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 Last of Us 2
This game is terrific. :D Another classic from Naughty Dog. I liked the first game of course, and this one is more of the same. There are a few upgrades, granted: the ability to crawl on your belly for stealth, the ability to hold an enemy at gun-point so the others stop firing at you, an expanded upgrade system, etc. Just enough expansion to warrant a sequel.

The graphics are top-notch, of course. Environments are beautifully rendered and practically flawless. It's rare to be taken out of the game from an ugly texture or unrealistic rendering. One thing they can improve upon (and this is far from exclusive to this game) are the facial anatomy of characters. Cut-scenes show very realistic facial expressions, but they don't extend to in-game playing. Not that it's a big deal: you pretty much always just look at the back of your character's head, and other characters' faces are good enough to get the job done. It's just one of those novelties I like to look for, seeing just how much technology has closed the gap between reality and photorealism.

Story: it's some years later, and Ellie is now an adult, and the main character.

At one point, we get to play through a memory of Joel and Ellie, which takes place after the first game ends, and the two have stuck together and integrated into whatever small town they joined. In it, Ellie is young again -- presumably 14, as it's her birthday, and she is 13 in the first game. As a gift, Joel takes her to a dinosaur museum, which despite her being a teenager, sparks a child-like energy and enthusiasm. It emphasizes the paternal role that Joel plays in her life.

We play through another memory later on, which shows Ellie growing older, and beginning to question whether Joel was telling the truth about the Fireflies not being able to use her to find a cure. As we saw at the end of the first game, this wasn't true: the fireflies were going to sacrifice Ellie to research her (I don't know if they were even certain they COULD use her for a cure, but they had to try).

In any case, Joel rescues Ellie before they have a chance to operate on her. To spare her the guilt and moral dilemma, he simply tells her that they were unable to use her to find a cure. Ellie's now growing suspicion of the truth creates tension between the two. In the beginning of this game, we see she acts distant towards him, which was sad and off-putting. You can see how it hurts his feelings. I was afraid she'd just naturally grown apart from him, but it looks like the writers are slowly revealing the reasoning behind it.

Speaking of Ellie, it's neat that the writers made her a lesbian, without making it political. She just is, and it isn't made any more significant of a character trait than her hair color or shoe size. The acting and story-telling are very well done, much like its predecessor. Looking forward to seeing this through to the end, and get those WLF bastards.

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