It’s 2:47 am on a Tuesday morning
I got into a cold bed at 2:35 am after playing The Last of Us Part II. Again.
For clarity I just finished the area that is allowed to be previewed pre-embargo lifting and I can’t stop thinking about it. In fact I thought about it all the way to work. While I was at work, then all the way home. Being a week behind other outlets I wasn’t going to run a preview, but here we are.
In a couple of days full reviews will hit, next week the game will be out. For now we can lift the lid on a taste of what to expect.
Day 2, Finding Nora
This section of the game sees Ellie striking out to find the mysterious Nora, for reasons. Ellie has to make her way across the city to a WLF Hospital where Nora is holding up. The game pulls none of its Naughty Dog pedigree punches throughout the mission. Encounters lead to some fantastic moment to moment gameplay. Stealth your way around enemies, work a vantage point and make plans. Those plans may well come off, but more often the AI will circumvent your intentions, that and your own fault.
Fans of the first game will be right at home with the encounters and using the listen button to give you indication of threats. A new feature here is to show your scent trail, this is active when the bad guys bring their dogs. The dogs are relentless attackers that will rip your face off as soon as look at you. This I know from experience, and if they don’t succeed their handler will have flanked you.
The path to the hospital moves through part of the city, complete with an array of enemies. As expected the atmosphere is thick and in between combat the quiet times are full of tension building nervousness. Danger and surprises can lurk around each corner, as can essential materials The Last of Us Part II is no stranger to the trademark Naughty Dog crafting system, but they are scarce. Just like the first outing, the game doesn’t offer up buckets of materials. Scavenging really is scavenging and you are never more than a few shots away from empty. It all builds Risk versus Reward, and reminds you how even the quiet sections where nothing happens have you edging around expecting a flurry of action.
The mid-section of this mission takes Ellie through an overgrown park, this is a turning point. A sudden arrow lodges in Ellie’s shoulder, leaving her suddenly wounded and vulnerable. Followed immediately by a piercing whistle and the introduction to the Scars, a tribe Ellie has not encountered before. Scars are at home in the undergrowth, masters of stealth and redirection. You can’t help but feel nervous, challenged even. As the hunter becomes the hunted. On the other side of the park is a disused parking garage that keen eyed Last of Us Part II watchers will recognise from E3 a couple of years ago. Out of the undergrowth and back behind concrete I felt better matched against the Scars.
Once the parking structure is behind you, Ellie’s path takes a short detour through a department store. A quick swim (yes, swim) into a handy back door and an epic skirmish into the hospital. The gameplay flows from one environment to another. The combat and resulting violence is just as gruesome up close as it is when dealt from a distance. Bodies remain, entrails are spilled and blood spatters, it even gets left in footprints if you’re not careful.
If we could sit in the pub and talk about The Last of Us Part II all night, we’d still have plenty to say at closing time. Stories to tell, sharing memories of sweet corners we’ve explored or jump scares we’ve had. Right now, we can’t.
Ellie finally confronts Nora with the line “Remember me? Yeah, you remember me.”, lady we’ll be remembering you for a very long time.
Remember to come back on Friday evening for our Review and Youtube video.
Thanks again to Playstation and Naughty Dog for the opportunity to review The Last of Us Part II before release.