The Last of Us Part II Announced

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
i think i am about 3/4 the way through? i am guessing because i've not looked up chapter titles or anything, but i have gotten trophies for cracking every safe and getting all the training manuals so i feel like i'm nearing the end.

to specify, i'm part way through day 2 of the abby section

after complaining about the pacing/length, imagine my reaction when i realised that it was going to do the double protagonist thing and i was going to do another three days. the pace seems a bit quicker for abby's section, but if you're going to give me two characters with separate skill trees and weapons to upgrade i would like it if some of the guff was trimmed down.

as i played a bit today, i have tentatively settled on the difference between my whining here and stuff like rpg grinding is that the grinding is at least self-directed play? i have chosen to do that, i don't have to do it if i don't want to (the equivalent in this game would be going on sidetracks to open chests). i don't have that choice when the extraneous bit is part of the required route i have to go through.

looking back on it, i'm not sure about the big open area on ellie's seattle day 1. it seemed like it was introducing new mechanics (open world, using a map to navigate). but then they've not had any of that since then. you can't use the map, the locations have become more linear. that's not an issue for me, it's just that you had me wandering around a massive and mostly empty area and now i'm kind of wondering what the point was.

ngl, don't like the inclusion of dogs (did the first game have dogs? i can't remember now). because i don't really like the tracking mechanic and struggle with it, using listen mode to see your scent trail is awkward since you crouch down in listen mode and the camera zooms in tighter so you have to mess around with the left stick to actually see your trail. and since i suck at it i have little choice, if i want to explore the areas (which i do because i'm trying to collect everything) then i have to kill the dogs because you've given me no non-lethal methods of dealing with them. and that sucks, i feel like shit.

not being american and having not a very good understanding of its geography (i know new york is on the east coast, california's on the west, alaska is up in the corner, florida is the opposite corner, hawaii is an island, i think texas in near mexico, and everything else is just in the middle of all that somewhere), i have little idea of the scale of these journeys. what state is jackson in and where is that state (wyoming? is that what the museum said?), i can't remember where the firefly hospital was and how far that was from jackson, i don't know what state seattle is in and where that is in relation to jackson. maybe it's living in on a small tiny island that i have trouble comprehending that sort of scale or how long it would take. pretend i posted that arrested development meme about how much a banana costs here.

on a tangentially related note, i had to look up when it takes places because i forgot it was meant to be 20 years post-outbreak. since i couldn't remember that hearing characters talk like they didn't see or know about pre-outbreak stuff threw me off. i thought the gap was a bit smaller, 10 or so years, so it makes sense why the younger characters wouldn't be familiar with stuff. although maybe it's my ignorance of buildings and constructions but should all these skyscrapers and stuff be as ruined as they are? or were they meant to have been damaged by other stuff like bombs or whatever? was i just not paying attention or something.

i'm not too sure on the pregnancy stuff. tbh part of me was like 'oh come on' when it was revealed. i have to assume there's some kind of theme or parallel here since you have both dina and mel being pregnant, but i don't know if i can see what that's meant to be. unless it's to have two love triangles/complicated relationships with ellie/dina/jesse and abby/owen/mel. but why would you do that to me. i just wanted gal pals going on a revenge road trip, why you gotta put a baby in there. i'd ask if they were going to go with dina wavering between jesse and ellie, but then they just killed jesse off so i guess not lol

i have finally seen lev. i got to the deadnaming bit, which is i think one of the points of criticism? but it is spoken by ostensibly the 'bad guys' and i guess fleshes out the seraphites as a traditionalist group in terms of gender and stuff? i was expecting worse but i hope this is it. critical support for lev, i like him so far.

when you get taken to the seraphite island i thought it looked like it was going to be an interesting setting. it was pretty spooky having infected running out of the dark in a forest, which is a change of location compared to ruined buildings. i thought we were going to see some unique seraphite architecture or something. then you get out of the forest and it's just more rundown buildings lol.

my impression of modern day naughty dog games (uncharted and the last of us) is that they aren't the most original concepts in terms of stories. uncharted is legally-distinct-indiana-jones: the game, the last of us is a post-apocalyptic zombie story but with an interesting zombie aesthetic. but it does those things well and the main characters are generally a strong point. tbh i think these are good candidates for adaptation into film or tv since then i wouldn't be walking through yet another dilapidated building to get to the next bit of the story.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
i was going to try and save my comments but i just feel the need to get this one out while it's still in my mind, spoilers for a bit further on from my last post

i'm on the seraphite island with yara going after lev, but this isn't about that (although thank you for showing me what seraphite villages look like when that's something i complained about before)

the ground zero section was good, it had a creepy atmosphere and i actually got two game overs during the rat king fight (mainly because i didn't think i could actually beat it and i was just running around trying to escape).

i had liked some of the hotel descent sequence, but after playing the ground zero part i think they should have just cut the hotel interior. the lighting/colour scheme looked nice there, i will give it that. but it's part of a pattern, which i complained about a bit with the arcade building previously, where to pad out the game length you'll just end up falling down somewhere and have to make your way back. it doesn't add anything narrative-wise to the game, it just seems like you didn't want reviews to say your game was too short so you made it needlessly longer. i guess you introduced infected growing in the walls in the hotel? but the hospital also had those and a terrifying rat king, so that's a big win for the hospital. the few little dialogues, that could easily be moved elsewhere, don't cut it for me. sorry.

not to say the hospital didn't have a bit of padding, in the form of looking for those medical boxes and repeatedly coming across empty ones before the last one which has what you need. i would have liked it if you got partial supplies from each box (or at least most of them) just so it wasn't doing the whole 'several misses before you find it' thing.

in conclusion, i have only been able to play it in short bursts and i have a bunch of stuff i'd like to play so each time i have to clear another building for nothing unique but a coin and some optional dialogue, i gets my goat.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
okay so i still haven't finish but i think i really am almost at the end??? i am tempted to look up at least the chapter titles because man this game will not quit and i need to know when it will end.

in my continuing complaining about how long this game is, this bit makes a nice example. instead of just starting me off in front of or just inside the house you're looking for, you start down the street. maybe you go fight some infected, but why. that doesn't really move the story along or add anything noteworthy. maybe i pick up some resources, but why not just give me some more to start with. put more in the house you're going to. why are you making me walk down this street.

while you were with yara or lev and abby's asking 'how far is it?' and the answer is 'oh it's still some way to go' every time i just whimpered to myself, noooo.

i am still processing my thoughts on the story, which i thought was ending already like twice, but i will say. what's with the story using the 'character was suddenly shot from off-screen' plot point repeatedly. it's happened like half a dozen times or something.

naughty dog, i offer my services as a merciless editor. i will kill your darlings. and save your employees from overly long work hours making yet another hallway nobody needs.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
i have finished the game at long last so here's my first lot of thoughts that i might add to or i might not

maybe i was wrong about the game length and it was actually thematically appropriate, because just like ellie and her quest for revenge the game also doesn't know when to quit.

i'm not really sure what to feel about the 'walking' sections (i think tim rogers called these 'prestige tours' in his big video on the first game) where there's nothing to look at or collect or do besides one thing or series of things that could just as easily be a cutscene. i don't personally feel like i get much out of making a character walk slowly along a single path, maybe opening a door and interacting with the one object you will let me interact with. whereas a cutscene could have little time jumps and SAVE. MY. TIME.

if you're prone with unlimited stealth, do the dogs not see you. you still leave a trail but i didn't get caught. so i managed to save two dogs, and now i feel like extra shit for the dogs i didn't save. they're not even real dogs, why do i feel so bad. maybe don't let me play catch with the dogs, you ghouls.

maybe i should have made notes about my thoughts as i went through because i can't give a cohesive opinion on the story. given the first game, and some of the talk around this one before i played it, i was expecting a downbeat story. i think the end of the first game was a memorable aspect of it, and maybe they felt they had to continue that kind of story for the second one. but you also teased me with lesbians living on a farm, and you can't play me like that.

does ellie leaving the guitar joel gave her in that empty house symbolise her leaving the memory of joel and getting vengeance behind. (also not putting it back in its case, very rude)

do her two missing fingers represent the two people she lost because of her obsession with vengeance, dina and potato. or was that just to make the final abby fight extra brutal.

i did actually like how savage both ellie/abby fights felt, i thought they were both well done.

i started a new game+ because i missed a bunch of artefacts and stuff (although it seems to have restarted my progress to zero because i can't select chapters now) so i will maybe go back through it every now and then, and i'd have to review the first game before definitively saying anything but just going off my impressions now i would rank the first game above the second (in terms of story, i had similar gripes about the pacing for both games). my main complains against part 2 would probably be:

- the dina pregnancy storyline. replaying the first part of the jackson chapter, it highlights how void of ellie/dina interactions ellie's seattle days 2 and 3 are. instead of getting more bonding between the two, or even cracks starting to show between them because of ellie's singleminded bloody pursuit to foreshadow or build up to the last third of the game, dina is instead taken out of the action because she's pregnant. which i think is revealed at the end of day 1 but i'm not sure now? so the ellie/dina relationship goes: they were friends before the story starts, they kiss just before the start of the game (which we don't see until the end of the game), their brief interactions in jackson, their trip to seattle that we also don't see, seattle day 1 and then dina's pregnant, then jesse appears and is a third wheel until day 3, large interlude where we play as abby for hours, brief glimpse at their heteronormative life on the farm, ellie goes off again and comes back to an empty house. there's a fairly substantial chunk of the game where there's no ellie/dina interactions at all, either because you're playing as abby or because they've taken dina out of the picture. i feel like the whole farm life stuff would work just as well without a baby and have more dina and ellie scenes before that.

- the split between ellie's seattle part and abby's. i don't know if they were trying to go for a twist reveal that it's a dual protagonist game (or they had announced that before release but i don't follow the news on it much), but you end with a dramatic confrontation between ellie and abby... and then spend the next few hours dicking around with abby and her pals a few days earlier. it builds up the tension then suddenly we're doing some low-stakes wlf mission now, with a whole bunch of walking through ruined buildings. oh boy. if they had interspersed abby's days after ellie's corresponding day i guess it might have ruined the surprise of suddenly starting from zero like half way through the game, but i feel like you wouldn't have this climatic peak only to have to go all the way down again.

- the narrative utility of abby's section. i like yara and lev, giving abby more characterisation was good, owen was kind of hot ngl, and seeing a completely different group of survivors in the seraphites was an interesting change from the usual 'it's a band of marauding brutes', but i'm still iffy on if it needed to be as long as it was. maybe if they were interludes between ellie's days it wouldn't feel like i was being made to start a new game from scratch, idk.

- the santa barbara section. yeah, i'm going here. i think this whole bit could be potentially cut or greatly shortened. this one i could possibly change my mind on. but it feels a bit like one go too many on the cycle of 'abby gets revenge on joel, ellie goes to get revenge on abby, only for abby to go get revenge on ellie but spare her because of lev, but then ellie goes back to get revenge on abby but spares her because of... joel?? (was that ellie realising if she did it she would just be carrying on the same thing and someone would come for revenge on her again like they did joel? did she realise it was futile? help me out here)' they gave us the rattlers, which. wow thanks. another brutish post-apocalyptic gang. i needed that.

- and what's with the main characters' minority male friend getting shot in the face. it happens to both jesse and manny. who now i write it down, both have similar sounding names too.



i suppose i will talk about lev and abby, since they seem to have caused the most fuss for the game being ~too pc~ or whatever. i hate the 'forced diversity' argument because i don't think you should need a justification to have under-represented characters in a story and no one interrogates why a character has to be a straight white guy. but if you were to use the definition that it's diverse characters without a reason for them being [insert identity here], that doesn't even apply to lev. a large part of his story is being persecuted and discriminated by his people because of his gender identity. is that not justification or is it really just because you don't like trans people in a game. in all honestly i don't care to read the arguments.

for abby, i think people assumed she was trans because she's buff and has small breasts?? and when it turned out the game doesn't say she is, it became because her body type is unrealistic for the environment and how did she get so big without proper diet and on her exercise routine. which. 1) the stadium she lived in seemed to have lots of resources and doesn't seem like they're strapped for food. 2) i don't remember them detailing her entire regiment, plus she lives in a stadium with a gym and i imagine her strenuous daily activities would serve as functional exercises. 3) male characters like owen are pretty swole, is anyone asking how they got in shape. 4) she's not even ridiculously huge or anything.

anyway force more minority characters and diverse body types into every single game.


those have been my thoughts so far, thank you for reading.

also do i need to clear out my ps4 vents or something, or is the fan noise just an issue with certain models of ps4 (i have a regular model from a couple of years after release). it's probably the most visually impressive ps4 game i've played, and maybe that's why when playing it my fan is screaming at me like 'father, it burns!'
 
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dz

Lv. 25 Adventurer
i don't remember them detailing her entire regiment, plus she lives in a stadium with a gym and i imagine her strenuous daily activities would serve as functional exercises.
This could be seen at the gym (easily missed):
https://www.reddit.com/r/thelastofus/comments/hfn248 She was already starting to get stronger back when her dad was alive. I imagine she went harder at the gym once she joined the WLF partly to shut out her emotional struggles after her dad's death - just as she she shut Owen out.
I also imagine some of the hate the game received would have been reduced if Abby had been conventionally hot. I thought it refreshing.
 

looneymoon

hedgehog pandacat
AKA
Rishi
Finally finished!

I didnt think I'd have to make another gameplay section, but this honestly feels like a whole new game.

It might be because I took about a week break between Ellie and Abby's section, but I feel like I'm starting a new game? Maybe this would have worked better if Abby's section was The Last of Us 3, or DLC. I had so much stockpiled that I didn't use when playing as Ellie, I could only imagine how irritated I would be if I didn't know a complete reset was imminent.

The Abby section plays different from Ellie. The levels are more actiony, more linear, and more all-around interesting. Her craftables and skill tree are different. She's almost like the Chris to Ellie's Leon. Her boss encounters are way more intense/scary as well. There's not as much sneaking, which sucks for me because I'm a sneaky player :( I genuinely had a huge blast playing as Abby though, her fights and boss encounters are intense as hell.

The fact that this is something worth talking about is making it sink in that this game is... way too ambitious. It's kind of impressive how much of that ambition is actually realized, but it's also the reasons why the weaker aspects of the narrative exist, and why the development cycle is the way it is.

I mean, at the very least, you're definitely getting your money's worth for the amount of content that's here. I clocked about 34 hours to complete it, but the scope of it feels so much bigger than the hours it takes to play.

Abby's dad is....... nice. I wish this game had more space to give characters who only show up for a bit more interesting qualities than "nice" to make the audience care. It's so forced the way it's presented.

Marlene was someone I was looking forward to seeing, because she's a cool character, but this scene with her feels like it's trying to get to the point and move on quickly. I think the point it's trying to make works fine (that there is ultimately no correct answer to Joel's trolley problem, but we are now looking at it through this POV), but it minimizes its complexity with how rushed this is. I think trying to fit all this story into one game is actively working against it.

At this point there's a working assumption that I'm supposed to dislike Abby for what she did to Joel, but I'm actually already more interested in her because she already seems like one of the more complex new characters. Seeing her as a young girl not too different from Ellie, was good. I like when the game shows me the point rather than telling it. Having her run across that same stretch of hallway from the first game was enough to get the information across, really.

I see that Abby is reading a David Beniof novel omg lmfao :wacky: If I'm already being reminded of Game of Thrones, the game is giving me reason to make a comparison. Like the final GoT season, the way this story is unfolding feels "rushed." Though for me, the medium of a video game isn't feeling quite as extreme as a book-TV show adaptation. Still, there's this constant feeling of the plot wanting to get somewhere quicker than it probably should.

Abby has an anime figure on her shelf! She's a weeeeeb! How relatable. Mel and Manny have personalities and character conflicts that make them unique, so I already feel more invested in them than someone like Jesse.

Why is the preggo lady coming on this dangerous mission? Still really hating this aspect of the plot, everything it touches is gettibg dumber.

Oh no... I killed that dog didn't I? Ruh-roh... k but fuck that dog.

OH NO YOU CAN PAP... AND PLAY CATCH... WITH THE DOG......

Oh noooooo.... the dog is my pokemon companion through this adventure :(

Idk, the more heavy handed this stuff gets, the more I think this should have been a new game entirely. A lot of this would work better if the audience was given more space to really absorb everything. We kill that dog, and it's maybe 20 min later that we are playing with it as Abby. The whiplash seems intentional but? idk man. It needs some space imo.

I do think animals have a more organic place in the story than the pregnancies, but I think the way they treated the horse as an afterthought (yes I'm still on about that), and how Ellie was a total horse girl in game 1... it sets this whole aspect up in a way I don't jive with. Remove the preggo plot imo, and have a more focused consideration with the animal stuff, and all the preachy points would have sat with me better, cuz as it is it's way too much.

Your mileage may very on how heavy-handed Mel and Manny are, but their characters are working for me. I think these are characters whose roles make sense. I immediately understand who they are and what they mean - they embody the sides of Abby that feels regret (Mel) and justified (Manny). This is something I feel was wanting more from the Ellie/Jessie/Dina dynamic.

Honestly, the interpersonal dialogue is probably when the writing is the strongest. I feel like when the characters have a chance to casually chat, things come across a lot better. It's a lot more subtle, at least.

I enjoyed walking into the room full of bodies, obviously made by Ellie. Plus coming across characters that you've killed. Once again, I think this game is pretty cool when it shows things in a way that seems natural to the world building. There's enough in the environments to get the point across that I think a lot of the dramatic cut scenes aren't super necessary.

Isaac is terrifying. I know it was to be expected, but why the hell is the scope of the plot getting even bigger with this war stuff? There's already so much that needs to wrap up from that Ellie cliffhanger. This is exhausting.

Flashback : I didn't think I would be at all endeared by Abby and her Wonderbread ex-BF, but this is cute. The parallels to the museum scene is obvious, but it's... more or less working for me because I foresee how Abby is gonna fuck this up. I think this is good drama.

Another flashback. Owen and Mel are alright, I guess. I feel like I'd care more about this love triangle if I actually spent some significant time with these characters.

Yara and Lev have finally been introduced, and I'm seriously wondering why more characters are being introduced this late in the game. Admittedly, they clearly worked hard at making them look like precious cute babies, so there's that.

I just got into a boss fight with a very large woman and ngl I kinda want Abby to beat me up.

This level on the boat is so fucking cool.

Now I know why my S-O was making fun of me for warming up to Owen, and why he nicknamed him Wonderbread. I mean, to be fair, cheating on the girl who is pregnant with your child is objectively one of the lesser-bad things anyone has done in this game. But still, that's a total scrub move. Is it in bad taste to change his nickname from Wonderbread to ProJared?

I guess getting laid gave Abby the epiphany that Owen's words alone could not express, cuz now Abby is off to save those kids she (we) knew for about an hour (if that).

Yara and Lev are cute baby children. I guess they're supposed to fill the "Ellie" role from the first TLOU. I did a big ":(" when Abby tells Mel that she wasn't the one that fucked up Yara's arm.

This episode with the arm is the first (only?) big thing that's making me squeamish. Very squeamish. Yara is sweet and smol, why would you do this to her?? I'm upset :(

Lev is also very cute. He is a soft boy who is afraid of doggos, likes God, and has never said a swear before. I feared that maybe his transness would feel a little unbelievable in the world he's in. I don't think that's the case here. The convo where Abby asks why he shaved his head and his response with a hesitant "I dunno..." was well delivered. I guess the enemy Seraphites deadname him is a point of discussion? I don't think this is problematic, myself. I think they captured that uncomfortable feeling of knowing despite not wanting to/feeling like you shouldn't know, if that makes sense? I haven't seen any other piece of media convey that very specific type of discomfort in the same way.

If I had to go into the criticism about this, I wouldn't have to say that is much different than what I do about the rest of the game. The side characters feel like fully realized humans, but they don't stick around enough to really make you feel that invested in them. I don't expect much different from Lev, there's no way this game is going to give this character (and his identity) enough space to really matter in any meaningful way. He's a side character clearly meant to facilitate Abby's growth, and the parallels to Ellie and Joel are obvious. But unlike Ellie, Lev doesn't get an entire game's worth of story + a DLC to give this relationship the same gravitas. Abby and Lev bro-ing out is nice to see, for what was see of it. It is a shame, because like a lot of stuff in this game's story, there's a lot of really good aspects that feel glossed over due to its scope.

I would also like to mention I read and saw a lot about this game before playing. Even through intentionally seeking spoilers + hot takes, no one ever mentioned Lev's deadname. I didnt find out was I was until actually playing the game. I think that's kinda cool. It doesn't really make up for the fact that a lot of the crappy stuff I had to wade through included people calling Abby the t-slur, and the fact that misconception seems to persist, but it's one nice thing I can say about the game's response.

I killed a Shambler with Abby's punch. Lol. I listened in on some Scars having a heart to heart, then sniped one in the face with the crossbow. Lev's response was "nice" and I lolled again. Get dead for deadnaming, asshole.

Fear of heights in a horror game - good god this is terrifying.

The religious stuff is a whole other aspect of this story that's happening on the periphery, but also seems like it wants to be more important than it probably is? Both Abby-Lev and Ellie-Dina connect on some spiritual level, but it feels like it's a sort of shorthand thing used for development because of the lack of time with see these relationships. Idk. This story is tackling a lot of topics, but does so in these weirdly brief snippets.

Man, Abby's levels are so much cooler and scarier. Wandering around a level that I already played as Ellie was pretty cool. I appreciate the irony of Ellie and Abby missing each other by mere hours. Once again, the environments are really doing a lot of work on their own, that at it really makes some other stuff feel unnecessary.

The parts where you get some actual NPC dialogue are interesting. It makes me wonder if this game would have benefited from a more JRPG design philosophy. The scope of the plot feels like it's trying to be similarly grand as a standard JRPG, but I'm not sure if this type of game is super allowing of that.

...I made the grave mistake of playing through this hospital basement at 2am. Why did I do this to myself? This is scary and I need an adult.

omg never has a resident evil monstrosity scare me, but the last of us take on a RE-style boss made me very upset :( This thing... it is a thing of nightmares and it must die. I already hated hospitals enough, ugh.

Wow I hated that whole section (in the best way possible). That was siiiiiiiiick.

I know people hate this game, and I dont really blame them, but if your heart didn't swell even just a little bit when Lev pets the doggo, I think you may be lacking a soul. Call me a sucker, but that was precious.

Mel is that girl, hey. Guess I can't really blame her. Abby is pretty fucked and all over the place. It makes me wonder what the perception of Joel would be, if we were actually shown the amoral decisions he made that caused Tommy to leave. I dunno, in a lot of ways I'm really liking what the Abby section is fulfilling, because she goes through such a similar character arc to him.

Anyways this thought is interrupted by playing fetch with the doggy again, when I know she's gonna get shanked pretty soon. Thank you game, I was being genuinely contemplative for a moment there.

Owen's actor delivers his lines in a way that really makes me want to trust everything he says and fall in love with him, but he's plaaaayin'. Come on Abby, you know in your heart of hearts that wonder-dick will make you sick. Don't let being dickmatized fuel you this much.

Ah yes, first the pregnant lady joins for a dangerous mission, and now the one with the freshly cut off arm joins in on the action. Makes perfect sense.

Manny's return was so random. He also died and I am unaffected. Am I supposed to be this unbothered? Is the fact that I'm asking... the point!?

This sniper fight with Tommy was admittedly pretty sweet though. It's just such a weird aside.

Lev killed his mom and Yara is just like, all good lil bro. No revenge between woobie siblings I guess.

Yara died, but not before taking down Isaac. Abby and Lev battle through the war zone, not really being on any side at this point. This is kinda Abby's "Joel Firefly" moment, I guess. I'm curious how much people think Abby's projection of her own redemption onto Lev has to do with Owen (and feeling complicated about wanting him back)? I kinda got the impression it sorta-does, sorta-doesn't.

May I remind you that I started this epic Abby-centric adventure about 6 hours ago. Seriously, the story isn't even bad per se but holy shit this pacing is atrocious.

They make if off of the island on... a horse! Cue me screaming internally. This horse part is really cool tho. This whole section is so much fun. The fist fight with the dude with Irish smile was very gruesome and cool.

AHHHH WE ARE FINALLY BACK TO THE MAIN PLOT! I have come across the dead pooch. There is a cool motif going on with hallways in this game (something tunnel vision something ptsd something revenge something perspectives). If I were Abby or Ellie I would really start avoiding long, stretching hallways.

Oh god oh god I'm back here. This game was exhausting me but I'm all freaked out now. I've come so long to see this confrontation and I can barely contain myself.

Abby threatens Tommy : meh
Abby kills Jessie, with Ellie almost in view : *nervous* alright...
Ellie reappearing: NO I DONT. I DONT WANNA DO THIS. I'M ACTUALLY YELLING AT MY SCREEN NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. HOW DARE YOU DO THIS GAME HOW DARE YOU.

WHTA THE FUCK I DONT WANT TO FIFHT ELLIE PLEASE STOP.

...THIS ASSHOLE IS USING MY OWN TRAPS AGAINST ME.

OH GOD WHY IS THIS FIGHT SO HARD.

...

...

...

Well this game does a lot of dumb shit, but it really served for that boss fight. 10/10, probably one of the most memorable boss encounters I've had in a game. Holy moly.

I have learned to kind of accept the bizarre time skips in this game, but good God how is this not over yet.

Having learned and accepted that the pacing in this game is non-existant, I will choose to enjoy the cute lesbian bliss and PTSD related episodes. JJ is a baby potato, and though I stand by the idea of his existence being dumb, it also technically makes Ellie and Dina both MILFs so that's cool.

Dina's dead sister is hot.

Oh god Tommy you are the worst. No wonder your wife left you, jfc. I am really annoyed by how underdeveloped he's gone through this whole thing, but this can be said about everyone at this point. Still, he got it the worst, given he's a memorable part of the original game.

Something tells me that having all these people processing their trauma together may not be healthy.

...This story is manipulating me with all the gay shit. Waaaah! :'(

Can Dina be my wife?

Omg how is there still more game. Oh my god how is MORE still happening. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE ATTACKING ABBY. WHAT? HOW IS THERE MORE PLOT? AND LEVELS TO PLAY? Please just let it get to the end already oh my fucking God.

...

...

...

I was really ready to say a lot of negative things about this game, because I was just exasperated and done.

Then Ellie walked down that final hallway, to come across an emaciated Abby on the pole... and I got this strange head rush that lasted from that point until the end of the credits.

The final hour was very... surreal. I don't really know where to start because there's been so much dumb stuff up until this point, and because of that I don't know how I can justify liking the end as much as I do. Something happened where it clicked for me.

Nothing else to say really. I expected to not be satisfied at all, but somehow I am leaving it very satisfied.

Damn.

I came into this game with a lot of good will, and I think it does deserves a lot of credit. Like I said at the beginning of this post, this whole project is way overly ambitious. I think a big problem is that all the good stuff isn't able to shine because of all the bizarre stuff. A lot of this is a result of scenes trying to make the point as punchy as possible so it can quickly move onto the next thing. I think @Lex put it very well when he says it makes it come across as arrogant and obnoxious, but I want to add it's all very rushed and bloated as well.

If I were to sum this game in one word, it'd be this: overworked. It has fantastic design, but it's over-designed with stuff that ultimately doesn't matter. The story is fine, and has moments where it's really good. I especially like when gameplay/level design intersect with narrative, it's all very considered and has moments where everything comes together really well. The story feels like it's suffered from multiple rewrites from different people, and thus comes across as stiff. Structurally, it succeeds in having non-linear plot progression that pays off, but it can make an already dense experience feel even more exhausting. It's only about 30-40 hours (I clocked in about 33 hours) but its hard to describe how much more massive it feels when you actually experience it.

That said, I did really like the ending. It'll probably take some time for me to articulate why and how, but something about how it came together just worked for me. A lot of it is probably too personal to really lay out on a post like this. I think the easiest way is to compare the end of TLOU and TLOU2. I mentioned in the first post that I didn't really have a super emotional response to the first game, even though I have a lot of praise for it. The ending posed a really interesting ethical problem, but inherently I don't think I personally could ever personally relate to the feeling behind a decision a father would make for his daughter. Seeing Ellie's story come to its conclusion felt fundementally different, internally. I think it really has to do with the fact that I relate to the character in a lot of ways, so I could easily follow her mental process through those final scenes. I liked it. It's very clearly not for everyone (for valid reasons) and that's okay.

Some main takeaways:

- This game is simultaneously too long as it is too short. The pacing is... I want to say atrocious. I was motivated to see what happens next, but it was all very jarring. With just a bit of tinkering, the plots of both sides of the story could easily be separated, and it would have felt a lot better, I think. imo the more obnoxious stuff would come across as less so with that separation.

- On a similar note, it seems like Naughty Dog really wanted to stretch the kind of story that can work for this type of genre. The scope of the plot feels almost comparable to a plot-heavy JRPG, where you are made to invest in a large cast of party members. The problem here is that there's not enough room in this game that facilitates that - you're only ever controlling and building on Abby or Ellie, with a rotating cast that is never consistent. TLOU1 managed this in a very elegant formula - each chapter being a story within a story, and only having a couple of significant side characters in each. This gave every side character appropriate spotlight, and a nice arc that ties up with each mini-story. TLOU2 is loaded with characters with varying levels of importance, and it's... a lot to say the least. Pretty much every character gets shafted for the sake of (sometimes, often) questionable plot progression.

- The MGS2 style attempt at a "twist" doesn't do anything but try very hard to annoy the player. Not just because of story stuff, but the mechanical reset as well. I am not sure if Abby fully achieved what Raiden did (though maybe partially?). I dont think Abby really needed to be a "twist." Not being upfront about the protagonist shift just annoyed people (I admittedly still feel robbed for not getting a 30 hour lesbian road trip farming simualtor). MGS2 was commentary on misinformation. I don't think being "misinformation" means what it does now what it did 20 years ago. Especially in modern games culture - review embargoes + pre-order incentives being so scummy. (I mention MGS2 because Druckmann has specifically stated that's what he was going for here).

- Neil Druckmann is annoying as much as he is embarrassing on twitter, but the level of backlash makes my sympathize with him. I probably enjoyed the story/characters more than a lot of people, but there are plenty of times when I was thinking "what the fuck" to myself. Even so, I really don't think it's fundementally the giant trainwreck it's made out to be. I had a good time. Even though the story has troubles, there are aspects of it that I find genuinely challenging and worth engaging with. Every decision with it felt very well-considered (though I would argue it was way over-thought), at the very least.

- The main points of contention have really nothing to do with the representation stuff = in fact, those aspects are some of the better things about the game.

- The dog stuff is definitely dumb, but I do think it has its place in the story. The pregnancy stuff was way worse for me. If Naughty Dog sold The Last of Us 2 brand condoms, I would buy them with how because of how much I hated it.

- That said, as obnoxious as this game is about going about the topic, I am still left with this lingering question about how much humanity I have to see in someone before I can allow myself to say they are deserving of empathy. It's an interesting question at the very least, especially as a follow up to Joel's story. I suppose an impassioned negative backlash from twitter is almost the most appropriate response from a story that tries very earnestly to challenge those ideas. Hmmm. It's something I enjoy a little, but simultaneously dislike more the longer I sit with it. I still believe it would have been more powerful if it had the space to invite an emotional experience, rather than forcing the audience to stretch their capacity to see it. For me, it doesn't work as well when I can see when certain strings are being pulled. There are a lot of careful and considered layers to the way events are framed that I enjoy thinking about. The characters all mirror each other in some way, and it's kind of neat to see how everything lines up. I dunno, this is a talking point I'm going to flip-flop on forever.

- On a personal note, I was really digging the setting/atmosphere the whole way through. I'm glad that a genre of "Pacific Northwest-Gothic" had a chance to be featured for something on such a scale.

Controversial Takes:
- Abby is a good character. Ellie is too! Who knew a game that ends in a wet mud fight between two hot girls would get the gamers so mad? I'm gay.
- Joel's death was one of the stronger points.
- I liked the ending...
- (it's really just the middle I go "oh god" at... the ebb and flow of the journey was definitely not it)
- If this did win GOTY, I could... understand why tbh, though I probably wouldn't choose it myself. Maybe for certain categories.

anyways, stan Dina.
 
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Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
rishi i would read a long list of what you found obnoxious and nod along in agree

i went back to look at reactions to the leaks, to see which actually came true and because i had forgotten most of it. like how people claimed that neil druckmann put himself into the game, but actually as two character (idk if these were meant to be part of the same theory or they are two different ones but imagining them being one is funnier): one as a character who spits in joel's dead face [manny], and one who has sex with the character who kills joel [owen] and he also mocapped the sex scene. and both of these are supposed to be wish fulfilment or some kind of 'fuck you' to fans? but also both of those characters get shot and killed, so idk what that says about him. in some kind of chinese whispers style twisting this sometimes got turned into the character having sex with abby is based on druckmann's own physical appearance, which i guess is meant to mean manny but like. i guess he looks similar in the way that dark haired men with beards and maybe a darker complexion look similar? bit of a stretch really, i don't buy either lol

joel's death was sometimes characterised as being for 'no reason' and i don't think it's unjustified to not like that as a story direction, although having it actually related to the previous game is stronger than if they had just gone with some other people joel had crossed or wronged in the past that we never saw before

i enjoyed looking at the fake anime/manga dvds and posters they made (i assume the ones in manny and abby's room are meant to be anime because manny has some dialogue about getting drunk and watching anime, though i thought they were meant to be live action at first). i'll just end with that
 

looneymoon

hedgehog pandacat
AKA
Rishi
i went back to look at reactions to the leaks, to see which actually came true and because i had forgotten most of it. like how people claimed that neil druckmann put himself into the game, but actually as two character (idk if these were meant to be part of the same theory or they are two different ones but imagining them being one is funnier): one as a character who spits in joel's dead face [manny], and one who has sex with the character who kills joel [owen] and he also mocapped the sex scene. and both of these are supposed to be wish fulfilment or some kind of 'fuck you' to fans? but also both of those characters get shot and killed, so idk what that says about him. in some kind of chinese whispers style twisting this sometimes got turned into the character having sex with abby is based on druckmann's own physical appearance, which i guess is meant to mean manny but like. i guess he looks similar in the way that dark haired men with beards and maybe a darker complexion look similar? bit of a stretch really, i don't buy either lol

joel's death was sometimes characterised as being for 'no reason' and i don't think it's unjustified to not like that as a story direction, although having it actually related to the previous game is stronger than if they had just gone with some other people joel had crossed or wronged in the past that we never saw before

i enjoyed looking at the fake anime/manga dvds and posters they made (i assume the ones in manny and abby's room are meant to be anime because manny has some dialogue about getting drunk and watching anime, though i thought they were meant to be live action at first). i'll just end with that
Yeah when I initially saw photos of Manny and him side by side, there was a passing resemblance? Like both have a top-bun thing. After playing the game and seeing the mo-cap actor, I really don't buy it either. Idk, seeing how those kinds of haters conduct themselves, something tells me the fact that they both have accents (though Druckmann is Isreali and Manny is from... Mexico? I think) may have something to do with it :/

The Owen thing literally has no basis lol.

There is that Dr. Uckmann villain card that you find early on, which is the actual kinda cringey self-insert thing. iirc it mentions something like "pushing people to the brink of their abilities" which made me do the Jim-from-The-Office face. We all know ND has gotten shit for crunch, and putting a cheeky reference to it in your most ambitious project yet makes you look like a prick boss, honestly.

Yeah, the response to Joel's death makes me kinda glad I don't go into that fandom tbh. I understand being upset, but that being a main talking point about what the game did wrong kinda goes over my head. I don't want to say Joel "deserved" what he got but like... it's kind of expected, no??? In the first game, I sympathized with him, but it left me viewing him as a broken and fucked up guy. Idk, I understand not wanting him to go in such an awful manner, but a lot of what I've been seeing is people wanting him to get some sorta white-knight Iron Man treatment or something. That doesn't make sense to me at all, he's not exactly a hero? Anyways, the point I was trying make with regards to that is that I thought the ending for Game 1 was a lot more bleak than the ending to Game 2. That probably comes down to how I personally read things tho.

Unrelated, but I came across this concept art page and found this of Dina:

20200804_203900.jpg

I did a bit of a double take, because this total stranger who works at Naughty Dog has literally just been drawing me... with the exact look I've been rocking every day for the real world viral outbreak. No wonder Dina is best girl :awesome:

Seriously tho, Dina is basically my video game transplant and I love her so much.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
Unrelated, but I came across this concept art page and found this of Dina:
looking at the concept art it looks like some versions of owen had him with dark hair and a beard. and druckmann has dark hair and a beard. but would people have seen these when the theories were floating around? or does every guy with a beard look like neil druckmann

am i neil druckmann

Manny is from... Mexico?
when you're walking with owen as abby in the opening they talk about going to mexico and visiting manny's home

There is that Dr. Uckmann villain card that you find early on, which is the actual kinda cringey self-insert thing. iirc it mentions something like "pushing people to the brink of their abilities" which made me do the Jim-from-The-Office face. We all know ND has gotten shit for crunch, and putting a cheeky reference to it in your most ambitious project yet makes you look like a prick boss, honestly.
i didn't get this card on my playthrough but i did see an image of it, and i wish he would get shit for this instead of putting a beefy woman in his game.

it would be super cool if the lionising of being an abusive or over-demanding boss for the sake of ~art~ would not exist anymore.

wow this game just keeps on going, huh
when i first read this post i thought it was about the story being dark or something, but was it actually about something much more relatable: the never-ending series of blocked paths forcing you to take detours



i haven't gone back to the game since finishing it and starting new game+ (mainly because i haven't had much opportunity to use my ps4 but also i'm kind of feeling like moving on to something new), and i tried to form some tentatively final thoughts for now. but all i have is more whining about stuff that didn't work for me.


- going through the abby section where you see characters you killed in ellie's section, idk what they were going for with it. if you boil it down ridiculously simple it's "did you know that killing people... is maybe bad???" like wow stop, you're blowing my mind. lex basically said this but that could apply to all the enemies. i wonder if giving the mooks banter when one of their friends die where they're like "caroline, no!" and "they killed bob!" (which i did think was a nice touch to not make all the enemies faceless identikit clones with no character) was also there to make you think about how these are people with relationships and friends and lovers. like, even this rando has people who care about them. but this was a joke in the first austin powers movie and that came out over 20 years ago. i just started uncharted 4 so don't tell me if they're going to try to make me feel bad about all the pirates they're going to make me kill when all i want to do is to explore ruins and find treasure

- killing mel and what purpose it serves. killing a pregnant woman (albeit unknowingly) has a big impact on ellie in the moment, but does it have much of an impact after that? i guess it serves as impetus for abby to disregard ellie pleading that dina is pregnant until lev stops her. it doesn't seem to stop ellie from carrying on her quest for revenge. although now i think about it, maybe that's because ellie's reaction to it is then interrupted by hours of playing as abby and doing other shit. by the time we come back around to mel's death there's been enough time between ellie's part that i think it creates some emotional distance because we've been out of ellie's pov for so long. then i don't think it's referenced again? ellie isn't getting ptsd flashbacks about the pregnant lady she murdered, it doesn't influence her change of heart at the end as far as we're shown. was it just to make abby mad? also just, all this pregnancy. learn to pull out or make old-fashioned sheaths or something, jfc guys.

- mel suddenly being angry at abby. is this because she found out about her sleeping with owen? at the start of abby's days i thought mel might not like abby at all but that didn't seem to be the case. then later on she's all 'you're a piece of shit, abby' and it just feels very sudden.

- ellie's change of heart at the end. she spent months travelling to santa barbara, did she at no point rethink what she was doing? at first i assumed it had been maybe two or so weeks between leaving jackson and reaching santa barbara because i have no sense of american geography, but then the rattler guy says they got abby some months ago. the fact it skips her journey (thank god) makes it initially feel more immediate, but knowing it was months kinda makes me wonder what she was doing all that time. she seems to waver at the boats before fighting abby, but i feel like it could have incorporated more of that to set it up better.

- the purpose of the conflict between the wlf and the seraphites. is there a thematic purpose to this i'm missing? or is it just to give you more humans to fight but they do that creepy whistling now?

- was i supposed to care about abby's friends from the 'salt lake city crew'. i think owen gets enough development through abby's section that his death gets some retroactive weight (also he was hot, rip hot dude), mel gets default sympathy for being pregnant. but am i meant to feel something for justin[?], the guy whose face ellie slices? i'm going to be honest, when nora shows up in seattle i was like 'wait was she there in the beginning???' i only just now remembered the woman at the tv station (and that entire section because there are so many 'oops we went somewhere and didn't find what we were looking for' parts in this game), who i think was meant to be another one from the opening? maybe don't introduce half a dozen characters at once in a frantic scene and expect my tiny brain to remember them. my initial impression of manny in the abby section wasn't great because i just am not big on the whole womaniser character type; i think my opinion softened a bit later but he also disappears for a good part of her section. then he gets shot and i was just, 'oh okay bye then.'

- also manny calls joel 'pendejo' and in uncharted 4 there's a character at the start who says 'pendejo' to the main character and like my dudes, you can learn new spanish words. google some new swears.

- issac was creepy in mannerism and demeanour but appears so infrequently and we hear more about how scary he is than see it ourselves, which given the other stuff they're willing to show seems like an oversight if they wanted issac to be an intimidating presence.

- i did care about the horse but apparently no one in the game did.

- putting the dance flashback at the end.
i'm not sure where i heard this now, but apparently by having pulp fiction out of chronological order so the last scene has john travolta's character 'alive' at the end helped ease fears from the studio about having one of the protagonists die and that not playing well with the audience. by showing him walking out the diner alive and well, that's the image that sticks around for the viewer so you're not thinking oh yeah he's dead on a toilet.
what i'm trying to get at is, not only does the game end with dina gone, but also one of the final scenes we see is a character throwing slurs at them and it leaves a bad impression for me. i know it's apologised for in the narrative, but that also happened like 30 hours ago for the player. so what i'm left with at the end is ellie alone and her being called slurs. thanks i hate it.

- not a story thing but my headcanon is that ellie goes back to jackson and her and dina get back together. give me this you rotten bastards. i will accept 'the santa barbara stuff was all a dream~~' all i want is happy domestic lesbians

- lev. not lev himself, because i liked his character even if i wouldn't call him a particularly deep one overall. i guess it's not really a complaint so much as wondering out loud about writing a trans character. without just outright having them say 'i'm trans' or the author saying it (which if that's all there is isn't great). although those are better than shocking genital reveals or having another character misgender them like "you're a g-g-g-girl?!?" having lev misgendered and deadnamed makes sense for the story being told (although it was naughty dog's choice to tell this story in the first place) but i get why people wouldn't want to engage with it personally. are there good examples out there of trans character written in a way that's it's revealed in a casual or subtle way but not in the way where there's nothing in the text you can conclusively point to.


i have complained a lot about the game but i did enjoy it more than i was expecting, but i had also built up a negative impression after reading stuff so i might have lowered the bar for it prior to playing. sorry i can't seem to say a lot nice about you, game.

it is very pretty, probably the best 'acted' game i've ever seen (i was replaying a bit of ffx while playing this and it having expressive facial animations was a selling point and look how far we've come), and during the rat king section i had to briefly pause the game to gather myself because it was kind of terrifying

this post is a compliment sandwich, but it's one of those silly american sandwiches where there's too much filling and the top compliment has disappeared

i'm generally ambivalent about the need for adaptations of games to film, but if the hbo series is happening i would be interested to see if cutting out the gameplay and rearranging/restructuring things would improve the pacing. i am half tempted to edit a playthrough video myself to see if that changes my view on it.
 

Tetsujin

Ready for the mosh pit, shaka brah
AKA
Tets
I tried doing portrait style photos or something

Ellie's expression is a bit weird here but it's hard to get a good looking one when you can't set it yourself in photo mode. At least they have the characters do different expressions all the time and they rarely just do dead stares.



B/W automatically makes it art, it is known
Jesse looks cool here, I kinda like it



Idk I was experimenting so here's focus on Ellie giving Tommy the creepy sideeye through the rifle



Generic Joel in the sunset
But really the sun setting is a metaphor for his time running out y'see so it's actually deep

 
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Finally finished the game. Been playing it in bursts with the housemate who really wanted to watch my playthrough of it since we played the original together.

An incredible game through and through. I didnt think it would be possible to make a second game that had the potential to stay with me long after like the original did, but this is easily going to do that.

it was pure genius to tie the feel that the game should have ended at several points to the ongoing narrative and nature of revenge. Freaking genius. Just when is enough? How many more people need to die? And what if those people's loved ones then seek revenge? Who will break the cycle?

The questions just kept coming until i began to question who I was even rooting for any longer. It was always a grey situation but now this was as grey as it could be. There were no easy answers, only the views of what side the survivors were on. Which made the whole flipping to Abby to see her point of view such a great move.

There is so much that i need time to digest on, but that was an amazing game. Absolutely loved it. Incredible.
 

Strangelove

AI Researcher
AKA
hitoshura
looking at the concept art it looks like some versions of owen had him with dark hair and a beard. and druckmann has dark hair and a beard. but would people have seen these when the theories were floating around? or does every guy with a beard look like neil druckmann

am i neil druckmann


when you're walking with owen as abby in the opening they talk about going to mexico and visiting manny's home


i didn't get this card on my playthrough but i did see an image of it, and i wish he would get shit for this instead of putting a beefy woman in his game.

it would be super cool if the lionising of being an abusive or over-demanding boss for the sake of ~art~ would not exist anymore.


when i first read this post i thought it was about the story being dark or something, but was it actually about something much more relatable: the never-ending series of blocked paths forcing you to take detours



i haven't gone back to the game since finishing it and starting new game+ (mainly because i haven't had much opportunity to use my ps4 but also i'm kind of feeling like moving on to something new), and i tried to form some tentatively final thoughts for now. but all i have is more whining about stuff that didn't work for me.


- going through the abby section where you see characters you killed in ellie's section, idk what they were going for with it. if you boil it down ridiculously simple it's "did you know that killing people... is maybe bad???" like wow stop, you're blowing my mind. lex basically said this but that could apply to all the enemies. i wonder if giving the mooks banter when one of their friends die where they're like "caroline, no!" and "they killed bob!" (which i did think was a nice touch to not make all the enemies faceless identikit clones with no character) was also there to make you think about how these are people with relationships and friends and lovers. like, even this rando has people who care about them. but this was a joke in the first austin powers movie and that came out over 20 years ago. i just started uncharted 4 so don't tell me if they're going to try to make me feel bad about all the pirates they're going to make me kill when all i want to do is to explore ruins and find treasure

- killing mel and what purpose it serves. killing a pregnant woman (albeit unknowingly) has a big impact on ellie in the moment, but does it have much of an impact after that? i guess it serves as impetus for abby to disregard ellie pleading that dina is pregnant until lev stops her. it doesn't seem to stop ellie from carrying on her quest for revenge. although now i think about it, maybe that's because ellie's reaction to it is then interrupted by hours of playing as abby and doing other shit. by the time we come back around to mel's death there's been enough time between ellie's part that i think it creates some emotional distance because we've been out of ellie's pov for so long. then i don't think it's referenced again? ellie isn't getting ptsd flashbacks about the pregnant lady she murdered, it doesn't influence her change of heart at the end as far as we're shown. was it just to make abby mad? also just, all this pregnancy. learn to pull out or make old-fashioned sheaths or something, jfc guys.

- mel suddenly being angry at abby. is this because she found out about her sleeping with owen? at the start of abby's days i thought mel might not like abby at all but that didn't seem to be the case. then later on she's all 'you're a piece of shit, abby' and it just feels very sudden.

- ellie's change of heart at the end. she spent months travelling to santa barbara, did she at no point rethink what she was doing? at first i assumed it had been maybe two or so weeks between leaving jackson and reaching santa barbara because i have no sense of american geography, but then the rattler guy says they got abby some months ago. the fact it skips her journey (thank god) makes it initially feel more immediate, but knowing it was months kinda makes me wonder what she was doing all that time. she seems to waver at the boats before fighting abby, but i feel like it could have incorporated more of that to set it up better.

- the purpose of the conflict between the wlf and the seraphites. is there a thematic purpose to this i'm missing? or is it just to give you more humans to fight but they do that creepy whistling now?

- was i supposed to care about abby's friends from the 'salt lake city crew'. i think owen gets enough development through abby's section that his death gets some retroactive weight (also he was hot, rip hot dude), mel gets default sympathy for being pregnant. but am i meant to feel something for justin[?], the guy whose face ellie slices? i'm going to be honest, when nora shows up in seattle i was like 'wait was she there in the beginning???' i only just now remembered the woman at the tv station (and that entire section because there are so many 'oops we went somewhere and didn't find what we were looking for' parts in this game), who i think was meant to be another one from the opening? maybe don't introduce half a dozen characters at once in a frantic scene and expect my tiny brain to remember them. my initial impression of manny in the abby section wasn't great because i just am not big on the whole womaniser character type; i think my opinion softened a bit later but he also disappears for a good part of her section. then he gets shot and i was just, 'oh okay bye then.'

- also manny calls joel 'pendejo' and in uncharted 4 there's a character at the start who says 'pendejo' to the main character and like my dudes, you can learn new spanish words. google some new swears.

- issac was creepy in mannerism and demeanour but appears so infrequently and we hear more about how scary he is than see it ourselves, which given the other stuff they're willing to show seems like an oversight if they wanted issac to be an intimidating presence.

- i did care about the horse but apparently no one in the game did.

- putting the dance flashback at the end.
i'm not sure where i heard this now, but apparently by having pulp fiction out of chronological order so the last scene has john travolta's character 'alive' at the end helped ease fears from the studio about having one of the protagonists die and that not playing well with the audience. by showing him walking out the diner alive and well, that's the image that sticks around for the viewer so you're not thinking oh yeah he's dead on a toilet.
what i'm trying to get at is, not only does the game end with dina gone, but also one of the final scenes we see is a character throwing slurs at them and it leaves a bad impression for me. i know it's apologised for in the narrative, but that also happened like 30 hours ago for the player. so what i'm left with at the end is ellie alone and her being called slurs. thanks i hate it.

- not a story thing but my headcanon is that ellie goes back to jackson and her and dina get back together. give me this you rotten bastards. i will accept 'the santa barbara stuff was all a dream~~' all i want is happy domestic lesbians

- lev. not lev himself, because i liked his character even if i wouldn't call him a particularly deep one overall. i guess it's not really a complaint so much as wondering out loud about writing a trans character. without just outright having them say 'i'm trans' or the author saying it (which if that's all there is isn't great). although those are better than shocking genital reveals or having another character misgender them like "you're a g-g-g-girl?!?" having lev misgendered and deadnamed makes sense for the story being told (although it was naughty dog's choice to tell this story in the first place) but i get why people wouldn't want to engage with it personally. are there good examples out there of trans character written in a way that's it's revealed in a casual or subtle way but not in the way where there's nothing in the text you can conclusively point to.


i have complained a lot about the game but i did enjoy it more than i was expecting, but i had also built up a negative impression after reading stuff so i might have lowered the bar for it prior to playing. sorry i can't seem to say a lot nice about you, game.

it is very pretty, probably the best 'acted' game i've ever seen (i was replaying a bit of ffx while playing this and it having expressive facial animations was a selling point and look how far we've come), and during the rat king section i had to briefly pause the game to gather myself because it was kind of terrifying

this post is a compliment sandwich, but it's one of those silly american sandwiches where there's too much filling and the top compliment has disappeared

i'm generally ambivalent about the need for adaptations of games to film, but if the hbo series is happening i would be interested to see if cutting out the gameplay and rearranging/restructuring things would improve the pacing. i am half tempted to edit a playthrough video myself to see if that changes my view on it.
i have found the top to my compliment sandwich 🥪

hearing the plot had nothing to do with the infection beforehand made me think it would be majority human enemies. but it did end up having a fair amount of infected, even if they did tend to be in optional sections or forced length-padding detours. having them just as a natural element of the world without any focus on curing the infection kind of drives home the effect of joel’s choice at the end of the first game. this is just something people have to live with now
 

looneymoon

hedgehog pandacat
AKA
Rishi
- going through the abby section where you see characters you killed in ellie's section, idk what they were going for with it. if you boil it down ridiculously simple it's "did you know that killing people... is maybe bad???"
I like to imagine this kind of stuff if it was a hypothetical The Last of Us 3. I think it could potentially be very powerful if we get a game where we witness Ellie's descent into darkness, and get this other half 3-4 years later where we see the consequences of all of it. Idk, I chalk it up to being far too "epic" for it to be contained in the space allotment. Imo, at least.

The game is like one of those obnoxious people online who end everything they say with "let that sink in." Except I cant let that sink in, theres already something else that needs to sink in, why is there so much stuff sinking :(

- killing mel and what purpose it serves.
Not just a pregnant lady, one of the few surgeons left in the world. Just like papa Joel. Cuz every character in this story are different sides of the same coin ooOoooOooo :monster:

- ellie's change of heart at the end. she spent months travelling to santa barbara, did she at no point rethink what she was doing? at first i assumed it had been maybe two or so weeks between leaving jackson and reaching santa barbara because i have no sense of american geography, but then the rattler guy says they got abby some months ago. the fact it skips her journey (thank god) makes it initially feel more immediate, but knowing it was months kinda makes me wonder what she was doing all that time. she seems to waver at the boats before fighting abby, but i feel like it could have incorporated more of that to set it up better.
I don't think Seattle/Jackson/Santa Barbara are ludicrously far from each other, but I'm the wrong person to ask how long that would take on foot :wacky:

The ending still feels like a weird fever dream. I kinda almost thought it was at one point. There's a ton of religious imagery at the end there that I'm trying to grapple with? Especially since it seems to be coming from a Judaic lens, and I'm really not knowledgeable enough to say what exactly might be going on. I think Ellie goes through some spiritual awakening (rebirth? baptism?) when she has Abby at her mercy in the water. She gets a flash of Joel after losing her fingers, so I like to think the reality of him being gone, and the fact that nothing she does can fill that hole kind of hit her at that moment. By choosing to channel Joel's worst parts, she's lost connection with the humanity Joel regained by adopting Ellie as a daughter and leading a better life (represented by the loss of her fingers/inability to play guitar - it's the loss of Joel I think). Abby let her go twice at that point, and was already on the road of trying to forgive herself for everything she had become. When Ellie finally had the chance to take Abby out, it was the beginning of her own journey of self-forgiveness. I like to think that by choosing to stop projecting all her problems onto Abby, its also a sort of a reclamation of the decision Joel robbed her from in the first game? Like before she would have gladly given her life for a cure so it would "mean something." Then in the second game she eventually stops killing ("chooses life"), and is therefore actually able to choose for herself what her life can be.

I agree that much of the journey sells the message pretty short though, so the result can make all the ~symbolic imagery~ come across as pretentious drivel. It's messy, but I don't mind that so much because recovery is messy. I wish a lot of the build up had been reworked though definitely :/

I do appreciate the irony that Abby would be dead if Ellie hadn't come to cut her off that pike.

- the purpose of the conflict between the wlf and the seraphites. is there a thematic purpose to this i'm missing? or is it just to give you more humans to fight but they do that creepy whistling now?
I'm gonna hazard a huge guess and say that the fact that Druckman was born in Israel kinda informs whats going on here.

I took it as like... Abby and Lev were kinda outcast from different sides of a war because something something right and wrong something perspective something.

- was i supposed to care about abby's friends from the 'salt lake city crew'. i think owen gets enough development through abby's section that his death gets some retroactive weight (also he was hot, rip hot dude), mel gets default sympathy for being pregnant. but am i meant to feel something for justin[?], the guy whose face ellie slices? i'm going to be honest, when nora shows up in seattle i was like 'wait was she there in the beginning???' i only just now remembered the woman at the tv station (and that entire section because there are so many 'oops we went somewhere and didn't find what we were looking for' parts in this game), who i think was meant to be another one from the opening? maybe don't introduce half a dozen characters at once in a frantic scene and expect my tiny brain to remember them. my initial impression of manny in the abby section wasn't great because i just am not big on the whole womaniser character type; i think my opinion softened a bit later but he also disappears for a good part of her section. then he gets shot and i was just, 'oh okay bye then.'
amen. This game is really confusing about who you're... supposed to care about? Is it everyone? If so, you could have given them a bigger spotlight to have their moment. Idk, I guess sort of the point so "streeeetch your mind" for how much you can care for complete strangers. But like, isn't it your job to make me care??? Wouldnt it have made the point better if you showed me that I should care?

- issac was creepy in mannerism and demeanour but appears so infrequently and we hear more about how scary he is than see it ourselves, which given the other stuff they're willing to show seems like an oversight if they wanted issac to be an intimidating presence.
He shows up in person exactly twice. When he's introduced and when he dies. I thought he was gonna be a David-esque awful dictator like villain but nope. Dead by one-armed baby child friend.

- i did care about the horse but apparently no one in the game did.
amen :sadpanda: rip shimmer

- not a story thing but my headcanon is that ellie goes back to jackson and her and dina get back together. give me this you rotten bastards. i will accept 'the santa barbara stuff was all a dream~~' all i want is happy domestic lesbians
Part of the character arcs (for Abby, Lev, and I think Ellie as well) is overcoming your greatest fear. Abby has her thing with heights, Levs pets a dog. Ellie in the first game says her greatest fear is being alone. I want to think that she spends some time by herself before rejoining Jackson and winning back her girl. I read some speculation that when she leaves to Santa Barbera she isnt wearing Dina's bracelet, but the end scene she is. So I'm holding out hope for her, after she takes some time to chill out alone :monster:

- lev. not lev himself, because i liked his character even if i wouldn't call him a particularly deep one overall. i guess it's not really a complaint so much as wondering out loud about writing a trans character. without just outright having them say 'i'm trans' or the author saying it (which if that's all there is isn't great). although those are better than shocking genital reveals or having another character misgender them like "you're a g-g-g-girl?!?" having lev misgendered and deadnamed makes sense for the story being told (although it was naughty dog's choice to tell this story in the first place) but i get why people wouldn't want to engage with it personally. are there good examples out there of trans character written in a way that's it's revealed in a casual or subtle way but not in the way where there's nothing in the text you can conclusively point to.
Yeah Lev is a difficult topic, because I think his ~trans journey~ makes sense in the context of what happens in this story. At the same time, the only purpose of his being trans is so that he can suffer and give Abby a redemption arc. He's a tokenized woobie (do people even use that word anymore?). Also, this entire world is depressing as hell, so of course he's gonna go through a bad time for being trans. Like, I don't think this is super groundbreaking representation, but I also don't think it's trying to be in the way many people are claiming it to be.

If anything, its juat tossing a coin into the well of very few trans characters in media, and doing their best with it. The game is dark and heavy overall, so I don't blame anyone (trans or otherwise, but yeah trans people in this conversation) for not wanting to engage in it.

When I think of trans men in media, I tend to remember a lot of characters from lesbian-lens stuff like Max from The L Word or the movie adaptation of Boys Don't Cry. Which all just. Kinda treat the trans men like lesbians. TLOU2 certainly isn't that, at the very least.

There's a chance this aspect may not age well, also.

i have complained a lot about the game but i did enjoy it more than i was expecting, but i had also built up a negative impression after reading stuff so i might have lowered the bar for it prior to playing. sorry i can't seem to say a lot nice about you, game.
Same. I think? I've never felt so confused and intrigued with how to engage with a game tbh.

Also @ HBO I have no acting experience, but I am willing to lose weight and take money for actually looking for a video game character for once in my life :sadpanda:
 
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EDIT: More details

Graphic, audio, gameplay modifiers:
  • Mirror World
  • Mirror on Death
  • Slow Motion
  • Bullet Speed mode
  • Infinite Ammo
  • Infinite Crafting
  • Infinite Melee Durability
  • Infinite Listen mode Range
  • One Shot
  • Touch of Death
  • 8-bit Audio
  • 4-bit Audio
  • Helium Audio
  • Xenon Audio
Options and improvements
  • Saves now display playtime up to the second
  • Film Grain Adjustment option
  • Disable Listen Mode option
  • Motion Sensor Function Aiming option
  • Arc Throw HUD Display option
  • Aiming Acceleration Scale option
  • Aiming Ramp Power Scale option
  • Accessibility improvements to Ground Zero encounter, collectible tracking, Enhanced Listen Mode for collectibles, and rope gameplay
**In-game pre-order bonuses and some options and gameplay modifiers are disabled during Grounded difficulty gameplay.
***Some options and gameplay modifiers are disabled during Permadeath mode.
 
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Hi folks, I finally finished my playthrough - which I had been sharing with a couple of friends of mine, as we had shared a communal playthrough of the first game way back when. I also did my best not to be spoiled before playing.
A few thoughts: I really enjoyed the game, and from a technical standpoint it's quite incredible. The quality of the environments, the models, etc. is astounding. The gameplay didn't seem revolutionary but still fairly solid, with a very visceral feel to it. It also felt like a natural evolution of Naughty Dog games, seeing as they had structured more "open-world" sections in some of the chapters a bit like they had done for the last Uncharted.
The game was very ambitious and I agree with the notion that it felt overworked. It also seemed like it was never-ending: like the characters, the game itself didn't know when to call it quits.
The thing that didn't quite work for me is the theme of the story and the characters involved, which is a bit of a shame. To be fair, I'm not a "revenge" kind of guy. Still, what annoyed me a little was that all the characters were set in such a grey morality setting that I never felt I was really caring for anyone. It's not like I hated any of the characters either, it was quite refreshing to present both sides of the story, which were very much mirrored. So, personally, I ended up neither liking or disliking anyone, as though I was stuck in a strange mucky-middle of emotional attachment.
In the end, even though this is the most impressive game I've played on the PS4, there are quite a few games I enjoyed more than this one - I preferred the experience I had with FF7 remake and Ghost of Tsushima to be honest.
 
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