Do people really think this is too violent? Also side note about Joel.

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TheIdleCritic

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#1  Edited By TheIdleCritic

Hi guys,

I'm genuinely not trolling. I thought I'd ask a forum where the members actually have brain cells.

I'm not judging or being sarcastic, I'm really curious. Perhaps I'm desensitised, but I could never find characters and events in an animated project too violent. There's things like The Raid 2, and The Night Comes For Us, (not to mention B movies that are made purely to shock), which are perhaps two of the most violent movies I've seen, and those involved real people. TLOU2 is nothing compared to those. Now before I finish - I'm not saying it's wrong to feel that it's too violent or be affected by it, this is a genuine open ended question.

I've thoroughly enjoyed stealthing my way around tall grass and shanking people in the neck, and occasionally blowing their limbs off.

As for what they did to Joel... I feel like it was just. People pout and mope and throw their toys out of the pram. In real life you don't get to choose when someone you love or are attached to dies. Sometimes it happens at the worst, most unexpected time. Sometimes you ask yourself why and you grieve, but ultimately you have to carry on. You don't just sit with your arms crossed and say "no". I have no control over when people in my life die, just like you don't have control over when Joel does. Sure it was a shock and came at a terrible point, but as is life. You get up and avenge his death by going on a killing spree.
I do NOT, however, like that you have to play as Abby. My father isn't around anymore, but he wasn't murdered. Had he have been I certainly wouldn't like to get to know his killer. Now that was an odd narrative choice that I don't think added anything at all.

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devise22

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#2  Edited By devise22

Speaking only for myself here, my problem with it's violence is less on a spectrum of how brutal, not that it hasn't gotten more visceral in the sequel, but with the frequency. The small intimate interactive almost adventure game mechanics are some of Naughty Dogs best mechanical sequences. They provide a sense of unison between player, character and world that few games accomplish.

Too much of the violence feels in service of combat padding because it's a game. As the encounters mount and the increasing amount of bodies and horrible acts pile it begins to fall of the realism rails imo. Which is a stark contrast to the subject matter of the game.

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TheIdleCritic

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@devise22: Ah. I understand. Not so much about the level of violence, more the act in itself. Embedded in a world that doesn't necessarily need it.

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dsjwetrwete

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#4  Edited By dsjwetrwete

What they did to Joel was justified and even he himself knew he had it coming when he more or less says, "Do your speech and finish it". What poisons it is the context of stupidity that everything else in that scene embraces. Abby and the WFL/Fireflies invest years in hunting down Joel, but neither do they hide their identities (marked clothing) or kill Tommy and Ellie, the only two witnesses that could tie them to the crime. And it's not like they were just passing through and happened to stumble upon Joel (not entirely), they were at the lodge preparing beforehand. It takes a special kind of hatred to go after someone the way they did, with Abby showing Joel zero mercy even after he'd just saved her life. A person like this, with people like that, aren't going to leave witnesses out of some sense of newfound compassion. They're going to kill everyone in that room and just leave.

And in an earlier conversation, the other guy with Abby (Owen?) even talks about how he's currently hesitant to find Joel in the settlement, fearing retaliation. Joel is just handed to them by the plot, yet neither he or anyone else thinks "we need to kill the other two people with him or they might alert the settlement and come after us (like we did Joel)". Years of time following through on a hardship in a world where every moment is both insane and precious, and they don't do the one thing that they need to to protect themselves and end the cycle of revenge for good - kill the remaining witnesses. And it's something they were clearly primed to do as characters. Fuck they had a pistol pointed at Ellie.

And it's very unlikely that anyone would have tied them to the murders because Joel and Tommy have so many enemies. (And Joel wasn't exactly telling everyone within earshot about how he massacred the Fireflies at the hospital years ago)

Abby and her group are all complete idiots and I don't think anyone should give two shits about them or their world from that point on.

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TheIdleCritic

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@kyniro:

Thank you. I agree I suppose. The way it was done was very ham fisted. I had no issue with Joel's death (of course I liked the character), but you're right, not a lot of the events surrounding it made much sense situationally.

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Deathstriker

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Can you do spoiler tags on here when you're on mobile? To stay vague, the golf club scene was way too far and distasteful IMO. The same, to a lesser degree, goes for the finger biting towards the end of the game. I'm find with violence in video games, it's not real, but there were times it felt like they were trying too hard. Much like the last season of Game of Thrones, everyone did a great job making this... excluding the writers.

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TheIdleCritic

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@deathstriker: I will admit the writing is the weakest part of the game, story wise. Some of the interactions as you play are still nice.

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dsjwetrwete

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#8  Edited By dsjwetrwete

@theidlecritic: To Naughty Dog, violence and brutality are just window dressing. They ignore the reasons and emotions behind them, at least part of the time. Like I'd said, Abby and her group's actions towards Joel are (to them) justified because of the pain and hardship he caused them, a pain and hardship that motivated them to spends months to years hunting him down in order to grant him a merciless death. And they follow through but leave witnesses when they had no reason to, which undermines the ferocity (and veracity) of every decision and every action they'd made leading up to that moment. Which in turn undermines Abby and her group as characters that we're supposed to feel something for.

This world we've crafted is cold and unforgiving. It's not a world where someone plans out and executes a plot for revenge over a period of years only to leave witnesses without a damned good reason as to why. And only two witnesses, one of whom they'd already beaten half to death. It's not like they had to burn down an entire town. And they had guns at the ready, quick and easy.

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TheIdleCritic

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@kyniro:

That makes a lot of sense. Simply, it was just a very amateurishly written way to ensure Ellie can have her journey of revenge. They could have just had her witness the killing from a far or something.

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dartell

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Not really a Last of Us of fan but the violent trailers I've seen look nuts. I could be getting older, but man does it look brutal.

I feel the same way about MK 11 and 10, but not as bad. I think if I played through it I would have a good time.

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thefizz

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Maybe this game just relishes putting you into the meatgrinder. From what I've seen of it, it is absolutely unrelenting. Bloodshed and torment its currency.

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ToughShed

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I thought I'd ask a forum where the members actually have brain cells.

I'm not judging or being sarcastic, I'm really curious. Perhaps I'm desensitised, but I could never find characters and events in an animated project too violent.

lol at thinking violence tolerance is about being stupid I guess?

You're desensitized. Even for me, who is not squeamish, there's obviously a difference you can precieve in these things. TLOU 2 is way more violent than most things. As a Mortal Kombat fan, the last couple entries have become a bit uncomfortable for me when they weren't remotely before.

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TheIdleCritic

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#13  Edited By TheIdleCritic

@toughshed said:
@theidlecritic said:

I thought I'd ask a forum where the members actually have brain cells.

lol at thinking violence tolerance is about being stupid I guess?

I didn't say that? It has nothing to do with intelligence. I just noticed that in other places when you sincerely ask a question, usually you just get sworn at and called every derogatory name under the sun, but not actually given an answer. Like they don't actually read the question.

Also, I suppose I am desensitised more than most. I do work in the film industry too, so when I see violence on screen I don't see it as that, I just wonder how they did it lol.

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cikame

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It does get a lot more personal with the violence, you can see knives going into throats with more detail than ever before, accompanied with the horrific expressions on peoples faces, but i think what's shocking people more is what happens to the characters themselves.
I'm not squeamish at all, but i'd be lying if i didn't say (spoilers for RDR) Marston's death didn't affect me, something about being shot too many times but still standing, hearing the blood in his breath as he struggles to breathe, i found that pretty horrific.
The death of main characters or otherwise sad endings doesn't shock me or upset me emotionally, i just don't like it much, i'm a big fan of satisfying happy endings, i don't get anything from a story ending with everyone being upset, not because i'm upset, it's because i'm bored.

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RockinRedBeard

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I think it definitely has to do with your exposure to violent games and also your immersion. I’m pretty much desensitized to a lot of violence but if I’m invested in the story I’ll at least empathize with a named character getting injured. Maybe it was Vinny who said it on a recent beastcast but I agree that it’s definitely hard to stay immersed when only cutscene injuries count. If all violence were treated equally somehow, cinematically and not then maybe it would mean more?

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TheIdleCritic

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@cikame: Yes. I think if you were to have a bleak ending, the whole situation around it and narrative lading up to need needs to be tight. Otherwise it's just a bad ending for the sake of it.

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Efesell

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@theidlecritic: It's really hard to pull off both the journey and the destination being a huge bummer.

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AV_Gamer

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#19  Edited By AV_Gamer

I've honestly played games that were a lot more violent. One of the funny Easter eggs of TLOU2 is a cutscene with a mook playing Hotline Miami, imo, that game is way more violent even though the graphics is no where as detailed as this game.

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Efesell

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@av_gamer: There's not much sense in comparing those though.

Hotline Miami may have more violence but it absolutely cannot be called more violent, you know?

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csl316

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It's a violent game, but it feels on par with the original. Honestly, I expected way worse.

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bigsocrates

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@csl316: What does worse violence even look like? There are scenes of torture, maiming, exploding bodies that leave limbs scattered all around, molotov cocktails that burn people to a crisp, and some really brutal visceral melee where you carve people up bit by bit.

What level of violence were you expecting if you were expecting worse than this? I think it may be the most violent game I've ever played. I certainly can't think of a more violent title.

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csl316

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@bigsocrates: That's the thing, I don't know what I was expecting. All the stuff you mentioned is commonplace in games. I was worried it was being taken to a new level and didn't want to find out.

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ToughShed

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#24  Edited By ToughShed

@csl316 said:

@bigsocrates: That's the thing, I don't know what I was expecting. All the stuff you mentioned is commonplace in games.

It sure isn't man lol. come on.

I'm not arguing for censoring but some people acting like this isn't super violent or playing dumb like every game is like this is a weird defensive response. Is it because people think ND is above violent spectacle? They've been reveling in it for many years and TLOU is no exception. The story in all the games even is how the main character is fucked up for all the violence they enact in some way (even if it never goes anywhere).

Part of why the last MK was a bit fucked up for me was because the fatalities have become raw in a whole new way. That wasn't there before at all. A certain few games are kicking it up a notch. Most only at times. For example MK fatalities or certain CoD kill animations. TLOU is just tons of that. It's a horror game.

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bigsocrates

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@csl316: I think it's the fidelity of the violence that really impacts people here. Sure explosives and melee kills are pretty common in games, but the realism of the graphics and the animations make them pretty impactful. I think that the golf club scene and some of the viscera you get when you blow people up are pretty much maximum video game violence. I'm not sure how you can get more violent without just extended scenes of torture. I suppose there could be some forced QTE where you vivisect someone, but there's a fight near the end of the game where you use a sickle and it comes pretty close.

The Last Of Us Part II has levels of violence that approach the most violent movies I've ever seen. It's not as disturbing as those movies, but that's because there's less emotional impact to the violence and it's less drawn out, not because of the level. I think we're pretty much at maximum level of violence possible in the medium at this point.

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csl316

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#26  Edited By csl316

@toughshed: It's an extremely violent game. Never said it isn't. But so was the original and I feel like they're both on par.

But like socrates mentioned above, it might be the fidelity that makes it hit even more now.

In other words, both of these games are quite brutal.

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ToughShed

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#27  Edited By ToughShed

@csl316: that's exactly what everyone was saying man lol. It's possible to achieve a very high fidelity to violence if you want to now. Most games don't try so much but the last MK has in fatalities hit this mark and this game does hit that mark all throughout. It isn't a coincidence they make the NPCs you brutally kill say each others names and stuff also.

This is a super violent videogame by design and the fidelity and the violence are obviously ramped up.

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mrfluke

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I think it’s the nature of the act itself, especially when folks have build up an attachment to the characters in these games VS something like mortal kombat or a movie like John Wick where the violence is part of the spectacle of it all

And for what it’s worth, I can watch mortal kombat fatalities no problem and barely react because for me mortal kombat is so far from reality that my brain already knows to chill ,

but as someone who played through the first last of us, liked it, but didn’t love it, and really have no interest playing last of us 2, I watched that golf club Scene on YouTube and couldn’t make it through the video because of the act of the scene and the way it was presented

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trulyalive

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I don’t know if it’s because I’ve seen considerably more graphic violence in films or because people were making such a big deal about the violence pre-release but I honestly came away from TLoU II a little surprised at how tame it was.

There were certainly a couple of deaths in the game that made me kinda recoil but generally I was pretty I un-shocked by the specific acts of violence in the game.

I will say that the tone of the game felt violent in a way that few other stories do, and I definitely felt that oppressive sensation.

Do I think it’s too violent? No, not really. I don’t think I’ve ever seen violence in a film or game that I felt was ‘too’ violent. At the end of the day, as realistic as the mocap might be, it’s a fiction and a fantasy. I don’t hold to the notion that there’s some sort of line that you can cross that makes it not okay anymore.

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TheIdleCritic

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Going bit off track here but...

Ellie never found out that Joel killed Abby's father, did she? Or am I missing something.

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Nodima

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#31  Edited By Nodima

The Night Comes for Us is such a good call, that was a movie whose sole excuse was fetishizing the filmography of the people involved as much as telling any kind of story.

By contrast, I think Naughty Dog is doing a whole lot more with their violence in The Last of Us 2 than "look what we thought to do with this meat hook!" I think it's totally fair to squirm at the idea of perpetrating violence yourself rather than merely choosing to indulge in its portrayal, but I'm a little shocked by the reaction to this game's violence. Particularly something like the golf club, which might feel gratuitous to some early on but by the time it comes back around makes complete narrative sense. There's an effort to earn that that's entirely missing from, say, Tomb Raider's grisly river branch deaths which I'd argue are for more gratuitous than anything here.

Likewise, I suffocated a man with a bag in Manhunt over and over and over two decades ago while participating in a literal snuff film simulator. And yet somehow the violence still feels far more appropriate here; I really feel like the fidelity is the problem people are having and not the actual content, because as is always the case with Naughty Dog they are just nodding to all their filmic betters and throwing more money at what a good video game means in a given moment than anyone else can.

Lastly, just so I'm not mincing words here, the violence in TLoU2 is very uncomfortable, but there is also a lot of time spent exploring environments, smalltalking with companion characters, solving puzzles of both the environmental and mental variety, reading letters and marveling at the personalization of total strangers' living quarters like the kid that clearly loved soccer and punk rock or weird prior trespassers' looting habits like the office building that had two PS3s stolen from it yet the pairs of DualShock 3s were left behind. I feel like the combat in these games evocatively makes its point by being the thing people come away from it talking about in both iterations, though I'm honestly not sure it's the bulk of the experience. When Tim Rogers starts breaking The Last of Us down by play-style in his recent re-review, even as someone whose finished the game 5 times over seven years I was shocked at the numbers he presented vis-a-vis violence vs. non-violence.

It reminds me of the MLB The Show baseball community, where players complain about how often they strike out or lineout directly to the right fielder only because it is such a harsh result of an input from the player compared to the dozens and hundreds of time another, far more likely outcome takes place.

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bigsocrates

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Nodima

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#33  Edited By Nodima

@bigsocrates: Hah, that's from a bit later than where I'm talking about! It's a gray office kind of structure and the controllers are just on the floor in front of the TV stand. There's like 6 TV sets in the room and two of them are paired to pairs of controllers but there's no unit to be found. I got on my hands and knees and wiped the shelving for dust while I was making sure!

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bigsocrates

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@nodima: That's a fatty PS3 with PS2 backwards compatibility. If you think those are valuable today, imagine how valuable they will be 25 years after the apocalypse, when emulation is very difficult.

PS3 controllers, on the other hand, can barely hold a charge today and break incredibly easily, so they're probably useless in the post apocalypse. Presumably whoever stole the fatty PS3s is using PS4 controllers with them after updating the firmware. I think you lose rumble but that's a worthwhile price for the superior controllers.

Plus PS3 controllers can develop loud, sticky, buttons if the springs start to go, so that is a serious risk as clicker bait. You don't want to be hammering on the square button during a QTE only to draw down a whole horde of infected.

This is also why nobody plays PS4 in The Last of Us. That fan would pull every bloater on the West Coast towards you.

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#35  Edited By Fluidk

@theidlecritic: Nobody actually thinks that the last of us is too violent. The issue is that people are having a problem with how the violence makes them feel. I think people might blame the violence, but really they are upset about the fact that the violence makes them feel bad instead of good. The game does not give the player a sense of moral superiority or righteous judgment in the actions that they are taking. As such, the violence is much more visceral and weighty.

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follow001

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I’m like halfway through the game and there’s a coupe scenes that make me go “damn” but nothing that’s like scarring me. I think the whole “it’s so violent and dark” thing is overblown/intentional marketing hype.

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SilverSaint

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There is definitely a lot of violence, but in a world with games like Resident Evil, Dead Space, Outlast, Dishonored, Prey, need I go on?, I don't think its a real consideration. This even ignores that the vast vast majority of video games are predicated purely on violence and killing, but society ignores the mass killing in most games as violence. Like Halo is a super violent game, but because there is minimal blood most don't even consider.

I do think its a pretty big cop out when I saw reviews discuss, "Is this game too violent" when the vast vast majority of other games (many of which are even more violent) aren't discussed in such a manner.


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TheIdleCritic

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#38  Edited By TheIdleCritic

@nodima: Very well thought out answer.

I tend to agree that the violence is more or less appropriate here. I never thought there was anything too gratuitous. There were a couple of moments I didn't like, but merely because I felt they were unnecessary, not because I was shocked by it - namely the finger biting and result, and the Nora scene (I didn't feel the emotion and thought it was a poorly directed scene).

And people need to remember this isn't just Naughty Dog being grim. Of course if you frag someone they're going to blow up. Limbs are going to go flying, blood is going to spurt out when you shoot someone, and people are going to choke on their blood when you get shank them in the neck. This is the world of The Last Of Us. A violent place, canis canem edit. We see remnants of the old world, one where violence was not the very basic thing needed for survival. And we see it at the farm, a place where the two girls try to get back to that era. To be fair to NG they never let up on the theme. Naughty Dog isn't a one game studio - Uncharted is more of a blockbuster non 18+ affair, there are also grenades and guns but there's no blood spurts, no decapitation, because that's not the theme of the game, and in Crash Bandicoot he gets flattened but he's fine (because he's a Bandicoot wearing jeans). Regardless of whether it's done in a ham fisted way, NG always stay true to each individual franchise.

Perhaps it was the way I played the game - which was completely stealthy, to the point where I would restart encounters if I was caught - but I never felt uncomfortable when I was killing people. By that respect the game never became that violent because mostly it just involved an arrow to the head or one silenced shot to the face - also once you kill three Mateo's in the same encounter it really takes you out of it lol.

I felt a sense of satisfaction shooting the last person with the un-suppressed rifle because I knew I'd taken everyone else out. It only got annoying near the end when encounters involved loads of people, that got a little tiring. I was a little uncomfortable with cutscene deaths (a lot of which were SURPRISE BITCH ENEMY OUT OF THE SHADOWS NOW YOU'RE DEAD) but never made the argument that "he didn't deserve that *golf club*cough*" and got upset about it because the character who performed the killing did think their victim deserved it. We're privy to a story we have to remember (for me the weakest part is actually the narrative, but it's one we didn't write, so we have to try and empathise and then criticise at the end - and there's a lot of criticism to be had at). Again, like I wrote somewhere else I was most uncomfortable when the game forced you to kill a dog. Not just because I made the effort to complete the game not killing a single one, but also because of the comment Ellie made afterwards, it was like "oh, so that's who she is now. I don't like that at all".

When people critique the violence in respect to the frequency vs story, which has been done in this thread, I can understand their stand point and I'll never say they're wrong, but to say it then " feels like a game" or a similar sentiment I think is reductive. It is a game. Even though TLOU is very cinematic and at its core is narrative driven there has to be gameplay, and in regards to TLOU2 the encounters is the gameplay. To have less of the encounters would make the game what? More of an interactive story - a la something by telltale - or just a simple platformer. I personally though NG struck a good balance between the combat and quiet moments and if anything I spent more time in those quieter moments because I was exploring.

I'm not wearing rose tinted glasses, I won't defend the story, of which I have a few issues with myself, but I think the world and gameplay are fantastic. If anything I wanted more dramatic reactions from enemies other than gurgling lol.

EDIT: Oh, and the sound design is the best I've ever heard.

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TheIdleCritic

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@follow001: I hope you're liking it! I don't think it's too dark, no. I never understood that. Things can be bleak and dark. That's a legitimate theme. Criticise the narrative and writing, sure, but if it's supposed to be dark and horrific then I expect to be fucked up by the end of it!

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TheIdleCritic

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#40  Edited By TheIdleCritic

@silversaint: I think because games have become much more cinematic and the narrative matters far more than it used to people tend to forget that at the end the day these are still video-games and a level of suspension of disbelief needs to be employed. As cinematic as they have become, it's still not a movie. Otherwise what's the point? There still needs to be engrossing and fun gameplay/set pieces, and if that involves gunning down hordes of human enemies in certain titles then that's what it is. It's a game. You shouldn't let that detract you from the bigger narrative.

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Deathstriker

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#41  Edited By Deathstriker

@silversaint: I think the game is tacky and distasteful with violence, more so than too violent. It's in "Negan with a baseball bat" gear the whole time. Somethings like adding dog enemies and you either shoot them or shank a german sheperd in the neck a dozen times isn't my idea of fun or something I want to see. A million games have you sneak behind enemies and kill them, but only this game has these graphics on console and they added that blood gargle sound. The devs did it on purpose, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a mistake.

When I see dogs I just want go skip to the next encounter before Ellie has to tackle one and stab it 7 times - that's not a good thing to me.

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NeverGameOver

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#42  Edited By NeverGameOver

There are multiple scenes, particularly in the latter half of the game, once the other faction is introduced, that are outright comical in their over the top violence. I’m not “bothered by it” but it completely takes me out of the realistic tone that the universe was going for (particularly in the first game). I feel like I’m playing Kill Bill. The biggest problem with this game is its complete lack of restraint and/or subtlety— and one place this show up is in the violence. It’s like the writers of Saints Row set out to make a Last of Us Game. This game would be WAY more effective in conveying its point if you condensed the second half into a couple of hours and scaled some of this back.

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Octaslash

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The violence in the cutscenes actually seemed... restrained compared to similar media (The Walking Dead). I found the level of detail they put into murdering enemies during gameplay kind of hilarious though. High fidelity or not, blowing someone’s leg off feels just as cheesy as it did in Soldier of Fortune 2, 20 years ago.

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TheIdleCritic

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#44  Edited By TheIdleCritic

@octaslash: Haha. It's a little better than Soldier of Fortune, come on!

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follow001

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@theidlecritic: I think the story is pretty uneven so far but I think the combat/stealth encounters are pretty great. The only thing I actively hate are the environmental story telling notes. It just feels so dated/corny this point.

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TheIdleCritic

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@follow001: lol true. I appreciate they're all done in real handwriting though. Makes me cringe when games do notes in well worn generic fonts.

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Nodima

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@theidlecritic: I think the story is pretty uneven so far but I think the combat/stealth encounters are pretty great. The only thing I actively hate are the environmental story telling notes. It just feels so dated/corny this point.

One thing I thought was a little clever in this game were the middle school style notes that carried on conversations between separate post-minders who otherwise really didn't cross paths. And in this game's specific interest, the time was taken to make most of the rooms that contained those notes consistent with the content of the note(s).

I also think email and cellphones have just made it so hard, even in a game like Red Dead but especially in a game that otherwise depicts so much modern (albeit useless) technology, for us to recognize that somebody very likely could just read a letter then set it down and forget about it before going on to do whatever it was they did next. It's the obsessive reading of the notes that maybe is a bit cornier than the notes themselves, though even there the apocalyptic nature of Last of Us excuses this behavior enough - when your entire existence is shrouded in mystery and every room is a potential threat, you might take a moment to find some answers when you notice the opportunity.

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Topcyclist

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@theidlecritic: Cartoon ized violence can get tuff to watch for some. Have you read berserk comic for example. Some stuff in it is violent enough to give you nightdreams knowing that some of the stuff could and did happen to real people during the crusades. Ito Junji has body horror that would make last of us 2 skimmers jump. Yeah there's always more violent stuff, but for the general audience, not to say the game is for the general audience, but because the general audience is getting the game in droves, they aren't use to the level of violence. Its a niche that they dont bite into on purpose often. Its like going to watch freddy kruger movie and getting hostel or saw, your not ready and not use to it so its off-putting. Clickbatey headlines ensue, people debate, things get hyperbole etc.

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mikachops

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#49  Edited By mikachops

Other games might be more gruesome, but the issue I have with the Last of Us 2's violence is that it looks so real. Even discounting how physically real slitting someone's throat or shooting someone in the head looks in this game, the well acted and well presented pain and suffering is really uncomfortable to me.

Im gonna say yes, people who say they don’t see the issue with this type of fake violence are desensitised. There comes a point where replicating the real thing, both physically and emotionally, gets so close to the point where you may as well be watching a snuff film.

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bluelander

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#50  Edited By bluelander

"Video games can't be too violent because they're fake polygons and not real people like in a movie" is such a mystifying take that it's hard to take seriously, but here goes:

A book can be too violent, and that doesn't involve looking at or listening to representations of real people at all. It's just words on a page. "Too violent" doesn't mean that violence is literally happening to humans, it means that the depiction of violence is too explicit or gruesome or gratuitous for a person's comfort level. That's obviously subjective, and more visual and auditory realism can affect a person's threshold, but it doesn't have to involve any real people at all except an author and a reader. If someone made an interactive fiction game out of 120 Days of Sodom... I'd have to check it out, because it'd be too weird not to, but I wouldn't make it far before I had to quit. The depiction of violence in the book is too off-putting for me to read, and being put in the position of being forced to act out that violence to move the narrative would take it to another level. A narrative that involves a strong emotional connection to a character can also move the threshold. It's easier to watch a Mortal Kombat character rip out someone's spine because the fiction is a wacky cartoon world where death isn't real. It's easier to shrug off because it's not taken seriously by the story or the characters, you're not expected to empathize. When a realistic gruesome depiction of violence happens to a character you spent several hours getting to know on a human level, it makes whatever violence happens to them that much harder to deal with. I can easily see why TLoU2 would be too much for some people.