At the time of writing, The Last of Us II has an average of 4 out of ten user reviews on Metacritic. That’s especially low for a AAA game, and what’s more bizarre is that the critic reviews come to more than 9 out of ten.
Well, if you wanted proof that there’s still a problem with misogyny and homophobia in gaming, on the surface it does look like Last of Us II is proof of that. With a lot of the negative user reviews appearing when the game had only been out for a few hours (it took me 30 hours to complete it) something certainly stinks.
But don’t be pulling out your pitchforks yet – there are problems with the game, which admittedly takes a lot of risks, that have given it deserved criticism.
Rainbows in Hell
The Last of Us follows the story of a teenage girl Ellie, and her eventual near-enough adopted father Joel. Stuck in a world where an outbreak of a mould-creating virus has rendered anyone bitten into a slavering monster, Ellie is the only known person to be immune to the disease.
Her and Joel bond over their journey to take her to a facility that would be able to create a cure using her immunity as a source, with Joel seeing a lot of his long-dead 12-year-old daughter in Ellie.
The first game was one of the most critically acclaimed ever. Marrying smooth gameplay with a perfectly paced plotline and engaging voice acting, TLOU is often considered one of the most hard-hitting gaming experiences you can get. TLOU2 Had big shoes to fill. And for a lot of people, it didn’t do that.
The first problem that those chucking those poor reviews at the game appear to have is that the main character, Ellie, is gay. She has a romantic friendship with a bisexual girl of Jewish origin. The lesbian relationship is not sexualized, which may well be the problem for some slobbering morons screaming about how the game supposedly panders to some sort of gay agenda. You know, the one that would totally exist in a post-apocalyptic world.
It’s presented as a normal relationship because that’s what it is. It’s not played for titillation and is honestly really cute. Like, proper “aww they love each other, I feel all warm and fuzzy now” cute.
Having a lesbian main character shouldn’t be discounted as an SJW move; lesbians exist.
When looking at the reviews, it does seem that only a small amount of people are angry about the “gay agenda”, apparently foaming at the mouth at the idea of anything other than a cis relationship being portrayed in a video game. If you don’t want to play a game because the lead has a sexual orientation that you don’t feel caters to your needs, take a look at yourself. Or, you know, just play another game.
The Big Picture
The main problem most negative reviewers have with the game, if they aren’t busy gammoning about the LGBTQ aspects, is the issue of Joel.
After plugging the idea that you’ll get to play as Joel in the game with their teasers and letting you play as him for a short time at the start, developers Naughty Dog instead offer up a new character – Abby – who you spend half of the game playing as.
Abby is a hench as hell lass, tempered by her time in the army and driven by a blazing sense of revenge. YouSomegot to wonder how the hell does she get herself so stacked in a post-apocalyptic world, but I dunno; maybe she uncovered a stash of protein shakes.
There are moans of dissent from gamers pretty pissed that she doesn’t appear overly feminine.
This gatekeeping of what a woman should look like, speaking as a biological female, is boring and old, so let’s discount that right away.
The main problem with Abby is that you’re forced to listen to her story, and you’re forced to play as her after she does something that will make you hate her early on in the game. Like, HATE hate. You’ll want her dead too until you realise that’s the whole point of the story.
The main problem with Abby is that you’re forced to listen to her story, and you’re forced to play as her after she does something that will make you hate her early on in the game
Driven by Hatred
The storyline does seem to have problems at times – to simplify it, you’re just seeing two people descend into monstrosity who then, for no particular reason, decide not to be monsters?
It’s a bit much really – going around executing other humans simply to get to the next area, only to have your characters be upset that the other character has done the same thing to her friends.
Yes, it’s a game about hate and revenge. But the revenge is inconsistent, and the guilt of killing so many people is only a problem to Abby – even though she only acts on that guilt once by choosing to save certain characters by virtue of the fact they are young teens.
Playing the Game
The gameplay is fun. I mean, this time around you arent killing enough moldy lads in my opinion; instead, you’re slashing the throats of a bunch of humans, which does make you feel like kind of a dick. Of course, that’s the point of the game – making you question ethics, human conditions…killing walking mold packets doesn’t have the same effect, does it. You don’t get all sad when you’re chucking Dettol on the shelves of your fridge.
The story is so, so heavy on these “in avoiding monsters the humans have become monsters themselves” narrative. I just want to kill some zombies.
You can choose different game difficulties, and the normal difficulty isn’t especially difficult until you are fighting beasts later on. But to be honest, I found the difficulty came from messing up my controls.
The number of times I’d be running away from some screaming, mouldy version of Katie Hopkins and accidentally press the inventory button was crazy. And when you do that, Ellie or Abby pull their backpack off their back and crouch to unzip it.
By the time you’ve yelled GET THE FUCK UP while frantically pressing the square button, Ellie’s windpipe has been ripped out.
The number of times I’d be running away from some screaming, mouldy version of Katie Hopkins and accidentally press the inventory button was crazy.
When playing on either of the two easiest modes, or even the normal mode, the sneak detection on the human enemies is laughable.
You’ll be crouched in long grass stood right in front of a fella with a bow and arrow, only for him to mutter “they must have gone” and wander off. This Skyrim-level of AI is of course pretty essential for a game based on sneaking around, but I mean come on.
You can change the sneak detection settings independently in the options, and it only becomes fun and a challenge when you put them up. Otherwise, the gameplay is essentially a metaphor for Instagram and it’s response to offensive content.
Switching between guns can be a fair nightmare too, and feels more clunky than the same action in the previous game. You need to press and hold the square button and scroll through to access different guns in one of four types. Not a problem when you’re not in combat, but when you are and need to switch to a shotgun that hasn’t run out of ammo, you can’t do it without stopping moving or using your damn big toe to press the d-pad.
The storyline is almost entirely based upon errands. Set up in a home base (both characters have their own) you are forever going out, coming back, being told you need to go somewhere else, going out…it is kind of repetitive. Also, speaking of repetitive…HOW many locked doors?
Apparently, the only ‘puzzles’ TLOU is capable of is ‘how do I get through another locked door’ or ‘what is the combo for this safe that someone in a note I found said has some stuff in it I might want.’ By the way, for the latter, the answer is ‘it’s either written on said note or someone had the foresight to write it on a whiteboard six years ago or whatever’.
The buddy AI is good. I mean, I might be speaking biased because I just recently finished Daikatana, but it is enjoyable playing with a sidekick because they don’t ever get in the way. If you try to walk into them they bounce out of the way immediately. Plus, they aren’t stupid and only rarely need saving.
The buddy AI is good. I mean, I might be speaking biased because I just recently finished Daikatana, but it is enjoyable playing with a sidekick because they don’t ever get in the way.
Then again, the number of times Ellie or Abby will find themselves about the be murdered, only for a buddy character to come from absolutely nowhere and prevent it is mad. It must happen 5 times at least. Is Abby about to get stabbed by this mad lad in a cutscene? No, of course, she’s not, her friend she told not to follow her has followed her somehow without dying and sorts the problem out.
Using a shotgun is very satisfying. Using all the weapons is fun. I was well into the bow and arrow Ellie uses. The personal development story of the characters is interesting and well done. However, with all this chopping and changing between characters and also the wealth of flashback scenes, it can get confusing working out what the hell is going on.
But, despite all this, the storyline and the acting ruined me.
More than a Game
This game was a rollercoaster for me – from going to hating Abby to loving her, from loving Ellie to realising she’s often selfish, from being nonchalant about killing the army to actually feeling bad about it. I laughed a couple of times, but I mostly cried. I also gasped in shock once or twice, and my god – the amount of times my skin crawled because of the explicit torture and gore in the game.
It’s not torture porn as far as I’m concerned. And I say that as a person who cannot stand torture porn – mindless bloody films like Hostel and Saw turn me off. I don’t get it. But TLOU2 is a representation of what humanity will probably descend into after anarchy, after the destruction of government.
It’s all people struggling to survive at the expense of others. Morals go out of the window when everyone else around you is a degenerate. Also, while it’s uncomfortable to think about, all the horrendous stuff that happens in the game does happen in real life. Because people are shits.
while it’s uncomfortable to think about, all the horrendous stuff that happens in the game does happen in real life. Because people are shits.
I loved this game. I can’t express how much it moved me, how much it shocked me, and how much it made me think. I have never played a game that had such a profound effect on me, and never been so invested in a story that I played it for 20 hours straight.
I do wish there had been more of a story about the moldy cadavers you share your world with – it would have have been wonderful to learn more about where it came from, how it became so prevalent, and even why it is that Ellie is immune.
But the game is about Ellie’s and Abby’s story, and they don’t care about that – they care about surviving and protecting the people they love. It just sucks that by doing that, they have to be pitted against each other.
I would say its perfectly safe to ignore those crappy reviews on Metacritic. Or at least, make sure you discount any of the reviews that rave on about SJW appeasing and all that bollocks. Honestly, after a lifetime playing games that depict women exclusively sexually and only cater to cis men (even fetishising lesbian relationships for them – hello, mass effect 1 and 2) this was a breath of fresh air. It’s a lot of fun to play and is so perfectly acted with excellent scriptwriting that it becomes an experience.
8.8 out of ten!