'The Last of Us Part II' Is a Grim and Bloody Spectacle, but a Poor Sequel

There is a common saying that if you seek revenge, you should dig two graves. Playing The Last of Us Part II is like being made to dig those graves with your teeth.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxqnxy/last-of-us-part-2-review
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Well, they did make it abundantly clear that they were making this game.

I’m not sure whether Rob reads these comments, but if someone else has played this game, could one argue that this game is a deliberate high-budget exercise in nihilism like John Hillcoat’s adaptation of The Road or Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter? Or does this game think it’s meaningful on a level beyond that?

Judging by the nightmare storm of interviews with the head guy on the project, like how this was inspired by seeing an online lynching video among many other stupid things, I think he thinks he’s saying something really profound when all he’s done is make the most bog standard revenge tale ever.

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I remember when that dude put on a stage show of TLoU cutscenes with the original cast and it was one of the most self-indulgent things I’ve ever seen. He and some other ND producer were the guys who staged the leadership coup that got Amy Hennig kicked from Uncharted 4, so between that and the systemic covering-up of sexual harassments and assaults at the studio I feel fairly confident in my subterranean opinion of him.

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I know there will be plenty of people who will love this game but I personally was turned off forever when I saw this article

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Based just off of Riley’s review over at Kotaku it seems like I probably won’t enjoy this that much. On the other hand I’m always fascinated by these big budget monstrosities that seem to only exist to satisfy the hubris of its creator.

I’ve been getting some very strong David Cage vibes off this one, yeah.

I’m not surprised that the Waypoint crew wasn’t going to like this one - they generally aren’t bamboozled by the “expensive = good” fallacy that tends to permeate the enthusiast press. I’m going to be really interested to see where the Giant Bomb crew comes down on this one.

I didn’t even hate the first one of these but Neil “I somehow both sided a lynching and made it all about me anyways” Druckmann has been such an abhorrent garbage can of a person that i can’t even pretend like this game won’t make me angry from the jump.

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Im also reading the Kotaku review right now and this is jumping out at me:

Like, I think this is it. This is why Sony’s first party “prestige” house style sucks, to me. I genuinely don’t feel like these games say anything that hasnt been said a million times before, which is totally fine i dont really care about that aspect of it, but they often say it like they’re the first things to ever say it, and its really frustrating because theres nothing wrong with re-treading well trod territory. Mafia 3 does the revenge story beautifully, imo, but thats because it knows exactly what it is.

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I don’t want to lay this all at the feet of Sony’s house style, though. Insomniac demonstrated that working under Sony’s umbrella doesn’t mean that you immediately need to revert to the Sad Dads Dark Colors mean.

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I think Spider-Man is the exception to the rule, though. That game is fantastic and I think Insomniac did a great job with it, but literally since Uncharted 2 Sony as a company has prized itself on having “deep mature stories” that all basically amount to “white guy kills a lot of people and feels sad about it, because maybe he’s the real villain” and maybe he has a girlfriend or wife or kid that he has to learn to care about along the way. (I will also say that I think Sunset Overdrive is a much more interesting and bold game than Spider-Man and was the last big-budget game Insomniac made before working with Sony full time)

This is videogames, basically, but Sony’s first party studios will often package this story up into some setting or another, and then act as if they’re unique or special or pushing the envelope, and I genuinely don’t think they are. They’re expensive technical marvels that want to be so important and significant, like Hollywood movies! But say nothing I can’t get from National Treasure.

And you know what? National Treasure is fine! I like Nic Cage and I like adventure movies! But its exhausting when a bunch of Important Videogame Men say that their game that is literally just an adventure movie is a groundbreaking important, unique cultural object when they’re doing the same things that countless things have done before it.

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…I got distracted by the idea of Nicholas Cage playing Nathan Drake in the Uncharted movie.

I guess I’d be interested to see where Naughty Dog et. al. go after this round of Sad Dads. Sony Santa Monica is almost certainly going to make another God of War, but I have to feel like someone in those studios is ready to break out a color in the palette than gray and occasionally a very dark green.

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I think that’s overly broad for Sony’s output. Off the top of my head I can think of Until Dawn, MLB The Show, The Last Guardian, Dreams, Gran Turismo, and Horizon Zero Dawn as not being overly grim meditations on violence. That’s not to say that they don’t have that output, as Naughty Dog, Santa Monica, and Quantic Dream so aptly demonstrate, but there’s plenty outside of the prestige aesthetic in Sony’s portfolio.

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Ill admit that my last post was too broad, because I think that Gran Turismo absolutely falls into Sony’s aesthetic. Speaking as a long time fan of the GT games, they’ve always had a strange air of being a high minded superior car driving game, with its opening movies of Toyota Prius’ being built and (admittedly very good) jazz soundtracks. This is something I’ve only been able to get past through joking about it kind of relentlessly because I can’t tell if the developers are genuine or not.

I think this is definitely a thread that finds its way through a lot of Sony’s first and second party output, even if I do absolutely love some of those games, like GT, or Team Ico’s (rip) games.

EDIT: Look im on not very much sleep and very much posting through my frustrations with the general consensus toward “prestige games” i’ve seen anecdotally, but idk y’all i hope that games crit thinking this game is a bummer generally is the start of a re-examination of this stuff for real.

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Something that has been weird for me to see is that this game has a 96 on Metacritic, despite literally every review I’ve read of it having deep problems with it. I think what this comes down to is the more thoughtful side of games media axing review scores a few years back. I understand the reasons that shift happened (a certain extended harassment campaign that will go unnamed comes to mind), but I can’t help but feel that it’s helped games like this and God of War 2018 have a veneer of an extremely positive critical consensus.

I dunno, maybe in a few years we’ll get a complete reversal of the consensus a-la Bioshock Infinite.

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FWIW if I go to Metacritic there’s a litany of 100s from sites I’ve just… never heard of, alongside a bunch of sites I hear of and never read (Attack of the Fanboy; God is a Geek?) There’s just an absolute glut of websites that review games that you never, ever hear about. And they’ll help prop up a consensus that this is a masterpiece of a game.

I think in the actual games crit space there’s already a consensus: this game’s a fuckin bummer, at minimum.

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The new FFVII is pretty squarely in the general rhythms of prestige Sony games, and is not particularly grimdark at all. Most of the walking and talk conversation is pleasant character-building. Especially some really charming friending stuff between Tifa and Aerith.

I really don’t think this style of game needs to be brutal or grim at all. The latest Uncharted is not that, and that was Naughty Dog. (Heck, Uncharted 4 turns into a pure adventure halfway through.)

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My Twitter feed, an absolutely scientific and perfect sample of data, ranges from “it’s a lavishly produced nightmare of a game that made me FEEL things 10/10 GOTY” to “it’s a lavishly produced nightmare of a game with terrible storytelling 0/10 Naughty Dog sucks”

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Yeah my highly scientific twitter so far is like one 5 star and then a bunch of people dunking on a guy who compared it to A Certain Movie in black and white (that isn’t based on a cormac mccarthy novel) and everyone else is bummed the fuck out.

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That take literally made me spit take this morning. Just a completely unimaginably bad comparison!

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