Games of the Year: The Last of Us Part II

Games of the Year: The Last of Us Part II
That The Last of Us Part II was the most eligible candidate for the 2020 Game of the Year awards has always been a bit of Pulcinella's secret.

The game debunks almost all the key points that have distinguished the GOTY of recent years: very high production and artistic value, graphics pushed to the limit of the hardware on which it runs, level of difficulty that can be modulated and accessible to the public of all levels, marked narrative component, a combination of highly emotional situations with others equally brutal. .. and that LGBTQ + sprinkling to flavor everything.

Beyond all this, I have already expressed in the review my reasons for rewarding Naughty Dog's work and it was, not surprisingly, my first 10 in over 6 years of articles and videos dedicated to the world of gaming; I will try, once again and more briefly, to explain why, in my opinion, The Last of Us Part II has all the credentials to be considered the GOTY of this unfortunate 2020, regardless of how many nominations and statuettes there are actually brought home.

Watch on YouTube. The first thing to highlight and which often and unfortunately is unfortunately overshadowed is that, beyond the touching soundtrack, the superb actor figures and the exceptional aesthetics of the title, The Last of Us Part II is a damn fun videogame to play. Every element of the predecessor has been improved, including the responsiveness of the controls and the range of movements and actions available to the protagonists.

The gunplay offers a good variety and customization of consumable weapons and tools; the structure of the maps allows various approaches to a single objective, from the most silent and peaceful, to the most frenetic and merciless.

Impossible not to name the enemy programming, one, if not the best of this generation: no matter how more or less heartbreaking it can be to slaughter people, infected and animals, and hear them shout the name of fallen comrades (and, in the case of dogs, seeing them approaching their dead masters, whining), their way of sighting, reacting, around the player is the perfect compromise between realism and arcade playfulness, all accompanied by exceptional audiovisual feedback.

Joel Miller embodies the perfect survivor: a strong man but a slave to the ghosts of the past, condemned to never stop wearing and looking forward to a wristwatch that has been standing still for years. Speaking of feedback, we must not underestimate another element in which The Last of Us Part II is considered a real trailblazer in AAA productions: accessibility. As discussed some time ago in a dedicated article, Naughty Dog has forged a symbiosis between "the mass title" and the product attentive to the niche, the minority, the less fortunate: people who, even if they do not buy the video game because they are unable to play it, they would not affect the overall sales balance in the slightest, but which, despite this, were not overshadowed by anyone else. Discussing in depth the narrative of The Last of Us Part II would take too long and, above all, could spoil the experience of those who have not yet played it with spoilers. I will limit myself to saying that, in my opinion, it would have been very simple to make a "The Last of Us 2" that made more or less everyone happy.

The plot of the previous title was however developed on fairly scholastic tracks, revolutionary just for the videogame medium, still immature on many points compared to other forms of entertainment.

Yet, Naughty Dog and the director, writer and recently promoted vice president of the company, Neil Druckmann, have chosen the most difficult path: no one would have imagined the Odyssey of the months preceding and the weeks following the release of the game, but it was still expected that most of the "fans" of the first The Last of Us would not have appreciated at all the turn taken by the events.

The game does not hesitate to show situations of dirty violence, not very theatrical, almost clumsy ... and, therefore, even more credible and frightening. Yet it was chosen to prioritize telling a story and delivering a strong message, rather than just "entertaining" people. And this, as far as I'm concerned, is an act of authorial courage that must be recognized, but above all respected.

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This certainly doesn't mean The Last of Us Part II is a perfect title: in addition to small purely playful smudges, what appears is undoubtedly a production bordering on arrogance: exceptional and perfectly aware of being so.

A game that goes its own way and never yields to the whims of the public and on the contrary, at times it deliberately seems to do the impossible to make the controller wielding suffer.

The Last of Us Part II is that first class student, good-looking, sporty and from a good family, always on time, in order and in a good mood.

We can hate him, envy him, want to see any of his steps false in order to prove to ourselves that if even he is imperfect, our limits are somehow more acceptable.

Or we can welcome what good he has to offer, have fun with him and, why not, become in turn better people.

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