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The Last Of Us 2 or Ellie's No Good, Very Bad Day
#1
figure I put up a thread for TLOU2 since it came out today.  I only played about an hour of it so it's not enough to form any in depth impression.  But the one thing that is apparent pretty much from the get-go--TLOU2 is fucking pretty.  Like really pretty.  Absolutely ND should get called out for its liberal use of Cap'n Crunch, but it can't be denied that you see all that work on screen, even on a standard Ps4.  

The gameplay is pretty much the same as the original game, but fighting and shooting feels a little bit more responsive than they did.

I think the issue that's largely going to come up is possible burn out since this game is 30+ hours long.  And all reviews indicate that TLOU2's narrative is very much "no fun allowed" especially since even in the opening moments, Ellie just seems drained.  You can really tell that Joel's lie came at a cost; gone is the spunky teenager, and in it's place is a far colder and more reserved character.  But so far, I'm really excited to see where this all leads to.
"There's only one question to resolve. I'm scared. I feel a little crazy. I'm not lucid. The assumptions are right. I can feel my fear growing. Now is the time for the answer. Just one question. One question to answer.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
[i]WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?






[/i]


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#2
I want to give this a try, but I have yet to find a review that could be summed up as a confused shrug.
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#3
Installing my discs now. I've heard it's a nice pleasant uplifting Katamari Damacy style game, perfect for these troubled times.
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#4
I'm a couple hours into Seattle Day 2. This is by far the best non-Bandicoot ND game I've played.

I'd recommend looking at all the Accesibility options. Auto item pickup is great, no need to mash the triangle button 5000 times. I also turned motion blur down to 7, default 10 is too much when the camera turns. I tried 0, but then you notice the nasty temporal resolution ghosting.

I wasn't wild about the snow area's look, but the drizzly part of Seattle is stunning looking. Very evocative lighting. They are using every PS4 graphical trick in the book here. It looks as good as Gears 5 on One X.

This is the first ND game where I like the combat. Uncharted gunfights and brawls are ass. TLOU1 was okay, but I was fine with cruising through on Easy. TLOU2, I'm enjoying on Hard. The gameplay has more options, more consistent feeling rules, and wider areas to operate in. Prone sneaking is a godsend, as is everything else that brings it closer to Metal Gear V (like the directly borrowed silencer mechanic). Go to town with the trap bombs, it's a meat confetti party.

Story and dialogue are decent so far. Won't really be able to judge that until the end. I might see a slight Life is Strange influence with the non-combat adventure game parts.

The guitar playing mechanics are fantastic. You can strum up, down, partially, drill it, or tap to pick individual strings. The detuned musty old acoustics sound authentic to my ears.
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#5
"If I ever were to lose you.."

I'm 10 hours in and, so far, I'm having a hell of a time with this game. Apparently there's still a reveal that seems to be the reasonswhy there's a split in the discourse, but unless the game completely, and utterly drops the ball, I don't see myself turning on the game. Whereas I never really cared about the gameplay of the original TLOU, I'm enjoying my time with Ellie.

Part of that is that the gameplay has been refined that it actually feels good to sneak and take down enemies, whereas it felt so clumsy in the original game. But also, the game does a really good job to use gameplay mechanics and dialogue for character and world building. And the slow pace of the game really encourages exploration. It feels good wandering in corridors and searching for weapons and parts, all while getting to know Ellie and Dina.
"There's only one question to resolve. I'm scared. I feel a little crazy. I'm not lucid. The assumptions are right. I can feel my fear growing. Now is the time for the answer. Just one question. One question to answer.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
[i]WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?






[/i]


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#6
Consider yourself lucky for not getting spoiled! Should probably avoid Youtube til you're done.

I just rolled the credits. Stayed with standard Hard mode all the way, except for turning on item sonar Enhanced Listening.

I have thoughts on the 2nd half, but might as well wait til more people here beat it.

Future Days is like the cheesiest Pearl Jam song ever on the album. Troy Baker saved it with this in-game version. Joel is still a major dork for picking that song though, haha. A lot of people in this game are dorks. I laughed when I read who plays Owen. Was I supposed to hate him as much as I did? When will the cycle of lame supporting characters end?
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#7
I finished The Last of Us, Part II  a couple weeks ago. Absolutely loved it. I found the storyline challenging, but mostly the "provocation" was in service of a good story. The set-pieces were especially stunning:

[HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILERS:]

The hospital sequence made Resident Evil look like Animal Crossing. And crossing the skybridges with Lev, then descending through the skyscraper, was absolutely jaw-dropping.

Furthermore (beware extreme spoilers):

Most of the game's critics and players seem to have a solid opinion on who's right and who's wrong in this game (and this series in general). I'm more in the middle. The game seems to cede a pretty steep moral high-ground to Abby and her crew, but because we don't know where they came from (we didn't get a thirty-hour "Part 1" to their story), I never felt as connected to them as I felt I was supposed to be, even as I recognized the validity of their motives. I think almost every character had aspects that were lovable and also sickeningly righteous (Mel's complacent endorsement of torture was especially jarring). It's fascinating seeing how many people have very unambiguous (and mostly utilitarian!) ideas about who's right and wrong in this series. Watching such diverse opinions and philosophical debates about the story outside of the game is as interesting as the game itself...maybe more so.

Also (ludonarrative dissonance warning!):

I don't understand why people felt that Naughty Dog was trying to make them feel "guilty" in this game. I'm not playing as myself. I'm playing as a flawed character whose broad decisions I cannot (and am not supposed to) second-guess. Their actions are their actions. The game isn't judging me. It's judging its characters, and not even as harshly as the players are. We're just pressing the buttons to play out the minor events of a story whose broad strokes are predetermined.

And yes, the accessibility options are awesome in this game. They're SO well done. When you have time, look up the videos of a blind man playing this game using the game's built-in echolocation. It's a revelation. I hope this becomes a new standard for first-party titles. Not just for those who have issues with motor-control or eyesight or hearing, but people like me who suck at difficult video games and need a little help sometimes.

Probably the most visually beautiful game I've ever played. The art direction, the detail in the worlds, the lighting, the textures, the sound-design, the atmosphere...it's all on a whole new level, especially in 4K on the Pro. I wish I could share it with more non-video game people, but unfortunately the violence is a solid (and understandable) barrier to entry for many.
"These guys are pros, Michael. They're gonna push the tension 'till the last possible moment before they strip."

 
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#8
The online reaction to this game by the typical band of incels is just insufferable.

If the gender of the characters were all reversed it would have been praised as game of the year, just like the original because (shocking) it had a male protagonist. The video game subculture sucks.

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#9
Took a looooooooooooooooong time, but wrapped this up yesterday.  So.  Much.  To.  Unpack. 

Collection of random thoughts:

--Alternate name for this game -- The Last of Us 2: What if all the Random Bad Guys you Encounter in a Video Game Had Feelings??

--If you want to skip the details, I'll summarize like this:  it's a powerful and memorable game, it has some incredible scenes and set pieces, there is great voice acting and an intelligent, thoughtful script, yet despite all its impressive accomplishments it's generally not fun to play and in many respects the structure of the game is shockingly poorly conceived.  TLOU2 clearly wants to play out as a grand, media/genre-expanding epic morality play, but the motivations of the characters really don't hold up to a cursory level of scrutiny, people do nonsensical things constantly, and the lack of player agency is a bit perplexing. 

--There are some fantastic levels in this game.  The hospital section?  JFC, what a tour de force.  TLOU doesn't really do "bosses," so that kind of came out of nowhere for me.  Scary as fuck, yo.  And the chapter with Abby and Lev riding through the burning village, only for Abby to have an absolutely brutal (and gory) fight on the docks?  Amazing.  I feel like there was an incredible 15-18 hour game hidden in this 25-30 hour overlong, often-dreary slog.  

--Come to think of it, it seems like Abby had basically every major set piece in this game.  The sheer fucking drudgery of much of Ellie's campaign was a bit hard to stomach.  The subway section was fairly well done, but still ... lot of crawling and dark narrow areas where the player really has no agency in how to approach the combat. 

--Neil Druckmann, designer of TLOU2, clearly has some statements he wants make on "The Corrosive Effect of the Nature of Revenge" and "The Cycle of Violence and You: How to Stop It."  I suppose to a certain extent, a grim, drawn out tale makes some sense.  But this game is too fucking long.  I'm sorry, but it's a fucking chore.  This is one of the worst paced games I have ever played, and almost certainly the worst paced I have ever finished.  Druckmann has had cohorts on every prior game, he needed someone to tell him "no" on some of the more radical game design ideas in TLOU2.  There are so many fucking flashbacks, there is an absolutely insane perspective shift to Abby at roughly the halfway point of the game (when it feels like we've reached the conclusion of the story) where we proceed to flash backwards, repeatedly, to Abby as a child, Abby in Seattle for three days ... what the hell?  Who thought this was a good idea?  It would have made FAR more sense to rotate between the characters in some manner, and trim the fucking fat from the game while you're at.  There is no need for these repeated extensive "crawls" through half of Seattle.  We fucking got it.  When the game would flash to a cutscene and you would "warp" to somewhere else I would basically breathe a sigh of relief that whatever miserable corner of Seattle I'm currently stuck in, I get to leave. 

--Who chose the setting of Seattle for this game?  Seriously?  Wyoming is gorgeous, Santa Barbara is gorgeous, Seattle, once the insane graphics lose their luster, is grim and miserable.  And you're there for what feels like 25 hours of gameplay. The level layouts are the worst in a Naughty Dog game since Uncharted Prime.  There is, like, one well-done action sequence in Seattle (the TV station) where there is sufficient multi-level AND circular maneuverability.  The rest?  Way too many narrow corridors, way too little freedom to try to approach combat creatively.  Unending city streets, unending crawling, unending harvesting of supplies (made super irritating by the inability to stockpile), I actually reduced the difficult to moderate after maybe 8-10 hours cause my enthusiasm to play through this fucking tedium was getting pretty thin. 

--I am REALLY surprised by how much online discussion I've read (including in the CHUDmultiverse on discord) saying "Joel had it coming" or "Joel was a monster" specifically in regard to the rescue of Ellie at the end of TLOU Prime.  I mean, he may have "had it coming" for a variety of transgressions, but for rescuing Ellie?  Nah. 

Look, the situation involving the Fireflies and Ellie represents a complex moral knot.  That's what makes for good stories.  You have a young child in peril, you throw in a bunch of apocalyptic scenarios, you layer on some guilt and unresolved trauma, and you've got yourself a stew.  But ... at the end of the day, I think maybe we should be clear about something, cause some of the online conversations on this topic are a little unsettling to read:  for human society to mean anything, for it to be worth saving in the first place, there have to be SOME THINGS THAT ARE NOT OKAY.  Those letters should be in all-caps and blinking with colored lights.

And one of the things that should not be okay is murdering 13 year old girls so you can harvest their neurological tissue for a possible cure (never mind distribution/manufacturing problems, etc.).  That doctor deliberated for what, all of maybe twelve hours?  Discussed it with a handful of people? Consulted no other doctors and did not appear to read a single medical book on the topic? He obtained no informed consent, but even if he had, a child can't agree to sacrifice their life like that.  I'm not sure where the "age of informed consent" is on the topic of suicide for medical research, but I do know that 13 years of age ain't it. 

This entire scenario really isn't nearly as grey as some people seem to think.  When a society, an organization, a civilization, etc., decide it's morally justifiable to murder children "for the greater good" that society can just go ahead and cease existing.  There's a reason why the phrase "for the greater good" in popular culture is used as a cliched expression used by evil people when they want to justify the evil things they're doing.  

--This kind ends on such an anticlimactic, flat note.  I guarantee you that this was not the original ending for the game, I GUARANTEE it.  I strongly believe that originally Ellie was going to kill Abby.  Which, frankly, would be far more in character for Ellie and would make the grim, hopeless feeling of the finale resonate more strongly.  After having had a chance to know Abby and the complexities of her life, Ellie killing her anyway would have been incredibly impactful.  

--On a sidenote, Abby had no further place in the story after she confronts Ellie in the theater, it was a mistake for us to play as her (albeit briefly) after that sequence.  This is a continuous problem with this game, over and over again we get scenes we don't need, or we get them at the wrong time, or we're flashing all over the place and any momentum or pacing is completely lost.  Why the hell did we see that scene with Abby and the radio?  It would have been so much more impactful for Ellie to just show up to Santa Barbara, we don't know what's going on, and she uncovers the house of horror slave farm.  Sometimes less is more.

--In regards to "less is more," I guarantee you, we fucking got it that all of Abby's friends were the people we ruthlessly killed earlier.  I don't need to play fetch with the dog, I don't need to backtrack all over Seattle so we can meet them one by one, it was just too much.  Streamline that shit or, I don't know, maybe have fewer locations.  A lot fewer.  Abby's Day One in Seattle, I'm pretty sure, is 49,000 hours long.  All these people are going to die, make your point that They Have Feelings, Too and let's get on with it.  

--If Ellie is going to not kill Abby, and that was a legitimate creative choice, there needed to be more to that scene.  There had to be!  Abby has been set up in the quasi-Joel role, with Lev as the putative Ellie (by the way, the story of Lev and Lev's sister seemed like it might have made for a pretty interesting game all on its own).  What I would have liked to have seen is Ellie just tell Abby flat out, "Your father was going to murder me.  He had no right.  I might have made that choice, but I was a kid, and he wasn't even going to let me say goodbye to the only person in my life who loved me.  And that was wrong, and he should have known it."  And maybe then Abby says, "you're right," and they still hate each other, but we have a moment of catharsis where we see that Ellie has learned something, and so has Abby.  But that doesn't happen, Abby just takes off, probably confused as to what the fuck Ellie was doing, and Ellie just mopes on home, sans two fingers and her spouse and daughter.  What a miserably depressing finale.  I will say I was completely fucking shocked when Tommy turned out to be alive.  Didn't see that one coming!

--I honestly, really worry that Druckmann and other people who worked on the TLOU2 universe believe that the Firefly Mengele Squad was in the right and Joel was in the wrong ... or even that there is no "right or wrong' in that scenario.  Holy fuck, you don't get to chop up kids cause you think you can make medicine from their body parts.  Since I never bought into the notion that Joel did anything wrong in rescuing Ellie (even if he did it for the wrong reasons, or partially for the wrong reasons) from the get-go the morality play of this game kind of falls flat.  Sure, all these folks have some good and some bad in them, but the murder of Joel is what the main story hinges on, and I don't accept that Abby and her gang were justified in that act.  So the game has a problem with me in that this tension, despite the super long running time of the game, never gets resolved and none of the characters ever even revisit the topic of whether "Joel had it coming."

--The motivations of the characters in this game ... hoo boy ... what the fuck?  Abby comes across as a deranged loon.  Was she just using the Wolf clan so she could get information?  Cause at the drop of a hat, for some kids she had just met, she suddenly starts murdering all her closest friends?  What the hell?  I thought it was stretching credibility that she'd go through the hospital house of horrors for them, but she's going to kill her compatriots?  People she's known for years?  Bull fucking shit (or she's insane).  Sure, Lev and Yara, cut her down, but there is nothing in the game that tells me Abby has a sentimental streak.  It would have been more in character for Abby to just kill Lev and Yara immediately.  After all, they're Scars, her enemy, and why would she care if they saved her life?  Abby didn't care when Joel saved her life in Wyoming.  Heck, you'd at least have thought that might have earned him a quick, clean death, instead of slow torture.  Why the hell is Abby jumping through hoops for these people?  The game really does a very unsatisfying job at explaining this.  

Same problem with Ellie.  At the end of the game, we see a scene where she and Joel reconnected, despite the entire game leading us to believe that a huge part of Ellie's motivation was that she was robbed of her chance to mend fences with the only father-figure in her life.  What.  The.  Hell.  Okay, so with that gone, Ellie dragged her friends halfway across the U.S., has gone on two near-suicide missions after Abby, and all this time she and Joel had been on decent terms before the end?  Wait a minute, if Ellie actually believed that "Joel had it coming," and the game had been misdirecting us the entire time about them being on bad terms, than what the hell was up with all the confrontation-flashbacks between Joel and Ellie?  That was a red herring the entire time?  Confusingly unsatisfying.

--This story would have worked infinitely better as a novel, movie, or mini-series.  Infinitely.  There are some things you just can't get away with in a game that you can get away with in other mediums.  Umpteen flashbacks, perspective changes, the audience is a lot less receptive in a video game because it's simply a different medium.  It breaks immersion and grinds everything to a halt.  You have to refocus and mentally "re-groove" with a whole new character.  In general, I've never seen a game that so readily kills momentum and/or immersion with so many poorly thought out jumps in perspective and/or time.  The only one that comes to mind as a comparison is the Gears of War prequel game (told via four or five flashbacks).  I love the Gears of War series.  LOVE IT.  Couldn't finish that game. 

--I don't care about the "trans" storyline in the game, but I care that it feels boring and needless. As do many of the sideplots in this game. There is just so much goddamned padding. Owen and Mel's struggles? Cleaning out the hospital of supplies? The unending shit about Isaac and his invasion of the island? Prune this stuff down or condense it. The random notes were often more engaging than the living side characters.

--When we play as Joel in the beginning, I assumed that my suspicions were incorrect and that he wasn't going to die.  Maybe get horribly injured, but not die.  I was therefore legitimately surprised when he did.  Why was I surprised?  Because there's kind of an implicit law in video games the narrative characters you control don't die -- or, at least they don't have to die (Games like Mass Effect 2 leave it up to the player's skill).  I can only think of four or five games in which a character you control dies as part of the required narrative of the game.  And they're all shocking moments.  But, none nearly as shocking as Joel's death.  If they were going to kill off Joel, they should never have had you play him in the beginning.  Particularly since you can do nothing (except stop playing) to prevent his demise.  It just broke my immersion and me think about how contrived and manipulative the opening scenes were.

--Here's another implicit Commandment of video games (as opposed to other mediums) that this game breaks:  "Thou Shall Not Sell a Game in Which you Are Dishonest about the Gameplay."  This problem has bitten remarkably few games (Metal Gear Solid II, Brutal Legend) over the years, but when it does happen, it REALLY pisses off gamers.  As maybe it should.  Make whatever kind of product you want, but if people feel that they spent their hard-earned money and time on X, but you really were selling them Y, they kind of have a right to be irritated, no? I can tell you that halfway through Abby's Day One slog, I actually went online to see how much longer this was going to go on for.  Even though I feel like Abby's campaign was much more fun, I could see it would annoy people that 50-60% of the game is with a protagonist other than who they thought they were paying for.

--It's noteworthy that each and every part of Ellie's campaign that I remember fondly either involved Joel or involved Abby.  The museum and hospital flashback?  Amazing.  Kind of wish the game had just started with those, maybe see the relationship fall apart over the first hour.  Abby confronting Ellie (and vice versa)?  Great scenes.  It really irritates me how many hours of bloated, tedious padding obscure what could have been a better paced, awesome game.

--Ellie is not Batman.  Some semblance of reality to her fight scenes might have been nice ....

--Okay, they maybe turned the pitiable-ness generator up a bit too high on Abby at the end of there. She looks gaunt, she's missing a bunch of teeth, no hair, and she's stooping and crouching like Gollum. Was a bit much.

--You can't tell me it wasn't intentional that Ellie, classically feminine and attractive, is gay while Abby, whose arm and shoulder musculature isn't possible for 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999% of women ever born without chemical enhancement (regardless of how much they work) is straight ... and in a somewhat unexpectedly graphic scene, gets the business from Owen.  Ho ho ho, I see you over there playing with stereotypes, Naughty Dog.  

--In closing, certainly a memorable game.  Probably 15ish hours of it I really liked, but unfortunately it's a 27-30 hour slog.  The game that I believe Druckmann is drawing inspiration from, and probably wants to eclipse, is Spec Ops: The Line.  Much of what TLOU2 seems to want to accomplish in regards to philosophical ruminations on the morality of vengeance, commenting on the shallowness of the "Us vs. Them" paradigm you find in most video games, playing around with flashbacks and perspective, Spec Ops did it as well if not better (and in a third of the runtime).  After Abby starting knifing her own friends, I almost expected "You are still a good person" to flash across the screen. 

There are some sections of this game I'd like to replay over and over, but I can't imagine ever wanting to replay it in its entirety.  It's grim, it's tedious, it's overly sloggy and the pacing is fucking atrocious.  It's also beautifully written and acted, with tons of memorable sequences and dialogue.

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#10
Its funny how the game tries so hard to tell a moving story about wrongful acts, then makes plundering and brutally backstabbing / throat slitting / biceps choking more than a hundred innocent guards the most fun aspect of it. Just kidding, there are many great set pieces.
Editorials for CHUD: Mad Max Feminism Road / Why Jurassic World deserves interest / Should she direct Black Panther?
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#11
(08-19-2020, 01:04 PM)catartik Wrote: The online reaction to this game by the typical band of incels is just insufferable.

If the gender of the characters were all reversed it would have been praised as game of the year, just like the original because (shocking) it had a male protagonist.  The video game subculture sucks.

I disagree that a reversal of genders would fix what's wrong with this game, but I definitely agree that basically all forms of mainstream media are infested with toxic subgroups.

Maybe the best answer is to not acknowledge them?

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#12
[Image: cw1fbwqk2a751.jpg]

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#13
Ovie. You get the game is entirely aware of that hypocrisy right?
"There's only one question to resolve. I'm scared. I feel a little crazy. I'm not lucid. The assumptions are right. I can feel my fear growing. Now is the time for the answer. Just one question. One question to answer.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
[i]WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?






[/i]


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#14
(09-10-2020, 01:29 PM)ska oreo Wrote: Ovie.  You get the game is entirely aware of that hypocrisy right?

It's a humorous meme image.

Don't read too much into it.

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