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Game review 12 June 2020, 09:01

author: Matthias Pawlikowski

The Last of Us 2 Review – A Game to Set the World on Fire

We awaited The Last of Us: Part II like salvation. And you know what? The 2020 game of the year title is going to be a duel between Cyberpunk 2077 and Naughty Dog's new opus magnum.

Decidedly inedible mushrooms

Combat, although not very different, is more brutal. Blood spills and splashes on walls, flames spread and engulf screaming people and animals, and headshots leave no doubts.

Combat with humans and the infected is clearly distinct. I've mentioned this in the preview – the stalkers are now much more formidable. While they didn't even pose a real threat in the original, they're now the meanest enemies, as they still have residual intelligence. Instead of attacking directly, they'll try to surround you. Our sixth sense does not detect them, players not accustomed to dealing with this kind of enemies, will probably manifest the proper way of reacting to a gnarly, repulsive, mushroom-people – namely fear.

Similar changes were made to the bloaters. The range of their skills is not extraordinary, except one detail: they can break through walls and smash other obstacles in their path – so it's impossible to hide from them behind seemingly solid covers. During the journey, Ellie also discovers a new adversary – the shambler. This lad is similar to a bloater, but not as powerful. The shamblers, however, are able to pour acid and are much more prevalent.

Clashes with the infected are super intense. When the show is over, you will feel relieved, a bit like getting out of a completely dark room. And by the way – the models of the infected is amazingly detailed. It's gross, but checking them out up-close lets you appreciate the quality of their design. Sounds nauseating? Because it is. Kudos!

The Last of Us 2 Review – The Game to Set the World on Fire - picture #2
Every cut-scene shows the amount of time invested in it.

Human opponents are also more interesting than they were in part one. In the original, we mostly fought various bandits who, like all bandits in bandit worlds, kept themselves busy with acts of wicked – but ultimately meaningless – banditry. This time, as I mentioned, we get stuck in the middle of a conflict between two sworn enemies – the military WLF (the so-called Wolves), and a radicalized sect straight from Ari Aster's Midsommar. Both groups genuinely hate each other, and they identify us as perhaps not completely understandable, but a threat nonetheless. For the first time, we will also have to deal with the most obvious of threats in a vile world like this – the hounds. Naughty Dog creates a game where petting dogs is just one of the possible interactions. Dogs introduce some additional tension – they're able to sniff you out from a distance, alerting the search party.

The other faction, the Scars, are a crazy (though rather formulaic) sect; purists, who defy using anything left behind by the old civilization. It is a strictly tribal faction – with rituals, a strict, radical creed, and keen on violence. The initial confrontations with them are impressive – the scars wear leather coats, often carrying torches, and they communicate with whistling.

Here, Naughty Dog have used another psychological gimmick – opponents react to the death of their comrades, and I don't mean raising the alarm. When we kill someone, they shout out their names, thereby remind us that we killed, well, a person, with their own story, identity, and path, and the end of which they met Ellie. Such a simple idea, yet how powerful!

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