Sony dribbles news on The Last of Us, Part II, and today he opened the door for critics to give their first impressions of one of the game’s tense action scenes.
Sony’s The Last of Us, Part II It’s been seven years since the first game debuted in 2013 and has won numerous game of the year awards. The title debuts on June 19 on PlayStation 4. With more than 100 million PS4 sold, Sony has the chance to sell tens of millions of copies of this game (in 2018, The Last of Us had sold 17 million d ‘copies).
I played the original game and found the story deeply touching. They were teenage Ellie and surly smuggler Joel – two survivors of the zombie apocalypse who spend their days trying to survive. The graphic violence of the original was horrible, but more often than not it was perpetrated by Joel on behalf of the protection of Ellie, and later it was Ellie who protected Joel. After about 22 hours of playing, I decided it was my favorite game of all time, and I interviewed the creators of the game on the grueling experience.
At the end of this interview, the game’s co-director, Neil Druckmann, said to me, “Now that we’re done and we’ve had time to rest, the question is, is there a another story to tell in this world? We are trying to understand that. We don’t want to make the Reloaded Matrix of video games. [laughs] Can You Sponsor Part II of Video Games? It would be the test. If we find something exciting at this level, we will do it. If we don’t, we will do something else. “
Naughty Dog found its way with the sequel. In the second part, Ellie and Joel settled in a thriving human city in Jackson, Wyoming, five years after the events of the first game. But something tragic happens and Ellie goes in search of reprisals and justice.
The scene I’m talking about – dubbed “Finding Nora” – takes place in Seattle, halfway through Ellie’s second day. I played the entire game as part of a review embargo, and this is my first chance to give my impressions of this particular scene, which Sony showed last week during a presentation of the inventory. This solo mission is a faithful representation of the gameplay and the difference with the original game.
Improvements over the original
Seeing the extended Part II trailer this week and playing the stage, I felt a new appreciation for the difference between the old game and the new game in gameplay and graphics enhancements. The story covers seasons and climates, including the snows of Jackson, Wyoming, and the lush landscapes of Seattle. Shadows, lighting and attention to detail bring cities to life in all weathers. This may make it the prettiest game ever created on PlayStation 4 in terms of graphics, but it also has the ugliest fights.
You can’t interact with everything. You can open some drawers. And the environment is not destructible, like Battlefield games. But the look is good. Cities look like you would expect them to deal with a pandemic. Jackson has snowflakes flying in the air, and Seattle overgrown with blades of grass – which sometimes seem a little too regular in their formation – blowing in the wind.
Ellie can do more by interacting with the environment and enemy fighters. It can swing on ropes, cross vertical structures to avoid trouble, navigate on boats, ride horses, climb ropes, jump over breaches, break the glass and crawl in the grass to sneak on enemies for stealth attacks. Its movements are fluid and, more than ever, you will feel like you are interacting in a cinematic experience.
She faces tougher enemies such as dogs who can follow in her footsteps, stealthy warriors who can attack her with arrows and a large number of zombies. Ellie can sprint, dodge attacks and time her counter attacks. She can use her enemies as a shield and get help from her friends. This makes the fight much more diverse than in The Last of Us.
And as she could in the first game, Ellie can pit enemies against each other, causing the zombies to attack human enemies. You can invest in role-playing skills, upgrade your weapons on the benches, and collect resources so you can craft everything, including medical kits and explosive arrows.
What this scene shows
The Last of Us stood out from other zombie games because the fighting was intimate and complex. Each duel with a zombie or a human enemy was a struggle for life or death. You barely had enough bullets to get through part of the game. You had to hit your headshots or waste precious ammo. You weren’t a superhero. And if you ignored an enemy, it would blind you from your side. You have to ask yourself if you should run or fight, and how to deal with a force that, if you approach head on, will kill you easily.
The section begins as Ellie leaves her own base in a theater in Seattle in search of a character named Nora in a hospital controlled by the Washington Liberation Front, one of the groups that oppose the central government of FEDRA in life after the pandemic. The WLF will shoot the sighted intruders, and Ellie has them when she shoots down the guards one by one.
In Finding Nora, Ellie walks through downtown Seattle to the hospital. But she cannot just walk the streets, which are overgrown with vegetation, destroyed by earthquakes and assaulted by the infected, as we call zombies, and WLF patrols.
Ellie can make a silencer on her .45 caliber pistol, or use a long-range bow, to quietly exit soldiers. But the Clickers, who have hard shells on their heads, take two headshots to shoot them.
But the most effective way to kill an enemy is in silence, with just a knife. As Ellie sneaks up on human enemies, she grabs them with one hand on her mouth, puts them to sleep to stop fighting saying “shut up”, then stabs them brutally in the chin strap.
If you are in the correct position, you can execute these withdrawal movements by simply pressing a triangle button on the PlayStation controller, then the square button. If you spoil them and the target turns on you, the scene becomes noisy. The target will howl and everyone within hearing distance will converge on Ellie.
Too often it results in death. But if Ellie runs and kills enemies with sticks with attached scissors, she can send enemies into melee combat, seek cover, and escape from the locked enemy circle. It happens a bit in this scene as Ellie makes her way through multi-story buildings and woods.
To progress through the city, you have to make detours in almost all available buildings, looking for supplies, infected soldiers or WLF to take away. You will often find the last notes from a long time ago, next to skeletons on the floor, where people describe their last moments and wishes for their loved ones. This highlights the severity of the pandemic.
You have lots of puzzles to solve. You can use vertical thinking, like going to a higher floor to find a bridge across buildings or a window sill where you can step out, throw a rope on a balcony rail, and swing to another platform. There you can break the glass and access a room behind a closed door. You have to find a way to get a dumpster out of a locked garage so you can use it to jump over a fence. This is how you spend most of your time in the Nora mission. Action scenes are rare.
You can fall asleep in complacency. When Ellie finds a workbench, you can upgrade a gun. But while you are doing this, a WLF soldier sneaks up on you and tries to get you out. A shootout with several soldiers takes place. I pulled out a shotgun to shoot everyone at once, and if I injured one, I shot them with a melee strike with a pointed club on the head.
When you find the infected, you have to face several types. Clickers are fast, but they can only “see” by echolocation. Runners can see, but they are not as strong. The Stalkers are weak but surprisingly fast, and they emerge from the dark. If you make too much noise by removing one, many will run after you. As Ellie emerges from one of these fights, she says, “Fuck Seattle.”
On the way to the hospital, Ellie arrives in a forest with large trees and ferns covering the ground. She meets a new type of human enemy, a religious faction called “Seraphites”, or derisively called “Scars” by the WLF. They use stealth and rely on bows and melee weapons. Ellie has to fight inside a broken parking garage, hiding among cars and grass growing on concrete. If you’re lucky, you can get through this section with a knife job. But it takes a lot of patience and crawling.
When you finally swim in the hospital area, you come across an unsuspecting Asian woman from the WLF. She pauses, plays a game on a PlayStation Vita (perhaps one of the last survivors in the world), and she can’t hear him sneaking in. Ellie questions him and loosens his grip. The woman turns around and tries to stab Ellie, who blocks her and stabs her throat. It’s still a disturbing death among so many others in this game. After that, I made a noise and took out the guards from the building.
When Ellie opens doors, they are often locked. She has to find a way around them. Once inside the hospital, it climbs into the conduits to avoid the heavily guarded corridors. In the trailer, Ellie walks past a resource in the form of a roll of duct tape and continues. In the game, I would never do that, because these resources are precious for crafting. So I delete a section and look everywhere for resources. It’s only when I’m done that I move on, and that extends my gaming sessions.
Finally, Ellie leaves the conduits, catches Nora alone and points a gun at her.
As Ellie finds Nora, she asks, “Do you remember me?” It’s a moment as tense and intimate as you will find throughout the game.