The Last of Us Part II is the sequel fans said we didn’t need. Has developer Naughty Dog managed to create a worthy follow up to the acclaimed 2013 original? Here’s what the reviews say.
Many players – including us – thought that The Last of Us told the perfect story. Although we were excited by the prospect of a sequel, we were also worried that it might sully that experience and the characters we grew to love.
With The Last of Us Part II, Naughty Dog has not taken the easy path. The game’s narrative and structure are challenging, and the actions required on the part of the player are sometimes uncomfortable to perform. For some reviewers, The Last of Us Part II is just too brutal, too bleak. For others, the game has something genuine to say about violence, survival, and friendship.
One thing all critics can agree on is the level of artistry and technical accomplishment delivered by Naughty Dog. The Last of Us Part II is one of the most impressive console games released this generation, and yet another first-party jewel for the PlayStation 4.
Here are some highlights from our favourite The Last of Us Part II reviews.
The Last of Us Part II review round-up
“The violence is extremely graphic, uncomfortably so. It’s full of ugly flourishes, like the splattering sound of shotgun pellets ripping apart flesh, or the vicious flick that Ellie uses to slice open a neck as she performs a stealth kill. It can be sickening. Intentionally so? Surely. But I still can’t help but detect a sour, grubby note of gratification to it, particularly in the repetitive context of the combat.”
Essential – Review by Oli Welsh
“The Last of Us Part 2 not only justifies its existence as a sequel most didn’t think was necessary, supplementing and elevating the timeless qualities of its predecessor, but stands confidently apart as an entirely different beast, one bearing its own fangs that bite with just as much force.”
5/5 – Review by Alex Avard
“Where the game succeeds, though, isn’t in how close it scrapes to the level of prestige TV, or to films. Its coup is not, “Look how closely we can make games resemble highbrow art.” It’s more, “Look what previously fenced-off realms we can get interactivity into.” If the drama has quiddity, it isn’t only because of immaculate facial animation, fine acting, or writing that’s been gritted with freshly ground experience; it’s because you are anchored to it in action.”
9/10 – Review by Josh Wise
“This isn’t a straightforward violence-is-bad story. As in most zombie fiction, violence is baked into this world and our interactions with it. Instead, it’s about the motivations for that violence, the endless cycles of retribution that pull individuals or whole populations down into destructive spirals, and what it takes to break those cycles. There were parts of it that I had to endure rather than enjoy, furious or disgusted by what characters were doing – and, by extension, by what I was doing. There will be many players who don’t like where this story takes them, but by God, it’s emotionally effective.”
5/5 – Review by Kez McDonald
“The Last of Us Part 2 is a masterpiece worthy of its predecessor. Taking strides forward in nearly every way, Ellie steps into the spotlight and carries the sequel in a manner that feels like the culmination of everything that’s made Naughty Dog’s blockbuster storytelling so memorable since the original Uncharted on the PlayStation 3.”
10/10 – Review by Jonathon Dornbush
“What keeps it from surpassing the original and becoming an instant classic is the way that it starts to spin its wheels in the second half, introducing characters who simply don’t command the same level of investment as Ellie and Dina. It starts to hit the same beats as the first game, including at least three full museum trips. It does the heavy lifting necessary to make the finale feel impactful—including some rather brilliant twists on the conventional boss battle—but there was a point where I just wanted The Last of Us Part 2 to get on with it.”
4.5/5 – Review by Kat Bailey
“When TLOU2 does succeed, which is often, it’s incredible. The moment-to-moment action is tense and brutal. Even though it made me uneasy, I kept pushing ahead to see what would happen next, hoping to find one of those scarce moments of peace. One of the best parts of the game is the boss fights. There are a handful of pivotal conflicts throughout the story, but they don’t play out the way typical video game boss battles do.”
Not scored – Review by Andrew Webster
“… as a character study, The Last of Us Part II is beautiful and haunting, and I found myself completely overwhelmed by the emotional weight of it. In some ways, I mean that literally. The game gave me stress nightmares, not because you kill a lot of people per se, but because playing as Ellie felt more like being dragged by my hair than being immersed in her mission.”
8/10 – Review by Kallie Plagge
“Trying to extend the story of The Last of Us in a meaningful way was always going to be an uphill battle. What’s so frustrating about Part 2 is that the game seems to have all the pieces necessary to do just that. But those pieces end up getting lost as the game also tries to tell an entirely new story, one that tries to expand the Last of Us world into a generalized setting for an anthology of loosely connected stories. The end result never comes together in a satisfying way.”
Not scored – Review by Kyle Orland
“My playthrough of The Last of Us 2 felt terrible to experience. Over the course of my 27 hours with the game, it grew to the point of feeling nearly unbearable. This wasn’t because it asked me hard questions about my own capacity for harm or revenge, or pulled some Spec Ops: The Line-style moralizing about video game violence. Despite Druckmann’s promised “philosophical questions,” I never felt like the game asked me anything. Instead, it told me “brutality,” repeatedly and louder, until by the end I couldn’t hear what it was trying to say at all.”
Not scored – Review by Riley Macleod
Title: The Last of Us Part II
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: June 19, 2020
Platform: PlayStation 4
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