So my dad just finished The Last of Us Part II and he’s got some thoughts about it.
If you read my previous article where I interviewed my dad to get his thoughts on A Way Out, then you’ll already know that he’s a bit of a video game aficionado. He knows his stuff. He grew up with video games and continues to play them as much as he can in his everyday life. I was lucky enough to also grow up with an affinity for video games and we tend to have the same tastes.
I finished The Last of Us Part II a couple of months ago, but he’s only just finished it. I was so excited to finally get to talk to him and get his opinion on the game. I sat down with him in a totally professional, interview-like manner to talk about his final thoughts and feelings on the title.
Warning: Contains MAJOR spoilers for The Last of Us Part II. Read at your own risk.
Me: Let’s just start out with your initial thoughts. What did you think of the game?
Dad: I found that the first one was quite a bit more frightening and challenging. The infected were harder to kill. This one didn’t have the same vibe. Oftentimes when I play a game I can tell right from the very beginning if I’m going to like it and if I’ll go back and play it again. For The Last of Us Part II, I might try and go back on a harder difficulty just to see if it’s a bit more challenging, but only because the game lets you go back in with your upgraded weapons.
Me: I watched you a bit and there were a few parts when you rage quit. The part with the huge infected in the hospital with Abby, and the part where you’re sneaking around the theatre trying to take Ellie down.
Dad: Yeah. So here’s the thing – if you remember in the first game, there’s a part where the characters are trapped in a gym inside of a school with one of the large infected. I’m not sure if it was a bloater, but whatever it was, it was big. You have to run around and avoid it. What made this so challenging and fun to play was that you would go into the fight and very likely only have something like three handgun bullets and one shotgun shell on you. You really had to be careful and think fast. You might run to one corner of the gym and grab a brick to throw at it, shoot it once and then run again, but you’ve got time to prepare another attack. It was very challenging.
I don’t like games where there’s an enemy that’s chasing you constantly and you’re just running around blindly. The hospital was dark and cramped and the infected was a one-hit kill. I’m sure to some people that’s scary, but I just find that annoying. It reminds me of characters like Mr. X or Nemesis from the Resident Evil series.
Me: So you don’t really like the Mr. X type characters that you can’t really defend yourself from?
Dad: They’re just harassing you more than anything. They’re different from a boss that might have a few different stages. If you think about it in games like Far Cry, during a boss battle one of your adversaries might come at you with a knife and you have to defend yourself and dodge attacks. It’s kind of like your fight with Abby at the very end of the game in the water, or like a fight with Wesker or Krauser in Resident Evil where you have to do quick time events. I don’t mind those, but with creatures like the one in the hospital it simply gets frustrating and it becomes much less scary and more annoying than anything.
Me: What did you think about all the flashbacks? There were quite a few in this one, but they can be kind of slow.
Dad: They do help to flesh out the story which is always good. The biggest problem is how slow the characters move. You have to walk with the AI, who almost always walk slower than you so there’s no speeding it up. That can be a bit annoying.
Me: I liked that, because Joel died at the very beginning, the flashbacks gave players a little more time to spend with him.
Dad: Yeah, that’s true. I didn’t mind it most of the time. They had to add in flashbacks for Abby definitely to tell the player more about her. They must have decided early on, “Okay, here’s our story. This girl Abby comes to the Jackson area to take revenge on Joel for what he did at the end of the first game.” I understand now why they did that, but in the moment I didn’t really care about those slow moving Abby flashbacks.
The overall story was done pretty well. It’s just disappointing that when there’s a game with multiple characters you often don’t get to level them up all the way before switching to the next. And some of the looting, especially at the end when you play as Abby right before her and Lev get kidnapped by the Rattlers, felt pointless and like a waste of time.
Me: What did you think about stealth in comparison to the first game? Did you think stealth was a little bit easier in this game? Or harder?
Dad: Stealth was more difficult in the first game because the clickers were super sensitive to sound and you didn’t have as many types of infected. I remember there’s a section – I believe it was a subway – in the first game, where there’s around three clickers and a few infected standing around. Even if you threw a bottle and they all ran towards it, the infected became alerted and made it so it was easier for them to find you. It would take me four or five tries to figure out the best way to do it. And remember that shivs were absolutely the only way to kill clickers and most of the time you didn’t have one with you so you either had to kill them with a molotov or sneak by them which was really difficult.
Even the battles with soldiers that were trying to keep you from escaping Boston – you would have very little ammo so you have to try and stealth kill them or sneak in through rooms, hide behind furniture and get out of the building without them seeing you.
In The Last of Us Part II you can do a lot more head-on. And some people like playing games like that. The first one felt like a more authentic and realistic survival horror game, because resources were so scarce you really had to conserve and use the environment to survive. Towards the end of Part II, other than a few exceptions, I was never out of ammo; I always had molotovs, some health kits and melee weapons. The feeling in the first game was, “I’ve absolutely have to approach this with stealth to save my ammo” where the second is “I’ll try stealth, but if it doesn’t work I’ll just kill everybody no problem.”
Me: Towards the beginning of the game, you’re in Seattle with Dina; a beautiful area that’s very open world, and you can explore pretty much at your own leisure. Did you like that open world aspect or do you prefer a more linear approach? The first one felt a bit more linear in my opinion.
Dad: It has been a few years since I’ve played the first one, but I think there were a few places that felt open world. The area with the fireflies had a lot of buildings to explore. I thought those bits were good.
Me: You think the world looked how it would during an apocalypse?
Dad: Yeah, I think they did a pretty good job making it convincing with grass growing through the streets and into cars. Broken buildings that kind of thing. It makes it all feel very realistic.
Me: I’m gonna ask you a bit of a complicated question now. Who do you think the bad guy was? If there was one.
Dad: What’s a little frustrating to me in this particular game is that most of the clans of people that have got together look like they’re successfully surviving. Relatively. There’s gardens and they’re growing food in their compounds. Instead of just trying to survive, thrive and fight off infected, everybody is fighting with each other. And who knows what life would be like in this kind of dystopian future, but it would be different if everyone was starving. I could see the Scars fighting with the Wolves for resources. But the Scars were on their island, they fish, they have houses and their own society. The Wolves have their own compound, commissary, kitchens. They go out scavenging but also grow food.
I just seems a little odd to me that after all this time people are still trying to kill each other rather than just focusing on surviving. At the end they introduce the Rattlers and not only are they killing people, but they’re kidnapping them. Is it for slave labour? It’s not really explained.
Me: Yeah, I think so. It’s hinted at, at least.
Dad: In the first game you had Boston. You had a few cities that had survived and then you had the Fireflies which was the kind of anarchist group. In the wilderness, Ellie runs into those cannibals. Now, we’re several years down the road and, at least in Jackson, they go out on patrols to keep the infected at bay; they weren’t going out to war with other factions.
Another thing that bugged me was that Abby helps Lev and Yara. Initially, it’s because it’s mutually beneficial. But then she decides to go back to help them again which is good. It definitely helps her character be more relatable and seem more human. And I know that Lev and Yara are outcasts, but both Abby and the kids have spent their whole lives with these factions and all of a sudden, towards the end, they’re just willing to kill them all. They have no remorse towards the people they’ve lived with their whole lives. I suppose I could understand Abby’s side a bit more because she doesn’t really like the way that Isaac has been doing things, so it felt inevitable for her character to shy away from that group. For Lev and Yara though, they were a more tight-knit community. It’s one thing to be outcast and run away, it’s another thing to go back and just start killing the people you’ve spent your whole life with.
Me: So going back to the question about “who is the bad guy?” You’re saying it doesn’t really seem like any of them have a moral compass at the end?
Dad: I can understand vengeance. Even though Ellie knew what Joel had done, she still had to watch him brutally beaten death and she needed that closure, but it only goes so far. After their fight in the theatre Abby says, “Don’t let me ever see you again.” And then the player gets to see Ellie living with Dina and the baby. She could have had a good life near Jackson where they’re safe. But instead she chooses to give all of that up for essentially a suicide mission, but at a certain point she should just stop and say, “At least I tried.”
Me: And even with all of that, there’s just no closure for any of the characters.
Dad: Exactly. Dina leaves Ellie, and instead of Ellie walking through the gates of Jackson after it’s all over and seeing her again and giving the player this feeling of relief like they’re going to be okay, we just get nothing.
And for Abby, would it have been that big of a deal to have her get some kind of hope? Some kind of lead that shows that she’s closer to finding the Fireflies?
In the first game, you feel for Ellie. She goes through so much. She feels this horrible guilt about not being able to save the world when Joel lies to her. Even her friend from the DLC gets killed and she doesn’t. She has all of that on her shoulder and you feel for her. But in Part II, she’s just this bundle of rage and revenge after Joel is killed. It’s so brutal and bloody and nobody has any sympathy for anybody.
We don’t live in a dystopian world, but it just feels so hard to believe that nobody in this world is able to hold onto their humanity. It gets to the point where everyone will just kill anybody that gets in their way. And at the end Ellie even lets Abby go so it all feels completely pointless.
Me: Last couple of questions. Would you want to play The Last of Us Part III?
Dad: What’s left? I don’t see where it could go. I was kind of looking forward to this sequel, but unfortunately in movies a lot and with games, sequels just aren’t usually as good as the first. I don’t know where they’d go with the story now. Ellie doesn’t have anywhere to go. I probably wouldn’t jump to get the third one, no.
Me: What score would you give it on a scale of 1-10 and do you have any final thoughts?
Dad: I’d give it a 7 or 7.5. It’s a beautiful game, but there’s a lot of holes in the story. Things they didn’t flesh out as much as they could. Stuff like the Seraphite prophet woman that they worship – you don’t find out really who she is or why they worship her so blindly. Stuff like that.
I did like all of the different weapons, and I liked that Abby and Ellie had different weapons. The combat was good I thought the AI felt pretty intelligent, not so predictable.
Me: But in the end, not perfect?
Dad: There were just too many holes. The flashbacks were slow and at times took away from the overall feel of the game. It wasn’t as challenging as the first one, resources are more plentiful. You’d think that the longer you went along in the apocalypse the less resources there would be. Everything would be picked through, but there’s tape and scissors and alcohol everywhere. It’s not like the first one where you looked in every nook and cranny in every house hoping for one little item to make one shiv to be able to kill one clicker. You got excited every time you found two or three bullets because it was so rare.
All in all I thought it was good, not great. I’m not disappointed I bought it. And I’ll definitely give it another try on a harder difficulty with New Game + mode.