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Last of Us part 2, after many years of sparse trailers, after the unfortunate timing that is the Coronavirus, and after the leaks which cause all hell to break loose, it's finally here. And well, the director & writer Neil Druckmann himself already warned us in advance that this game's going to be divisive, and he kept his word. I can say this: before thinking of buying the game, youtube the first 2 hours of the game up until Ellie enters Seattle. If you don't like where it's going, definitely don't buy the game because it's going to make you angry, and there's another review up by Paz which reflects that, which are full of spoilers so watch out for that if you read this first. And possibly Joe's review which will be up later, and I understand completely if he's angry with it. But if you like where it's going and are on board with it, then this is the game for you. I'm actually the later half that knows what I'm in for before I get this game, and I've played similarly messed up games like Nier & Nier Automata which are infinitely more depressing, so thankfully I completed the 30 hour long journey ending satisfied, but not without a few gripes of course. The game takes place around 5 years after the first game. Spoilers for the first game here: You definitely will remember that in the first game's ending, Joel killed a bunch of Fireflies & saved Ellie from being killed because her brain's going to be dissected by the doctor in order to create a vaccine for the fungus virus, which may or may not even work so it's definitely a really messed up situation. Just by this event alone, I already know that what Joel did will come and bite him big time eventually, and this game's one of the answers to that. Personally I pretty much tried to choke everyone in the building & shoot the doctor guy in the leg which made him drop down like a ragdoll unlike what the game's recreation of the event showed but ah well. Anyway, it's 5 years later and Ellie + Joel are living their new life in Jackson Wyoming and well, things are actually pretty cozy in this place. And you get to meet a couple of the supporting casts: Joel's brother Tommy, Dina who's Ellie's girlfriend which picked up Ellie's hobby of making BAAAAD puns, mostly horse puns, and Jessie who is Dina's ex boyfriend. I don't know about you, but he totally likes Ellie too by the way he's checking her out. Hell, if Ellie swings both ways, this dude's a good match for her by how they're interacting throughout the game. XD So the proper game begins as Ellie & Dina are doing their patrol runs around the town. There's a couple of things that actually happen in the intro which I will not mention, but like I said before, check out the first 2 hours on youtube for it & see if you're on board with it. But for a rough idea of what happened, here's the release date trailer. Here's a side note: a couple of the scenes here are different than what's in the proper game. Like, WAAYYYY different so watch out for that. And so begins Ellie's quest for blood as she travel to Seattle, and this game's roughly around 30 + hours, filled with plenty of action, fungus zombies, brutally awesome kills & nice flashbacks here and there to mellow out the relentless pacing. Most of it are pretty sweet, and some are like "ok.... why is that there?" Now even though I'm one of the people who like the game's story for what they're going for, I'm going to mention the parts of this game that I don't like first: I definitely think the event that leads to Ellie going to Seattle can be done a lot better. I expected it, but the way it's done makes one party look like a complete prick, even though there's a well-justified reason for it through their perspective because by the end of it all, both parties aren't completely bad people and are in the grey area instead of black and white. And that's what I'm gonna say about it without spoilers for that part. One character in this game is named Lev. He's the 13 year old boy in this teaser trailer with the bow and arrow. For some baffling reason, this character's a transgender, all because she cut her entire hair short and decided to change her name from Lily to Lev. And it's just completely unnecessary because only 2 very short dialogues that don't even last more than 1 minute mentioned it, and it doesn't have any impact on the story whatsoever other than it just being there because the game for some reason wants to have it. You could just get rid of that dialogue and nothing in the story would change. The maximum bullets you get to store here are surprisingly fewer than in the first game. You can't get more than 8 for your shotgun, 9 for your rifle, 12 for your revolver & 16 for your standard handgun. I thought you had to upgrade your skill tree to get more max bullets but nope! This is it for the entire game. The weirdest thing is even when you increase the clip capacity for your weapons, the max bullets remain the same, which makes no sense. In many parts of the story, the game tried to make the enemy you fight sympathetic. Like "oh no, that guy you killed turned out to be a pretty cool guy", or "oh no, that person's actually just an awkward kid in a bad situation" because you get to see a couple of their backstory later on in the game. But to be completely honest, I don't feel sorry about killing any of them in this game. You know why? Because they're being complete pricks to Ellie, even though Ellie time and time again gave them the chance to just give her the info that she needs and she'll let them go. Especially Nora, Mel & Owen who were supposed to just be normal people put in a bad situation, but when they interacted with Ellie they immediately tried to kill her. Like seriously, if you want to make them sympathetic, make them actually nice & not be complete dicks to Ellie. Simple as that & none of the problems that happen in this game would happen in the first place! And this next part is for WAYYYY later in the game after around 20 hours in which I won't spoil but OH GOD, there's a sex scene there. And it is..... SO AWKWARD and dumb that it makes Ride to Hell & Heavy Rain's sex scenes look Oscar worthy. I can't believe it's actually possible, BUT IT IS. Other than that, on with the good. The graphics are obviously one of the best looking game on PS4 so no arguing there. Though surprisingly if you compare this game's cutscenes to the first Last of Us, especially for scenes with young Joel & Ellie, not that much has changed, which speaks volumes about how awesome the first game's cutscene quality is & how well it just transitions to PS4. Not during the gameplay of course because this game obviously has a much better quality. Despite how messed up & depressing the story gets, the best part of the game are the flashbacks before the event of the game. One of them taking place in a museum which is so cute & adorable it make my heart grew big sizes, and the other one which is pretty damn sad but necessary for Ellie. Hell, you can pretty much make Last of Us 2 about these flashbacks and continue from there instead of what we get, and the game would INFINITELY be less divisive than it is currently. The gameplay mechanics in this game is really solid & a major improvement compared to the first game. For starters, exploration in this game is WAAY more fun and big, and the game is like a mixture of the first Last of Us with that partial open world exploration segment that's in Uncharted 4 & Lost Legacy, though that exploration part is most prominent during the first time you are in Seattle. You get to explore parts of the city in this section of the game with your horse, and you get to use a map to search every nook and cranny this place has. The game's puzzles are not as awkward as those plank sections in the first game, which the game even takes a nod of during one cute section. Now the puzzles are more about putting ropes at the correct spots so you can swing to a hidden place filled with stashes, figuring out either to break a window or crawl a hole to open a locked door on the other side, jumping a lot kind of like Uncharted but less all over the place, and opening safe boxes with hints that makes you search around for clues, one of them involving putting a number that's a date for when a DOG gets employee of the month....... Maybe the dog's a very good mascot? ?_? I don't get how a couple of reviewers say that the jump button is useless in this game. I don't know about them, but I jump all the damn time in this game to get to next areas, platforms, and hidden locations. Useless is when you don't even use the button, but you use it all the time in this game. Maybe they mean useless in combat? But who the hell would jump during a firefight in this game anyway? You're supposed to use cover & hide, not be Mario. Not even Drake from Uncharted jumps during combat unless it's one of those hanging on ledges sections. One of my favorites collectible you get is when you explore a bank which turns out was robbed during the fungus outbreak, and you get to see this easter egg Apparently Uncharted is just a game in this universe because there's Uncharted 1 & 2 in many of the PS3 consoles you can see scattered around the game, so why is Drake's ring there? I think it's just a prop from one of the Naughty Dog employees that just put it there. SO many collectibles to see in this game. You get your usual journals that expand on the lore of the game and see many people's stories, like in one part you get to see the tragic story of a bowman who was betrayed by his friends that sided with an enemy faction that killed his daughter, so he gets to trap them in a garage to get infected, and then later on you have to kill his infected corpse & obtain his bow. A couple of them also involve characters who are probably still alive, and I wouldn't mind meeting them so they can share their survival stories with you. Unfortunately Ish from the first game's many old journals is not mentioned in the game, but maybe we'll finally see him later in a sequel, or dlc. Second are these superhero cards that are all over the place. There are so many of these things, and all of them have cool backstories. I would not be surprised at all if there's a future game of some sort that has these characters because I am down to try out their abilities. Especially the space whale & giant squid that are so big that it's pretty much like a Kaiju fight if they battle each other. When I saw the trophies in this game, I was confused as to why I can't collect quarters yet. Don't worry, you get to collect them when the game reaches a certain point. I've been looking forward to the game because of the combat mechanic I saw in the trailers, and man it doesn't disappoint. They made combat much more free-flowing & brutal here. The prone mechanic & bush hiding mechanic definitely makes this game a lot more like MGS, and I even nicknamed this game Last of Us 2 Phantom Pain: Venom Snake Ellie's vengeance. Which if you think about it, actually fits because both games share a common theme. You can crawl through trucks, tables, beds, anything with a hole on the bottom pretty much now, and that feeling you get when you shoot the face of an enemy that tries to search under them is OOOH, SO GOOD. Stealth is really fun since you have a lot more mobility and hiding spots, so you can get spotted & immediately run to go into hiding a lot quicker than in the first game. The enemies will have dogs that track your scents which makes it harder for stealth when these guys are around, but you can get through these guys pretty easily if you keep your distance, and you can simply headshot them. The other nice touch is how the enemies actually mentioned the names of their fallen friends after you stealth kill them. It makes you want to play a collection game to take note of the unique names for each enemy. You can be a stealth master in this game & it'll always be intense and fast-paced as seen here. You can craft silencers using a water bottle attached to it, but only for your pistol. At first I thought "why can't you craft a silencer for your sniper rifle?" cause I've seen it used during that Mark Wahlberg obscure movie Shooter a while back Until I found out that apparently it doesn't work in real life cause it'll just be ruined after a single shot. Well.... glad the game does its research. Hand to hand combat is also a lot better now because you can finally dodge enemy attacks, which does wonders compared to the first game's weird exclusion of it. Couple of times slugging enemies till they just bite the dust are so nice that it definitely reminded me of a battle from the Raid film. And for those that don't know that fantastic film, here's a taste of what you can expect here. Yep, Ellie uses that knife of hers a lot more this time. Wish she would use martial arts moves too but ah well, 1 out of 2 ain't bad. Melee weapons are the same as usual, but you are able to fix a weapon once now. Some, like the plank of wood, actually get upgraded into a mostly one-hit-kill weapon after you do this, but resources are limited so it's best to do that when you're sure that there's no other melee weapon you can pick up first. Speaking of upgrades, wow they ramp up the upgrade for your weapons & skills here. You get WAY better skill upgrades this time around other than more max health & steadier aim, two of them being a "last chance" ability that lets you shrug a lethal kill, and much faster stealth kill. Get these upgrades as soon as possible, it'll make things so much easier. Weapon upgrades are also really nice. It's simpler now in that there's no tier upgrades & gear level to worry about. What you see is what you get. And the best part about these are the animations for before and after you put on the gun upgrades. They're so slick & nice. Love the enemy types you face in this game. There's 4 groups of enemies: the Washington Liberation Front (WLF), the Seraphites, the infected fungus zombies, and the last one at the last parts of the game which I will not spoil, but it's a cool change of pace when you get to it. All of them use different weapons & tactics against you, and it's pretty cool to see how they contact each other during combat. The Seraphites use whistles to tell your locations & keep track of each other for example. Well except the fungus zombies cause they don't give a shit about tactics. Speaking of the fungus zombies, your usual types are back. The normal infected, the stalkers that sneaks & attack you silently, the annoying clickers & the big bloaters who comes back with a vengeance with a lot more health than usual are here. But there's also a new enemy type the Shamblers which are faster bloaters, but with more acid in them. And one more which is pretty much a boss fight that's straight out of Evil Within or Resident Evil, and it's awesome to fight. Unfortunately these 2 are the only new enemy types in the zombie fungus collection, but it's a nice taste of things to come for the sequel of this game, which I really hope will put the fungus zombie apocalypse more to the forefront. The music are a step up from the first game too. Ellie can play guitars in different places, and her actress Ashley Johnson's a DAMN good singer. It's unfortunate that you only get to hear 3 songs from her in the entire game even though she's supposed to write a lot of original songs. One's the song that Joel sang for her in the beginning of the game, second's a cover of Take on Me ............... I can't resist putting this in. 0P No she doesn't sing that really high note, she lowers the note. Still, good song. Third one's a song in the very end credits of the game that's a duet. All of these songs are awesome, but where's this song from this trailer? I'm so looking forward to hearing this song in the game! Maybe they'll put this song in the dlc. Oh, this one's divisive for sure, but I actually like most of what the gameplay after the 20 hour mark is like after the aquarium section. Not all of them as I mentioned before with the Lev character & that HORRIBLE sex scene that happened during this part, but it's full of unrelenting set pieces that's like a mixture of the first Last of Us, Resident Evil & Red Dead Redemption 2 which I am pumped for. Hell, even the last battle was morbidly fun because I get to die over and over again which makes me imagine an alternate ending to this game where it ends right there and there, which I am pretty sure everyone did during that part. XD Also while the ending of the game can be seen as depressing, I actually think it's more hopeful than what it looks like. I mean it's not completely the end because we don't see the whole picture of what happens with everyone in the story next after that part, and it's definitely open to the next chapter of the game where things get better for the people involved with time. Unlike Hotline Miami 2 which ends on such a downer note that there's not a chance in hell that anything positive can happen after that. And there you have it. Despite all the stuff that happens in this game with the leaks & the things that happen during the game itself, I had a great time playing it that right now I'm doing new game + to fully complete my upgrade in the game & collect all the collectibles. My rating for this game is "even though you'll feel down after the whole thing, it's still a fun ride to the end that makes you want to see what happens next". It's definitely NOT a GOTY material or 10 out of 10 like those review websites said because of the many issues it has, though if you ignore the story & play the game for the gameplay only, you'll have a damn good time shooting enemies & stealth killing them in gloriously brutal ways. I can definitely see this game getting a "don't ever want to touch this game ever again" or "burn in Hell for eternity" for those that are not going to enjoy this game, and that's perfectly fine. It's definitely a divisive game that definitely not everyone will enjoy, though calling this game like the "last season of Game of Thrones" is inaccurate because what happens in this game is pretty much just a logical possible route the story takes, not a completely out of left field garbage that last season was. For those guys, like I said, check the first 2 hours of the game on youtube first, and if that's not to your liking, then keep your money for other games. I am curious though about the next step. Despite all the mess, there's a plan already to do part 3. There's still a few loose ends after the end of the game that have great potential to be explored in the sequel. Will there be dlcs that expands on what happens after the ending of this game that leads to the next part? Will there be dlcs that put more Ellie songs in the game maybe through a flashback section? I'm quite curious to find out. Until then, stay safe during this corona season, play Doom Eternal for this year's GOTY contender at the moment if you want a GOTY game right now, wait for Ghost of Tsushima & Cyberpunk 2077.................. WHY DOES THIS GAME GET DELAYED AGAIN??? DX DX DX DX