So at PSX 2016 just last week, Publishers Sony Computer Entertainment, as well as developers Naughty Dog announced part two of their critically acclaimed game in which millions of people hold dear to their hearts. The Last Of Us was released in 2013, and captured the minds and hearts of so many people; through a harrowing, emotionally captivating storyline, which followed the lives of two very special characters, Ellie and Joel. Through post-apocalyptic America in 2033 we followed them on their emotional journey of love, hate, friendship and despair. The one of a kind storyline was infused with gritty, and well polished game mechanics such as the ability to scavenge parts to upgrade weapons, and intense third-person combat, as well as a beautiful soundtrack composed by Gustavo Santaolalla which fits like a glove into the world of the Last Of Us. Colin Moriarty, a former writer for IGN; and the man who reviewed The original game, said the following.
“It’s PlayStation 3’s best exclusive, and the entire experience, from start to finish, is remarkable.” The Last Of Us went on to score a perfect 10 from IGN and received outstanding reviews from other video game outlets also.
After being given a peek into the world of The Last Of Us Part II, in the form of a trailer, and discussion interview in which Ashley Johnson (voice actor for Ellie), Troy Baker (voice actor for Joel) And Neil Druckmann ( writer of Last Of Us Part II), I wanted to talk about some very interesting things that we learned during the trailer, and interview.
To kick it all off; the thing that stood out the most to me, was the games title. The new Last Of Us game is not a direct sequel, but instead an extension onto the tale of the first game. I felt this was an interesting and credible move by Naughty Dog, due to the fact that not all that many developers title their game “Part II”. Instead a direct sequel is usually the path taken. Of course, since the original games release and exceptional reception, fans have been skeptical as to whether a second game would be released. It was thought by so many people that The Last Of Us was perhaps too good for a sequel. There has always been a notion that the original game could not be beaten, and would be tarnished by a follow-up. Talk of The Last Of Us 2 occurred all the time, and through all the speculation I do not believe that many people expected this title. It was a clever move by Naughty Dog, as I feel that they have taken away some of the stigma behind a sequel, by essentially extending the already released game, instead of having something completely new. This ideology that I am talking about works both ways though however, just let me explain. For those who were all for a sequel or a second game, ever since the original, and they wanted to see a similar game with the same characters, then this idea of titling the new release “Part II” gives those fans the notion that the game will indeed be similar. It won’t stray far from the path of what they were given in 2013, as it is an extension rather than a whole new thing, or sequel, and this has been proven already slightly, because of the fact that adored characters Ellie and Joel are returning.
Ellie And Joel returning is fantastic news in my eyes. I have only played the Last Of Us once, back in 2013 and I can still safely say after the many master-class games that I’ve played since then, that Ellie and Joel still stick in my mind as not just characters, but people. People that I actually care about. I shed tears during their original adventure multiple times and I felt a genuine attachment to them. This is not something that I feel easily with video game characters. I feel as if I have missed the two survivors, and I want to be able to live in their world again, so I essentially can see how they’re coping. I want to empathize with them. This leads me onto touch on some news surrounding Ellie and Joel’s return. Firstly, and something that I am very excited about, is the news that in The Last Of Us Part II, we actually play as Ellie primarily. This contrasts to the first game, as we played the majority of the game as father figure Joel, with hints of gameplay featuring a controllable Ellie. Furthermore, it’s great to hear that Ashley Johnson is once again voicing Ellie, as is Troy Baker voicing Joel. The two actors hold such an incredible talent. A talent that to me, takes on the form of an elixir. One that helps to immerse you into Naughty Dog’s vision of post apocalyptic America. The tension and raw emotion can literally be felt with these actors, and this is something that seriously boosts the quality of The Last Of Us. So the voice actors are the same, the characters are the same. Has anything changed? Well, Joel was already a middle aged man in the original game, so physically, he’s still his usual grizzly self it seems. However Ellie was thirteen in the first game, and now, six years down the line, she is of course nineteen. The pair of course share the same age gap between the first game and the second, however it is of far more significance for Ellie. In six years, she has gone from an early, curious adolescent, who was still discovering things such as her sexual orientation, to a grown woman. A woman who seems to have a new outlook on the world. An outlook of vengeance. A woman who will probably have new goals, beliefs and potentially a whole new personality. The same goes our grizzled lovable dad. While physically he won’t have changed as much as Ellie, emotionally and mentally perhaps he has, The pairs brutal experiences over the last six years have probably changed them forever. Many questions have arisen for me after learning about this game. Has Joel been further broken by the new world that he traverses? Does the death of his daughter still haunt him? Is he still as strong as he once was? These questions link back to the empathy that I said I feel for these characters earlier on. I don’t just want to know how they’re doing, but I want to help them on their journey. I want to ensure their survival.
Naughty Dog have crafted multiple master-class games over the years. The Last Of Us is of course included, however more recently we’ve seen releases such as Uncharted 4 which showed off the true capabilities of the PlayStation 4. Graphically mesmerizing, with constantly smooth gameplay, and a gripping story which makes you want to keep playing forever; The Last Of Us Part II will only build off of releases such as this. During the PSX discussion, writer Neil Druckmann mentioned that the Last Of Us Part II will feature some evolution from the first game in terms of mechanics, but also inventions, and this leads me to feel a great feeling of exhilaration. No information was given on these new mechanics, however it of course still early days, and it gives us the fans the opportunity to ponder, speculate and discuss as a community even more topics surrounding this up and coming game. No release date or even window has been given for this project as of yet, however I wouldn’t hold your breath on a 2017 release date. 2018 or maybe even 2019 are the release years that I would place my bets on. Guessing only the release year correctly probably doesn’t land you a whole lot of cash though I imagine.
To summarize, I am so excited for The Last Of Us Part II. I’m more than ready to see how our favourite duo Joel and Ellie have been doing, what’s changed in the post apocalyptic land of the free, and I’m just generally excited and ready for Naughty Dog to wow us yet again with another gripping story.