The long-awaited sequel, The Last of Us Part II is finally here.
Most fans were extremely eager to embark on another journey with everyone’s favourite ‘father-daughter’ pair to see how else their relationship could develop, and the experiences they’ll encounter in this post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world.
And here we are again after close to seven years with one of the best PS4 games known to the gaming community.
Spoiler alert – only read on if you don’t mind or aren’t planning to play!
We admit, the thought of a sequel to a blockbuster film, game or television programme always piques our interest.
But sadly, it often doesn’t turn out how we want it to be. This is especially so in this case.
As of June 25
If you’ve come across writer-director Neil Druckmann’s interview with Wired, this result wouldn’t come as a surprise.
Druckmann had already prepared the fans in advance about how they would respond to the sequel, mentioning how not everyone would be fond of the game, the direction it will be taking, and the fate of the characters they adore so much.
That said, how did fans actually react upon the game’s release?
Major spoiler ahead
One key incident would have to be Joel’s death right at the beginning of the game. Players were already emotionally invested in both main characters; Ellie and Joel. Seeing one of them get killed off abruptly right off the bat left fans furious and upset.
No one took it well.
Although Abby had a clear and fathomable motive (her father was the Firefly surgeon murdered by Joel to save Ellie), for users, the pain of losing a fan-favourite character was indescribable.
Mostly, they were enraged by Naughty Dog’s “appalling” writing style as Joel was uncharacteristically careless in this game. He fell prey to Abby’s ambush – something the vigilant and cautious Joel portrayed in The Last of Us would never have done.
Moreover, having to play from Abby’s point of view right before Joel’s death stirred up more anger from the fans especially because they had to play as the character who killed the character they desired to play as.
To make things worse, Ellie’s choice to spare Abby’s life at the end of the game left readers bewildered by this seemingly unjustified and illogical decision. After all, she did spend the entirety of the game chasing Abby down for revenge.
Meanwhile, there were others who weren’t too happy about Naughty Dog’s prominent use of LGBT characters as they felt that the game was trying to create a so-called “agenda”.
Still, user scores aren’t exactly reliable since some may have ended their experience of the game prematurely upon finding that it wasn’t up their alley or, more specifically, after being confronted with Joel’s passing.
Of course, it’s not like every single player found the new sequel terrible. Reviewer Andrew Webster gave a well balanced and comprehensive analysis of the game in an article on The Verge, an American technology news website that covers the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture.
Webster could see the value behind the game despite feeling a sense of uneasiness throughout the game. As he pushed through, he found that the grim, unsettling moments of The Last of Us Part 2 made the game powerful. He noted that the gruesome scenes of violence in the game were much more focused on forcing players to confront the impact of violence and its consequences than on the violence itself.
Storyline: How it all begun
The original game was filled with likeable characters with humorous and touching scenes throughout despite being set in a dystopian world. Ellie’s character represented hope – she had a lively and adorable yet fiery personality which complemented well with Joel’s ice-cold and gruff character.
But The Last of Us Part II transformed into a game of murder and vengeance, reflecting the darkness of humanity and how this intrinsic part of our nature also happens to be the bane of our existence.
The game starts showing how Joel and Ellie have settled down in the small town of Jackson which has survived the apocalypse.
Unsurprisingly, peace is short-lived in this post-apocalyptic world. During a patrol, Tommy and Joel save a woman known as Abby. However, upon finding out Joel’s identity, Abby immediately shoots him in the leg, tortures him and beats him to death with a golf club right in front of Ellie’s eyes.
That becomes the driving force of The Last of Us Part II, a story about the unending cycle of revenge. Tommy sets off for Seattle to hunt down the “Washington Liberation Front” group, who are the perpetrators behind Joel’s death. Meanwhile, Ellie, alongside her new girlfriend, Dina, soon joins the search and is ready to annihilate anyone who played a part in killing Joel.
Sure, we’ve seen aerial takedowns in Uncharted 4, Assassin’s Creed, and Spider-Man – so it is not in the least surprising to see it in another PS4 game.
Although it’s nothing new, it didn’t hurt to witness some elevated combat in the gameplay (especially in a blockbuster game like The Last Of Us).
Besides, the ultra-cool combat manoeuvre wasn’t the only highlight of this move – the superb attention to detail demonstrated in the look of surprise on the enemy’s face was spectacular.
Animators behind the sequel even took it to the point of factoring in minute details. A good demonstration of this is the explicit depiction of the effects of an explosion on human bodies.
Set up a trap mine indoors, explode a rando and watch as the explosion sends chunks of flesh flying up to the ceiling only to fall back down. Definitely the type of attention to detail that’s not for the faint-hearted.
Even wounds covered by bandages were made to look as realistic as possible. If you zoom into Ellie’s bandages after a fierce encounter with another character or an infected; you’ll see blood soaking through her bandages over time.
What really took the Internet by storm was the amazing capabilities of a single rope. A short clip shared by a Japanese developer on the rope’s physics went viral. He remarked at how the rope and cables moved realistically thanks to the attention to detail in the way it loops, bunches and sways. In addition to this, what impressed him most was that every movement of the ropes and cables takes the surroundings into account.
— ニカイドウレンジ (@R_Nikaido) June 20, 2020
Ropes and cables could get tangled around objects and pulled taut when they’re stuck – all without any sign of clipping. Ultimately, this was a bonus wrinkle to the gameplay amid certain navigation obstacles.
In response to the tweet shared, another game developer, Xavier Coelho-Kostolny, completely empathized with the artists who had to emphasize these intricate details during the game development process.
I guarantee this caused about 15 different people to cry during production https://t.co/EKYtyXalI3
— Xavier (@xavierck3d) June 20, 2020
But that’s just really how it is, isn’t it?
The painstaking effort required, the long hours spent working on the computer, the back-and-forth discussions with the rest of the team – it’s never easy whether it’s for games, films, or corporate animation!
Still, the recognition The Last of Us Part II received on the web proves that hard work always prevails – at least with regards to the gameplay and graphics.
These mixed reviews about The Last of Us Part II serve as a good reminder that people will always have different opinions about something – be it a television programme, a movie or a game. Hence, knowing your target audience as a business is a crucial factor in coming up with more relevant content.
However, you don’t have to embark on this journey alone!
As you’re devising your marketing strategy to reach out to your online audience – consult an animation company such as ourselves to help determine which motion graphics style is most suitable for your content.
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