There has been one constant in the PlayStation 4 generation that has helped the console stand out from the competition.
These days, the consistency of first-party goods from Sony is difficult to beat. Early highlights such as Bloodborne and Ratchet & Clank paved the way for titles defining genres that a few years later will gain from an expansive installation base.
This allowed the last-gen system of Sony to end its final year with a bang, and one game was able to describe everything to which previous exclusive PS4 games aspired.
The Last of Us: Part II is why, in architecture, direction, gameplay, and storytelling, we play games – a masterpiece.
If we crown Naughty Dog with another Game of the Year award, you might suggest the rest of the industry has some serious catching up to do.
The last two big releases of the studio, The Last of Us and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, both were in our top spot at the end of December, and this third award shows once again that all standards can be met by the creator.
And amid these expectations about spectacularity, with this PS4 farewell, the team has managed to impress and delight.
That’s because a narrative risk was taken by the team – something seldom seen these days in AAA productions. It’s a convincing love and hate tale that opens the post-apocalyptic future with a fantastic set of new characters, operating alongside the faces we’ve already come to know and love.
Abby and co. carry the harsh reality of a world without legislation to a convincing new perspective, while the supporting cast touches on a welcome amount of trans representation.
With solid, emotional arcs and a vendetta that ends in the best way possible, a plot fit for 2020 shines.
Not to mention the gameplay, which has been extended to better support stealth and other sneaky approaches, that links these narrative threads together. This is one aspect that Naughty Dog doesn’t get enough credit for – when it comes to third-person fighting, the creator is absolutely one of the best in the business. Ellie has the capacity to outsmart both the Seraphites and the Washington Liberation Front without breaking a sweat with a silent gun, knife or glass bottle in her possession.
Seattle’s water-washed city also boasts an increased sophistication of the puzzle, as ropes and cables are twisted to do your bidding, no matter how awkward the solution might look.
Naughty Dog is really the Last of Us: Part II at its finest.
Might it be the best-looking game on the PS4 as well? So we suspect. With seven-year-old hardware, what the Santa Monica studio has done is absolutely stunning – it also looks better than some PlayStation 5 games. The character animations are on a completely different level, the settings and environments are almost lifelike, and new heights are achieved by the enemy design (who could forget the Rat King?). We can’t wait to see what on the PS5 the developer accomplishes.
Our game of the year is The Last of Us: Part II, but it means so much more to many than that. This is a human story guided by emotion, despite the otherworldly beings which roam post-apocalyptic America. As the diminishing survivors of the Cordyceps infection battle for their own well-being and that of those nearest to them, love and loss affect both the story and gameplay of the game.
There aren’t any winners, no black or white, just shades of gray.
The Last of Us: Part II takes this inner struggle into account and creates a feat that will be impossible to resolve in the years to come. No matter how it was received, Naughty Dog dared to say its own tale.
Thank god it’s over.
Check out our analysis of The Last of Us: Part II for more information, which you can access through the link.
Do you think The Last of Us: Part II is the best PS5 2020 PS4 game, too? In the comments below, launch the discussion.
How are you judging The Last of Us: Part II?
Quite good, very good,
Meh The Meh
I have not played it
How we choose our Game of the Year: In December, our editorial team came up with a list of Game of the Year nominees based on our own ratings and a variety of other factors.
After much discussion, we shortened the list of nominees and asked all staff and the community to vote on their five favorite