I’m going to put it out there right from the start. This review will basically be a love letter to Naughty Dog. I’m not going to beat around the bush, The Last of Us II, in my opinion, is the perfect video game and the perfect sequel. I loved The Last of Us on the PlayStation 3 and I recently had played it again on the PlayStation 4 with the remaster (including the Left Behind DLC) in order to get the story back in the forefront of my mind. I had such high expectation with the sequel and disappointment wasn’t a feeling I was ready for, I was praying that Naughty Dog would not let me down. They didn’t with the Uncharted series so I was sure they wouldn’t here with The Last of Us Part II. 25 brilliant hours after, Naughty Dog delivered on what is simply put, a masterpiece.

A masterpiece is a strong and very bold claim but I completely stick by it and that is mainly thanks to the story that is told. I’m in no shape or form going to spoil the story of The Last of Us Part II, it’s a story that you need to play for yourself. If you haven’t yet played the original game, I’d strongly recommend you playing that first as you’ll find yourself getting lost with the overall backstory. The main protagonist is Ellie in The Last of Us Part II. Be prepared to feel so many emotions in this game; shock, upset, happiness, anger; it’s all there in abundance and more! The story isn’t scared of going to places that you wouldn’t expect and I fully applaud Naughty Dog. Find a better story than this wonderful sequel….I’ll wait.

If you thought the original game looked good, wait until you play this. We’re coming to the end of the current generation of consoles but Naughty Dog showed there is life in the old girl yet. The PlayStation 4’s power is showcased wonderfully on a visual standpoint. All of the characters look absolutely fantastic and it’s like you’re watching a movie for the most part. The visual fidelity doesn’t even seem to get downgraded too much from a cutscene to gameplay, and that’s testament once again to Naughty Dog for harnessing every bit of power the PlayStation 4 has to offer. I don’t have a PlayStation 4 pro but I can only imagine how good it looks in 4K!

One of the best things (there’s many!) about The Last of Us is, of course, the soundtrack. The soundtrack in the first game was sublime, and it’s more of the same here. It’s beautiful, it really is. And then there is this.

Yup, Ellie plays the guitar in The Last of Us Part II. Joel stuck to his promise eh?!. It’s little things like that that just brought a huge smile to my face. The voice acting is superb, both Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson do such a brilliant job in the sequel, even better than the job in they did in the first. All of the other cast do brilliant too, they all come together to help make this story seem so real, they all had me gripped from the very start.

Gameplay now and if you loved what gameplay was on offer in the first game, you’re going to love this even more. Naughty Dog has carefully but wonderfully built on the gameplay for the sequel and it just flows beautifully. I much prefer the stealth approach in games and taking on the enemies (the main enemies in this game are known as The WLF). and hand to hand combat has been improved massively. There is one part of the game where you have a hand to hand fight which looks and feels cinematic and it just flowed brilliant. Dodging is now a big part of the combat, as you press L1 now to dodge incoming punches and weapons (you can’t dodge bullets, this isn’t the Matrix!). It’s a feature that I used more than anything. Ropes are also part of the game, as you climb them and throw them to get to parts of the area you normally couldn’t. Of course with Naughty Dog, they’re happy to lend a helping game as if you seem lost after a while, the L3 button press prompt will come up.

You can now kill dogs in The Last of Us Part II. Yup, you read that right. Enemies will have at times have patrol dogs with them that can sniff your sense out and alert the enemy to you. You’ll have to be careful too as the dog will have no qualms in trying to rip your arm off. A quick knife to the throat does usually do the trick but I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad as I could hear the dog’s final yelp. Damn you Naughty Dog!

I really cannot praise this game enough. We’re halfway through 2020 and I already know that The Last of Us Part II will be my game of the year come December. It’s wonderful in every single way, it’s a game that I simply can’t fault. It now begs the question, will there be The Last of Us Part III. There are certainly a lot of possibilities in the story for there to be a trilogy of games and I really hope that Naughty Dog delivers. I will happily wait years once again for a third game, knowing full well I’ll be playing through this again and again in the future.

Thank you so much Naughty Dog. You delivered on every front! The Last of Us Part II is exceptional!

A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by PlayStation