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“SPOILER THREAD” - The Last Of Us Part 2


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When I finished the game I immediately went into playthrough 2 which I am now at the end of, then I come in here reading all these too long comments. Are we playing different games? It wasn't long enough!!

 

Also, the search for fuel in Seattle day 1 is one of my favourite bits. Calm before the storm. Riding around with your woman, just doing sidequests and chatting.

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2 minutes ago, Opinionated Ham Scarecrow said:

When I finished the game I immediately went into playthrough 2 which I am now at the end of, then I come in here reading all these too long comments. Are we playing different games? It wasn't long enough!!

 

Could be a free time thing. If I was younger and wasn't tired from work most weekdays the length wouldn't bother me, but at the moment I have too many games that need finishing and television to watch.

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8 hours ago, Alan Stock said:

 

I had quickly forgotten about that scene, but I saw a good take in a Youtube review saying that this implies since Abby's helped the kids she's been able to move on past her father's death - she can now remember how he was, rather than just obsess about his death - the kids have reawoken her humanity as it were. And then contrast that to Ellie who gets PTSD flashbacks and can't move on because revenge is how she's dealing with her inability to reconcile with Joel and her inability to save him. 

 

The flashbacks and PTSD episodes back at the farm were so important for understanding Ellie's motivation, I think I'd have preferred more of that prior to her mission to Seattle. It reminded me a lot of Aliens, and how James Cameron said they needed a really cast-iron reason for why Ripley would return to LV462 so that the audience can get behind her. The PTSD she experiences while trying to return to a normal life justifies her decision immediately. Although she physically survived, she's mentally still there, and tries to fix herself by going back.

 

Just speaking personally, but for me to be aligned with Ellie's mission in the first half of the game, I would've preferred:

  • knowing nothing about Abby until the mid-game switcheroo
  • an Aliens-style scene that makes it clear that Ellie can't get on with her life until she faces Joel's killer.
  • the focus of the mission to Seattle being purely to get Tommy back, with revenge being more of an ulterior motive that Ellie keeps hidden from Dina etc. I felt everyone was being idiots at the start, and didn't believe that an idyllic settlement like Jackson could survive with the leader tacitly supporting tit-for-tat incursions into hostile territory.

Again, I think this is even more important in a game than it is in passive media.

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48 minutes ago, Opinionated Ham Scarecrow said:

When I finished the game I immediately went into playthrough 2 which I am now at the end of, then I come in here reading all these too long comments. Are we playing different games? It wasn't long enough!!

 

This.

 

I reckon I could get a third round in before Ghost of Tsushima unlocks next Friday too.

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This was wonderful. I really did not think they would come close to the quality of the first game, but they knocked it out of the park. Not flawless, certainly, but still comfortably one of the best games I have ever played.

 

The big issue for me now if that whatever I decide to play next is inevitably going to seem lacking!

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Great breakdown @pinholestar and wholeheartedly agree with it all , especially around the initial feelings on the switch to Abby. As I said before the real gut punch for me on that 'return to the Aquarium' with Abby was seeing Alice. When dogs were first mentioned as a feature I was very sceptical as to the justification for having you butcher them. Even moreso when it was confirmed that doing so would be accompanied by a human crying out as they see what has happened :( that just felt like a step too far in terms of gameplay 'mechanics'... but as I returned to the Aquarium and found Alice it hit me like a fucking sledgehammer... it was never about the gameplay.

 

Yes, the implementation of the dogs as an enemy is a clever addition and brings a wonderful new angle to the combat but that perspective on these beautiful animals, from Alice saving Abby's life on several occasions to you as the player then helping Yara get close to Alice playing with her toy, its subtle but its absolute genius when measured against the disregard and brutality Ellie has toward Alice.... "stupid dog" :( That moment where I realised that the 'stupid dog' that I had so quickly killed hours before as Ellie was the same beautiful dog that I had grown really attached through Abby's story was just fucking :unsure:

 

And the porch scene :wub: you talked about the writing, the facial animation, the performances of the actors themselves, well this scene for me is the culmination of everything Naughty Dog have worked so hard on since the first game. That the relationship between two characters in a game can be so complex but at the same time so simple that it leaves (invested) players haunted and emotionally rattled through a single conversation is nothing short of witchcraft. Joel tells Ellie "If somehow the Lord gave me a second chance at that moment, I would do it all over again" and like Joel Naughty Dog should have absolutely no regrets about anything they have done here.

 

 

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13 hours ago, footle said:


it’s not the “extreme violence”. It’s the pornographic close ups of the violence. That’s a directorial choice, even though there’s no real textual justification that Ellie or Abby particularly likes killing rather than any other activity. The “justification” is pretty poor: do you actually really need fifteen hundred different animations of one of them dying in some gruesome way or minor variations of strangling/stabbing folk to death? Clearly not.


What a weird argument. Do you actually need 150 takes of tormenting the actors to “get” a scene? You clearly don’t. Do you actually need 150 different stores to make an open world convincing? Do you actually need the warm blood melting the snow? You clearly don’t. But some game directors do it anyways, as some movie directors do as well. It’s their art and vision and world building, so they know better than us what they want to achieve. If you don’t like it fine but for me every little detail is needed to bring the world to life.

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9 hours ago, Alan Stock said:

 

I had quickly forgotten about that scene, but I saw a good take in a Youtube review saying that this implies since Abby's helped the kids she's been able to move on past her father's death - she can now remember how he was, rather than just obsess about his death - the kids have reawoken her humanity as it were. And then contrast that to Ellie who gets PTSD flashbacks and can't move on because revenge is how she's dealing with her inability to reconcile with Joel and her inability to save him. 

 

It also mirrors perfectly with the flashes Ellie sees of Joel. Right up until that final moment with her hands around Abby's neck her only image flashing of Joel is what she seen right before he was killed. Then... just as she is about to take Abby's life, Joel sitting on the porch the night before he died, where she opened herself up to forgiving him is what flashes in her mind and ultimately saves both her and Abby :wub: 

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59 minutes ago, Talk Show Host said:


What a weird argument. Do you actually need 150 takes of tormenting the actors to “get” a scene? You clearly don’t. Do you actually need 150 different stores to make an open world convincing? Do you actually need the warm blood melting the snow? You clearly don’t. But some game directors do it anyways, as some movie directors do as well. It’s their art and vision and world building, so they know better than us what they want to achieve. If you don’t like it fine but for me every little detail is needed to bring the world to life.

It's not a weird argument at all. I mean, this is an incredibly violent game and a huge amount of lavish resource has been spent on realising extremely violent actions, abuse, torture and death. It's not surprising that some people have found that questionable, especially in the wider context of the themes the game explores. Saying 'it's their art' basically renders any discussion of it moot. And it doesn't hold up. Lots of art is intended to be something specific but fails to meet the creators' goals or hits consumers in very different ways. The point here is that they chose to render violence in extremely graphic ways and that indisputably hasn't worked for quite a lot of people.

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Sometimes the kind of story you want to tell requires realistic violence. I remember when Saving Private Ryan came out you had Veterans who said they were glad it did not show restraint to the true horrors of war, when the war movies of the 50's and 60's made it look like a bit of a laugh, a jolly boys outing by comparison.

 

7 minutes ago, Hewson said:

The point here is that they chose to render violence in extremely graphic ways and that indisputably hasn't worked for quite a lot of people.

 

The fastest-selling first-party PS4 exclusive ever with more than 4 million copies sold through as of June 21 so not really. Not every game has to be for everyone. The original is an extremely brutal game full of exploding heads , burning corpses and torture scenes.

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1 hour ago, MardiganX said:

Joel tells Ellie "If somehow the Lord gave me a second chance at that moment, I would do it all over again" and like Joel Naughty Dog should have absolutely no regrets about anything they have done here.


Druckmann tweeted this after all the death threats and racist shit he got. Good to see him sticking to his guns.

As for the violence, I agree with what my countryman Paul Verhoeven once said on that. If people do violent things in a violent world, you should show the consequences of said violence. Otherwise you're a hyprocite. 

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11 hours ago, pinholestar said:

I finished this at 3am last night and after spending the whole day ruminating on it there's not a doubt in my mind that it's the best videogame I've ever played. It's maybe not surprising considering that I rated the first game as in my top 2 or 3 of all time (and certainly featured my favourite story and characterisation in videogames) but I did have reservations about whether Naughty Dog would be able to provide a suitably compelling narrative justification for a sequel and whether they'd be able to reach the same heights. I needn't have worried. It's an absolutely jaw-dropping work that for me can be placed alongside the very best examples of their kind in any medium. It represents the absolute pinnacle of what videogames can currently achieve and serves as a landmark for other developers to strive towards in several significant ways.

 

I went into it as blind as possible having only watched the initial trailer some years ago and thankfully having managed to avoid all spoilers, discussion and reviews until I sat down to play it. Watching the page count tick up on the threads on here it was tempting to have a look and see what the general consensus was but I held firm and experienced it from start to finish with an entirely unbiased and uninfluenced view.

 

And fuck me am I glad I did because I had absolutely no idea that Joel was going to get his skull caved in with a 9-iron within a couple of hours of starting the game. I really struggle to think of a more shocking moment that I've experienced watching something than that scene. It was such a devastatingly unceremonious and brutal end and it left me audibly gasping. I had a vague notion from a few headlines I'd seen on gaming sites over the last few years that the theme of the game was revenge, so in the back of my mind I figured that someone was going to cop it to provide a narrative justification. The obvious candidate would be Joel but I thought that would be a bit too obvious and it was likely to be Ellie's partner or something along those lines, especially with the deflection of Joel appearing in that first trailer.

 

Turns out it was the obvious option but the slow burn and unsettling sense of impending dread that was so delicately built up in the opening stretch of the game made it hit that much harder. You could feel that something grim was going to happen and that you were being manipulated into its shocking impact by the awkward interactions riddled with subtext between the characters at the start but it was just the first sense I got that this game was going to be something truly extraordinary.

 

I won't go over all the narrative beats here but the overarching point is that in terms of writing and in particular the dialogue between characters this game shows that Naughty Dog's writers under Druckmann's direction are streets ahead of everyone else out there. It's a combination of outstanding performances by the actors (in particular Ashley Johnson who was phenomenal), beautifully judged and understated dialogue and truly exceptional facial animation. The line has not only been blurred but completely eradicated for me now in terms of the subtle underlying disconnect between watching actual people and digital renditions of human characters. And it lends those scenes an authenticity and emotional impact that has never been done to this quality before. Death Stranding and Red Dead 2 are comparable (and I adore both those games and after LoU2 place them as my favourites of this generation) but the difference is that the writing and dialogue here is a significant step up and there's a finesse to the direction that holds those lingering pauses and tiny almost imperceptible facial movements that vault across the uncanny valley. It's an exceptional technical feat that serves the ultimate purpose of rooting the story and its characters in an entirely believable world and in the achingly bittersweet flashback scene in the museum where Joel sends Ellie into space it moved me to literal tears, which a game has never managed before.

 

With regards to Abby I thought that the way she was introduced as this truly and utterly hateful monster that you wouldn't hesitate to mete out brutal justice to in the blink of an eye was brilliantly done. Joel's death was hideous in its sickeningly blunt abruptness and I mean I fucking hated Abby with every fibre of my being just as Ellie did in that moment and setting out to seek revenge, although always an inherently foolish pursuit, seemed like an entirely justifiable course of action. At this point I knew it wasn't going to be as simple as just working my way through the game until a final confrontation with her and then plunging one final knife into her throat. There were clearly going to be twists and turns along the way but I never could have imagined that they would flip the whole thing round and subvert my expectations to such a degree.

 

When you first took control of Abby I thought that it would be a relatively short interlude that would give you another angle from the perspective of the 'enemy' to indicate that the binary line between good and evil in a morally murky world was not so clearly delineated after all and that would essentially be it. A conveniently pat narrative device that would blur the lines of justification for Ellie's brutal desire for revenge. Joel killed Abby's father, so she killed Joel. Violence begets violence and the cycle continues until everyone ends up dead. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Fine, we've been here before and I can see what you're doing Naughty Dog. No worries, I'm along for the ride.

 

The penny dropped though when 'Seattle Day 1' came up and I realised that she too had a skill upgrade path and this was going to be a significant passage of the game. At this point I almost felt a little cheated and as if I was being a little too obviously manipulated. I resisted it and almost rolled my eyes at the obvious attempt that was about to be made to humanise a monster. A part of me was just waiting for a sequence of contrived events that would singularly fail to sway my fundamental allegiances and sympathies.

 

But fuck me they actually pulled it off didn't they. With a combination of a quite brilliant acting performance by Laura Bailey, a slowly growing cast of increasingly sympathetic companions and in particular a masterful building towards a thunderous and literally flaming crescendo via a vertiginous climb towards environmental terror, a harrowing descent into full-on survival horror and creeping among the rain-sodden cornfields, without realising it I ended up in exactly the place that Naughty Dog had precisely engineered me to be. I sympathised with Abby and the pain and trials that she had faced and by her journey's end as she faced up to the prospect of her own semblance of flawed redemption she stood shoulder to shoulder with Ellie in terms of how engaged I was in her story.

 

A different side of the same coin no doubt but realising that that fucking bastard sniper was Tommy all along, that you knew what savage horror dealt by Ellie to your loved ones awaited you back at the aquarium and that once the (seemingly) final confrontation came you would have to fight Ellie herself was a simply brilliant way to recast the story and the characters' motivations that led them to their place within it.

 

I didn't want to fight Ellie and it was a horrible feeling of hammering the button to assault her but on the other hand I had through the course of playing Abby's story come to see Ellie as something of a hideous monster too, flung down a path of violent retribution that had spun out of her control. The conflict was no longer one-sided and to create a sense of forcing you to do something that you didn't want to do and yet in another sense felt justified in doing so was masterful and, perhaps most importantly of all, could only have been done within the context of a videogame in which you are an, albeit reluctant, willing and active participant. 

 

The ending for me was pitch perfect. Had it ended all happy families at the farmhouse then I probably would have felt satisfied but once again Naughty Dog provided something that I didn't realise I absolutely needed. Ellie's story wasn't complete because she still hadn't faced up to the fundamental conflict that lay at the heart of all of this: her need to let the memory of Joel's betrayal go. Killing Abby would finally close the circle (or so she thought) but in the final reckoning on the beach with her hands around the emaciated throat of the person she believed to be the root of all her anguish she realised that there was no release to be found in that final brutal act of vengeance. Thank God, because at that point I wanted nothing more than to put the controller down and refuse to be complicit in the utter futility of what she was doing. Only by literally letting go could she move on in a more figurative sense.

 

The scene right at the end where Ellie tells Joel that she can't ever truly forgive him for what he took from her but she'd like to at least start trying was the single heart of the entire story and the emotional crux around which it all eventually centred. It all tied together in that one single, strained moment. It was ultimately a story not of savagery and violent revenge but of tender forgiveness and the need to let go, lest the horrors of the past consume you forever more. I won't deny that that had a particular intensely personal resonance for me and that a videogame could do that with such power and poignancy shows just how far we've come. It's remarkable stuff and told with a skill and delicate touch within the context of an at times almost unbearably violent and horrific game that is unsurpassed. 

 

All of this narrative brilliance and subtlety of characterisation would in many ways count for naught if the playable game that surrounded it was lacklustre but as a pure stealth action and exploration videogame it's also exceptional. 

 

The term immersive crops up again and again these days when discussing games but it's not surprising when the fidelity and detail of the worlds that we get to play in now are so remarkably authentic. I expected first-in-class technical proficiency but Naughty Dog have completely outdone themselves here though and the environmental storytelling and artistry is simply off the charts. They're the most beautiful and detailed creations I've ever seen and I can't even begin to imagine the amount of time and effort it must have taken to build them all. I love exploration in games and got a massive kick out of hunting around every single bleakly sumptuous nook and cranny. That's not to mention the seamless and seemingly endlessly variable animations which set a new benchmark that looks down on its competitors from a dizzying height. The fact that they managed to do all this on seven year old hardware that is by now positively ancient is frankly mind-boggling. It's almost scary what they'll do with the PS5 by the time they're finished with it. A supreme level of technical talent.

 

As an action game I think it's absolutely superb with a fantastic core loop of incomparably meaty and visceral close combat and stealth mechanics all wrapped up in superlative level design. I played with everything on hard difficulty from the get-go and it was one of the best decisions I could have made as a game built around the concept of tension took on almost unbearable levels of nail-biting anxiety. Resources were always so scarce and those times when best-laid plans went awry and it all kicked off the frantic desperation of having to adapt on the fly led to innumerable moments when I would survive by the very skin of my teeth, with barely a bullet and sliver of health left. Every single encounter in the game from start to finish was just incredible with all of the various parts coming together to create the single most riveting and fraught set-pieces and confrontations I think I've ever had in a game. I ended up utilising every tool and environmental feature at my disposal and emergent and unscripted moments of savage and heart-pounding survival scrabbling among the ruined beauty happened time and time again. 

 

Particular highlights were the encounters in the lusciously overgrown leafy suburbs of the derelict houses of Hillcrest that became increasingly desperate as my resources were rapidly dwindling and I was being relentlessly hunted down by ever-increasing numbers of enemies culminating in the final frantic car chase, and the peak survival horror descent down through the bowels of the collapsed skyscraper infested with infected buried in the actual fucking walls and into the flooded hospital basement with its untold horrors awaiting. The first encounter with the hooded, bow-wielding primitivist Scars (sorry Lev, I meant Seraphites) and their chilling whistles in the nighttime park was also brilliant and for such a lengthy game I really loved the way it would regularly come up with new ideas or variations of enemies and environments right the way through. I didn't find it repetitive at all and on the hard difficulty each area played out like a giant puzzle of interlocking systems, routes and enemy behaviours that had to be navigated as best as I could manage with whatever I had to hand. I don't want to overuse the word tension but this game is the absolute embodiment of it and my controller has the imprint of my clenched fingers embedded into it forever more. 

 

The sound design deserves a special mention too. Gustavo Santaolalla's soundtrack hit those perfectly poignant notes just like it did in the first game but the portentous deep pulsing synths during the stealth sections ratcheted up the tension to almost unbearable levels and the richness of the soundscape from the rainfall to the echoing gunfire to the terrifying whistles of the Scars all add up to the best sound design I've heard in any game bar none. Up until now the original Dead Space was the king for me in this regard, but no longer. Late into the night with headphones on all the way for me and I've never been so immersed in a game before.

 

Like with everything else in the game the attention to detail in the sound is unsurpassed. I found a thread by one of the sound designers of the game where they described how they created the Scars' whistles and it's an entire language with 14 distinct phoneme groups that reflects all of the verbal callouts that the Wolves make, such as letting their comrades know that an ally is down, that they're searching a particular area, that they've spotted someone etc. A remarkable level of thought, care and detail that's gone into it.   

 

It would also be remiss not to acknowledge and applaud Naughty Dog for the huge strides they've made in terms of diversity and representation with this game. There's nothing remotely tokenistic about the portrayal of the characters' sexuality or gender identity and it shows the maturity of the writers that they simply wrote a story that happened to be predominantly about women and featured a diverse cast of characters some of whom are lesbian, bisexual and trans. It all serves the story and yet is never forced or used as a convenient hook to hang anything off that feels exploitative or cheap when lesser talents despite their best intentions would have fallen headfirst into this trap.

 

It doesn't really require spelling out to anyone who implicitly understands but it's quite clear that anyone having some sort of an issue with these aspects of the characters has some glaringly outdated and backward deficiencies with their world view. I'm glad it's held a mirror up to those people and exposed some of them for the unremitting assholes they are and bravo Naughty Dog for having the courage to face that kind of prejudice head-on in implementing with sensitivity and a deft narrative touch rounded human characters across the spectrum of sexual and gender identity in an enormous blockbuster mainstream entertainment product in a medium that evidently still has a serious problem with some vile and very vocal subsections of its fanbase. I hope it serves as a shining example for others to follow and have little doubt that it will be noted in years to come as a landmark in this regard. A small step in the grander picture maybe but ultimately it's things like this that help society's attitudes progress and we should be grateful that one of videogames' most highly visible and successful companies is very much taking the lead.

 

With all these rambling ruminations said, the first game felt complete and whole and its perfect ending left me feeling as if it didn't require a sequel. The tale of Joel and Ellie was complete and their relationship had weathered the storm and emerged the other side in a somewhat fractured but ultimately satisfying conclusion. For this reason I was a little wary when the sequel was announced and on hearing that it was a tale of revenge I had my doubts. Having played The Last of Us Part II however, I can now see that Ellie's story that followed absolutely needed to be told and I'm hugely grateful that I got to experience it.

 

A titanic achievement in videogames and exhibiting the very height of its artistry and craftsmanship it's a game that will linger long in the memory and somehow managed to far exceed all of my very lofty expectations. Those six nights sat up in the dark until the very early hours with headphones on are easily the most enjoyable and indescribably tense and riveting I've ever experienced with these occasionally glorious things we call games and it's likely going to be a very long time indeed until something comes along that can hope to measure up to it. Truly and utterly outstanding in every way.


This is an awesome post.

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16 minutes ago, Dirty Harry Potter said:

But it also has indisputably worked for quite a lot of people. That is art. Go figure.

 

Absolutely - I'm not arguing at any point that it hasn't. Just pointing out that saying it's 'weird' to question the violence when it's the focus of so much resource and lavish detail is a bit strange. It's obviously a legitimate point of view - just as it is to have personally no issue with it.

 

12 minutes ago, Down by Law said:

Sometimes the kind of story you want to tell requires realistic violence. I remember when Saving Private Ryan came out you had Veterans who said they were glad it did not show restraint to the true horrors of war, when the war movies of the 50's and 60's made it look like a bit of a laugh, a jolly boys outing by comparison.

 

 

The fastest-selling first-party PS4 exclusive ever with more than 4 million copies sold through as of June 21 so not really. Not every game has to be for everyone. The original is an extremely brutal game full of exploding heads , burning corpses and torture scenes.

 

And quite a few of the people who bought it have found that the portrayal of violence in it left them uncomfortable or was interestingly dissonant with some of what feel like the aims of the game. Relating to the first point, sure, but it's a sliding scale, not a binary one. 'Realistic violence' isn't always the best way to communicate the impact of violence.

 

To be clear, I'm not questioning the value of the game or anyone's enjoyment - I just responded to the specific idea that criticising the violence was somehow weird. It's clearly legitimate. 

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11 minutes ago, Dirty Harry Potter said:

But it also has indisputably worked for quite a lot of people. That is art. Go figure.

Which is why it's a discussion.

 

I think it's a valid criticism that the game isn't just extremely violent, but revels in its violence. And that any kind of serious impact is lost in the sheer quantity of it. For me it would work in the game's favour if it was simply shorter and had fewer human enemies to kill, so it actually does still seem horrific in the later stages. Ellie probably kills over 100 people in her search for Tommy/revenge - it's ridiculous, and it's only because of the decision to force so many encounters on you and drag the journey on so long.

 

Alice though. The only death that actually hit hard, despite the blatant manipulation. Right at the start of Abby's section, when I saw Alice with Owen and Mel, I knew.

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3 minutes ago, Hewson said:

And quite a few of the people who bought it have found that the portrayal of violence in it left them uncomfortable or was interestingly dissonant with some of what feel like the aims of the game. Relating to the first point, sure, but it's a sliding scale, not a binary one. 'Realistic violence' isn't always the best way to communicate the impact of violence.

Absolutely. One of the issues is that if you show it too realistically and too up close, it turns into a spectacle. Or you can lose the sense that it's horrific by making it too routine. I'm sure TLOU2 wants us to feel that violence is an everyday part of existence in its world, but I assume it wants us to find that horrific as well, not either thrilling or mundane.

 

And abstract violence can be far more alarming. Hotline Miami creates an impact by deliberately making you enjoy the horrendous violence you commit, then showing you the scenes of carnage you leave behind. It's a much more interesting and efficient form of game narrative than TLOU2's, and uses it's lack of realism to be more disturbing.

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41 minutes ago, Hewson said:

It's not a weird argument at all. I mean, this is an incredibly violent game and a huge amount of lavish resource has been spent on realising extremely violent actions, abuse, torture and death. It's not surprising that some people have found that questionable, especially in the wider context of the themes the game explores. Saying 'it's their art' basically renders any discussion of it moot. And it doesn't hold up. Lots of art is intended to be something specific but fails to meet the creators' goals or hits consumers in very different ways. The point here is that they chose to render violence in extremely graphic ways and that indisputably hasn't worked for quite a lot of people.


I have no problem with that. I have also said that it should be great if there was a “gore filter” to toggle on in the main menu or something. But that is a different argument than “the game uses graphic violence for the sake of it because it doesn’t need it so much or so many variations of it”, etc. I can’t agree with that and I haven’t seen any convincing  argument for that in my opinion.

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36 minutes ago, Down by Law said:

The fastest-selling first-party PS4 exclusive ever with more than 4 million copies sold through as of June 21 so not really.


I don’t see what sales figures has to do with whether yet another lovingly animated depiction of death is...

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1 hour ago, Talk Show Host said:


What a weird argument. Do you actually need 150 takes of tormenting the actors to “get” a scene? You clearly don’t. Do you actually need 150 different stores to make an open world convincing? Do you actually need the warm blood melting the snow? You clearly don’t. But some game directors do it anyways, as some movie directors do as well. It’s their art and vision and world building, so they know better than us what they want to achieve. If you don’t like it fine but for me every little detail is needed to bring the world to life.

 

what they want to achieve?

thats not interesting.

 

the question is did they manage to achieve it?

and the question I’d ask you is do you think they wanted us to stop finding the violence violent, because we got bored of it (oh look another strangling scene) so getting us to be embedded in the characters minds, but entirely undermining the point of the story (what is acceptable for revenge - killingeverything apparently)

or did they want us to continue to find it violent (oh look, another loving animated strangling scene)

or did they want us to glory in that violence as yet another (yeah go shiv go!)

etc.

 

i struggle with the first, because it’d be more effective to have the same boring canned animation if that was the authorial intent.

i struggle with the second, because pure repetition leads more to the first - oh I’m going to stab someone, and there will be some expensive animation)

etc.

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43 minutes ago, BadgerFarmer said:

Which is why it's a discussion.

 

I think it's a valid criticism that the game isn't just extremely violent, but revels in its violence. And that any kind of serious impact is lost in the sheer quantity of it. For me it would work in the game's favour if it was simply shorter and had fewer human enemies to kill, so it actually does still seem horrific in the later stages. Ellie probably kills over 100 people in her search for Tommy/revenge - it's ridiculous, and it's only because of the decision to force so many encounters on you and drag the journey on so long.

 

Alice though. The only death that actually hit hard, despite the blatant manipulation. Right at the start of Abby's section, when I saw Alice with Owen and Mel, I knew.


I think that works in terms of making you question Ellie more and more as time goes on. She is so blinded by revenge that she kills everything between her and Abby, even when other characters question that everything is black and white, like Dina when she talks to Ellie about the WLF letting her and Tommy live, that she can't see the wood for the trees. In comparison, Abby mostly kills infected, violent Seraphites and the WLF that threaten the lives of Lev and Yara. Also, I'm sure it's no coincidence that Hotline Miami makes a cameo in this game. I found it more effective than that game, mainly because this game has actual characters that are really fleshed-out. Perhaps I was too busy chasing those S-scores to be really disturbed by Hotline Miami, perhaps it was because the characters had no depth to them. But I knew I felt something when Joel was brutally offed, I felt something during those heartfelt flashbacks, I felt something when Ellie was brutalizing Nora, I felt something when she left Dina and JJ to continue her selfish desire for revenge and I certainly felt something when she was drowning Abby, who managed to go from villain to a person I really cared for and wanted to have a better life with Lev.
I mean, there is some ludonarrative dissonance in that they made the actual combat fun (something that goes for Hotline Miami as well), but as Just Write points out,  I think you can still acknowledge that contradiction without throwing away what the narrative is doing succesfully. The alternative would be something like Spec Ops the Line, an interesting game in what it wants to say but an absolute chore to play.

One thing is for sure: The Last of Us 2, more than any game I can think of in a long, long time, is evoking a lot of discussion and weeds out tons of alt-right trash in the process. It dares to go to places other AAA games don't and it's very progressive and inclusive, and that makes it one of the most important games in a long time I feel. I mean, certain indies do this as well, but they don't have the reach of a title like this. There are already so many great analysis vids and thinkpieces about this game, someting very few games manage to achieve.

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10 minutes ago, footle said:


I don’t see what sales figures has to do with whether yet another lovingly animated depiction of death is...

 

Well it was in response to saying the violence is too much or to quote Hewson ' indisputably hasn't worked for quite a lot of people' The very first trailer released was the hammer scene so in terms of sales,  it can't have put many people off. 

 

Regardless it's the tone they went for and it works in context. Robocop didn't need to show Kenny getting turned inside out by ED 209 but in terms of context it's exciting and hilarious (can someone call a medic?)

 

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46 minutes ago, BadgerFarmer said:

Ellie probably kills over 100 people in her search for Tommy/revenge - it's ridiculous, and it's only because of the decision to force so many encounters on you and drag the journey on so long.

 

I hate to bring up the term ludonarrative dissonance but it's a videogame. The challenge is overcoming enemies using the toolset that you have. I can guarantee you if the game had half the amount of combat encounters it has it would be flagged as boring. The same thing happened to Uncharted 4 where the first 4 or so chapters are all scene setting, and the game doesn't really kick off until chapter 8. The Lost Legacy has double the amount of action in half the time and many people say it's the best one.

 

Max Payne 3 comes to mind, it's a forum favourite and it's non stop bloodshed all the way through, with lovingly presented slow mo death cams the player can control. I don't recall anyone ever saying it needed less action or a lower bodycount and it revels in it's violence way more than either of the LOU games ever do. And that's fine.

 

 

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Just started a run through of the first game.again.

 

First NPC, additional conversation after the prologue between Joel and two others features the voice of, yep, Laura Bailey. Never noticed before!! 

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6 minutes ago, footle said:

 

what they want to achieve?

thats not interesting.

 

the question is did they manage to achieve it?

and the question I’d ask you is do you think they wanted us to stop finding the violence violent, because we got bored of it (oh look another strangling scene) so getting us to be embedded in the characters minds, but entirely undermining the point of the story (what is acceptable for revenge - killingeverything apparently)

or did they want us to continue to find it violent (oh look, another loving animated strangling scene)

or did they want us to glory in that violence as yet another (yeah go shiv go!)

etc.

 

i struggle with the first, because it’d be more effective to have the same boring canned animation if that was the authorial intent.

i struggle with the second, because pure repetition leads more to the first - oh I’m going to stab someone, and there will be some expensive animation)

etc.


Personally I thought it suited the game perfectly and the variations and all the details provided even more immersion. I can’t say that I fully get the need to talk about how the game “discusses” violence when it clearly doesn’t. And I’m glad it doesn’t because it focuses its core narrative into something much more important for me.

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One thing that really struck me, but I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere, is how utterly unhinged Ellie appears when you're playing as Abbey in the theatre showdown. It's not just the knowledge of what she's done, or that she's heavily armed and lethal to approach, it's the way she moves during the battle, scuttling around like Gollum on speed or a facehugger, only ever pausing to put together a new mine or nailbomb. She genuinely comes across as monstrous, and it makes you realise that's how all the NPCs were perceiving you for the first half of the game.

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27 minutes ago, Talk Show Host said:


Personally I thought it suited the game perfectly and the variations and all the details provided even more immersion. I can’t say that I fully get the need to talk about how the game “discusses” violence when it clearly doesn’t. And I’m glad it doesn’t because it focuses its core narrative into something much more important for me.

I promise I’ll drop this now, but I just don’t understand what you mean. The fact that the characters don’t discuss violence or Druckmann says it’s not ‘about’ violence doesn’t mean the game isn’t fundamentally about it and fascinated by it.There’s a real argument to be made that this is the most graphically violent entertainment of all time. It’s obviously cool for your response to that to be “I think that all the effort and care they put into realising gruesome violence absolutely worked.” But to behave as if it’s odd that violence is a core theme of the game and the creative effort seems perverse.

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