The Last of Us Part II: When a Sequel Surpass the Original (Spoiler)
Two masterpieces, but not equal.
The Last of Us is a videogame created by Naughty Dog in 2013. Since is release, it quickly became one of the most loved game of all time, declaring the Ps3 as the winning console in the race against Xbox 360. Even though the ending was open to sequels, not everyone thought the game needed a part two. So, when on the E3 of 2018 the sequel was officially announced, a mist of joy and fear struck players all around the world. The joy to return in the world of TLoU was great, and even more the possibility of playing again as Joel and Ellie, but on the other part players were afraid the story could be ruined. The game officially came out on the 19th of June 2020, and since the first day the public has been splitted in half. With the exception of rare cases, the vast majority of players either loved the game or hated it, with no half measures. I stand on the first group, and I'm 100% positive on saying that this game is a masterpiece, far more than the first chapter. I will try to explain why.
Surpassing Everyone Expectation
TLoU 2 is one of the most surprising game ever made, with a style of narration unique for the videogame world, that leave the player astounded trought all the gameplay. The story begins four years after the events of the first, and in the first two hours, after having played as Joel for no more than 5 minutes, the main characters of the first game is brutally killed, without leaving the players no choice but to watch him perish. The main characters, the one players were the most attached to,killed in only two hours from the beginning, without a trace of grace or nobility to his action, just brutally killed in front of Ellie. So the player find himself playing as Ellie in her mission to obtain revenge, but we are just getting started. With the use of flashbacks, with play as Ellie when she were younger, so we can understand better how the relationship between her and Joel changed in those years. And just when you think the game is going to end, everything change again as you find yourself playing as the main antagoinst of the story, Abby.
A Story That Never End
With the help of some flashbacks, we better understand why she decided to hunt down Joel, and what she was doing in the time we were playing as Ellie. When we finally arrive at the confrontation between the two of them, Naughty Dog decide to shock us even more, letting us play as Abby as we try to kill our protagonist, Ellie. The fight end, we win as Abby, and the game fade to black. The end? Not even close. We found ourself playing again as Ellie, one year after the fight. We are now in a farm, living together with Dina and her son. Ellie is happy and surrended by the only people she care about. We watch the sunset,we walk with the baby...so is this the end? Again, no. Ellie is still haunted by Joel death, unable to find peace. So, for one last time she decided to follow Abbie and kill her one and for all. We finally found her, tied and almost dead. We free her, but only to fight her to the death. Ellie beat her, and try to drown Abby. But in that moment, she dream again of Joel, but this time is a beautiful memory of him, so Ellie decide to let Abby go, saving her life. We watch as Abby escape with a boat, meanwhile Ellie just sit in the water, completely exhausted. Did we finally reach the end? Almost. For the last scene of the game, we see Ellie returning in the home she lived in with Dina, only to find no one there. As Ellie remember the last time she spoked with Joel, she leave the house and goes out in the forest, walking to an unknown destination. This time, is really the end. The credit roll, and you are left thinking about the wonderful experience this game was.
When the New Overthrows the Old
So how TLoU 2 surpass the prequel? In almost every single way. Let's start with obvious, the game quality. More than seven years have passed since the first chapter came to life, and technology has improved in all kind of aspect. The movement of the characters is a lot more fluid, the type of action you can do is improved (such as jumping or crouching), the shooting has become much more precise and funny. The enviroment where you fight enemies are much more spacious, with a lot of ways to sneak past the enemies or to cover yourself, leading to much more entertaining fights. The enemies are greatly improved, in all kind of ways: they are more alive, more active, and they have all different faces and weapons. But the greater improvent was made to the zombies: they are terryfing, much more dangerous, and the quantity of zombie races is doubled in comparison with the original game. The gameplay is never tedious, even though the story is nearly 15 hours longer than the first game, and the thing you do will exploring the game world are always different. But the greatest improvement is, without a doubt, the story. What start as a simple revenge journey become something much more complex, with a narration that is both dynamic and fresh,never boring. A narration that reach its peak at the climax.
Ellie's journey starts with the intention of avenging Joel death, and killing Abby. For all the game we came close to the objective, as we succed in killing all of Abby's friends, but at the end Abby is left alive, by Ellie choice. But why? She left her only family(Dina and JJ), traveling for months, almost dying, all for the chance of fighting fist to fist Abby. And when she is finally defeated, Ellie spare her life. Again, why? Because she is not a monster. The last conversation Ellie and Joel have they are still fightning, but is clear that Ellie intention is to make peace with Joel, to have him back in her life. But she can't forgive him, because the next day Joel is killed right in front of her. And she just can't forgive herself. Everything Joel has done was for her well-being, while she hated him for the choice he made. Ellie was deprived of the possibility to make things right, and that's why she can't remember Joel, as the only image she see thinking of him is that of his death. Only in the end, when she undestand that she has done everything she ever could, she realise that Joel would have forgave her since the beginning, because all he ever wanted for Ellie well-being. Killing Abby would only make Ellie a monster, one beyond forgiveness, so she decide to stop before is too late. Is a sad final, where Ellie don't achieve her vengeance and is left alone, but is a final where there's hope for her future, something she wouldn't have has she choosen on killing Abby.
The Rage against The Last of Us Part II
As I mentioned before, a great number of people hated this game, with a rage never seen before. Angry reviews, bad articles, even death threats against the director of the game and his staff. Some leak regarding some aspect of the story and the characters were made public some months prior of the release, and since then a great number of players were furious with Naughty Dogs. But what are they angry about? The principal reasons are Joel's death, having to play as Abby and the presence of a LGBT couple in the game. I will not comment on the last thing, because people who think like this don't deserve to be mentioned. But lets discuss about the other two things. Joel is a beloved characters, so its understandable that people wanted to play as him, but hating on a title because of the death of a characters its insanity. Lets move to the last thing:playing as Abby. I would like someone to explain me why playing as her was a bad choice by Naughty Dogs. You see the point of view of the characters you are supposed to hate, to help you understand that in every story there's more than one single point of view. But whatever the reasons were, trying to sabotate a company just because it made a choice you don't like is idiotic. Sending death threats,instead, is pure madness. You can dislike something, is normal. And you can express your disappointment against that thing, but not in a violent way. Constructive criticism is one of the best way to improve, blind rage is not.
Play for Yourself
In conclusion, the only thing I can add is to play for yourself this game. If you haven't tried it, give it a shot, and decide for yourself if he's worth the praise or not. The important thing is to have an own opinion, without listening to what the others tell you. Love it or hate it, is your choice. But don't hate the one who made it, don't wish for their death. Lets this be a lesson to be better in the future, all of us.
The Last of Us Part II: 10/10