Two weeks ago, Naughty Dog released a new nearly five-minute long trailer for their highly anticipated Last of Us Part II. Fans were treated to a visually stunning, violent clip that departs from the original game's tone. This is a shock to a many, who have deemed the trailer too violent, some even comparing it to The Walking Dead. And, as someone who has enjoyed the first game many times, I have to say that I agree.
The original The Last of Us was ground breaking - it blended a true cinematic experience with fun, difficult gameplay. Its premise seemed generic: Two people trying to survive in a disease-ridden world. But it had so much depth, thanks to the writing and the astounding cast. Upon it's release, it was met with immediate acclaim to no one's surprise. By the time of its release, The Last of Us was already in talks to be the next big thing. This was due to it's stellar marketing campaign that managed to show both the game's astounding graphics and wonderful storytelling.
Cut to The Last of Us Part II. It, like it's predecessor, has a lot of hype. However, unlike it's predecessor, it has a reputation to live up to. And according to this recent trailer - it's not off the the best start.
Now, before anyone rips my head off, I'm not saying the trailer isn't good. It's a beautiful trailer. The graphics are wonderful, and it does tell a story. But it makes me wonder what kind of game Part II is going to be. It's definitely not the tale of a young girl and her father-figure surviving in the wasteland. Instead, we're going to be kicking ass and taking names.
This isn't too much of a shock. The first teaser, released in late 2016, showed an older Ellie, singing a song. It was beautiful as it was bittersweet. And the video ended with her telling an older Joel that she was going to kill them all. It was a powerful moment, and it hooked me in. But there was an anger there that. It was subtle, but you could hear it in Ellie's voice as she sang. You could feel it in the look she gave Joel.
Then, last week at Paris Games Week, a new teaser released. It showed characters I've never seen before. And throughout the video, at least three of them fight to stay alive. And one of them fails. It was difficult to watch. The trailer is intense, but it's far more graphic than the previous one. It definitely fits some of the usual post-apocalyptic tropes (crazed religious woman, what seems a sacrifice, etc). It makes me wonder what this new game is going to be.
Are we still going to get the astounding storytelling, or will it trade story telling for flashy violence? I don't think so. I'm optimistic about Part II. Games change. They grow and they adapt with their characters. I think Naughty Dog knows this, and think the creative team knows this. I just hope the marketing team works a little harder to figure out just what they want to show us.
Shann Smith is a freelance writer, playwright, screenwriter, and gamer based in NYC. He runs two columns here on Popdust: Video Gay-Mer and Role PlayGround! If you'd like him to take a look at a game, hit him up!
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