So I just finished the game. And by most metrics I would say that I enjoyed it immensely. So what are those metrics exactly? I will detail them below.
I would say that Naughty Dog knocked it out of the park like Ken Griffey Jr.. They have a drearier more depressing Seattle than even current day Seattle with it's CHAZ/CHOP shenanigans. The rain and the fog and the stormy sea, and the brilliant visuals make you feel like you're really there, and really fucked. The other parts of the game are nice to look at as well, whether it's Jackson and the snowy forest/mountains or California on the beach. But Seattle was done above perfectly. 9.8/10
Music and Sound design: It's not quite as catchy as the first game, but the music makes up for it during battle suspense. As soon the the music changes, my heart beat ramps up and I know shits about to go down. This plays into the incredibly sound design too. The way glass is so satisfying to smash, the way the voices sound like they're really coming from your left or right even though it's coming out of your TV, The gun and reload sounds, and just Laura Bailey and Ashley Johnson's voice acting for simple grunts, screams, and swearing as you traverse the rough terrain. 9.5/10
Voice Acting: I don't think there is a game in existence, even the first game, that has better voice acting than The Last of Us part 2. Laura Bailey in particular really knows how to inject charisma and likability into a character you want to be mad at. Her screams when the giant hospital monster rips you apart, or when you fall off a high ledge, really hit home and add to the terror or hilarity of whatever situation it is. Abby is buff but she can sound like a bitch when the monsters get the better of her and younger Abby's banter with Owen made me fully belly laugh when she told him she jumped down to ensure he drowned. I really did not expect her to say anything enjoyable because she's an awful character. But young pre Joel-in-one Abby is a likeable person, and if they had paced the game a little better then maybe we could be given the time to care about her and her friends a little more. Ashley Johnson upper her game for Ellie in this one. Even the forgettable side characters really shine here. Some of them I can't even remember their names but I remember their lines because of the strong delivery. 10/10 Perfection
Graphics: The best-looking console game ever made, bar-none. 11/10 I was especially impressed with how seamless the transition was between gameplay and cinematics a lot of the time.
Use of existing assets/characters: This is one area where the game is very weak. They practically don't even use Tommy, even though he's there and even survives the story. It's stupid how much emphasis there was on going after Tommy to make sure he's okay, and there's not even really one part of the game where you team up with him outside of a flashback. I thought he should have been featured in the epilogue too, or gone with Ellie to go after Abby in the finale. Joel is obviously the other under-utilized existing character here. I think they killed him too nearly, and that the pacing of the game was ridiculous. They should have showed us Abby's early scenes with her father, and him with Marlene and Ellie, very early. We should have had a reason to sympathize with Abby immediately. And even though she does actually have some redeeming personality traits, and even some likeability hidden away, it is the gross miss-use of Joel and killing him too early that makes Abby and her friends people that you just can't relate to or care about. 2/10 - this is the weakest part of the game for me
Use of New Characters: I think a lot of them were really good. Dina and Owen are both really likeable, Abby's father was a great character but they didn't explore him enough for my liking. If anything, at least 2 hours of Abby's 10 should have been dedicated to her exploring with her father so we could get to know him better. Young Abby has her moments too. Because of the aformentioned fantastic voice acting, I was even able to care about or feel bad for Abby in certain situations. The sex scene with Owen was weird, forced, and didn't seem entirely consensual, but whatever. Honestly though, the pacing of the game makes all her friends forgettable people who I already knew the fate of. And Abby doesn't mention Manny again after he gets popped. 6/10
Plot: I don't mind the plot other than the fact that a vaccine for a fungal infection makes little to no sense in practicality or viability. I don't think naughty dog enlisted the help of any doctors or scientists for that. But no, I can see why Abby wanted her revenge. The plot is lazy and probably overdone but it's serviceable. It's biggest downfall is the pacing, and going on too long. I personally think that the fight in the theatre should be the end of the game. Maybe still with the epilogue with Dina and the baby. Tommy showing up was phoned in, and so was the lazy Abby capture scene. Although we did get to watch fat Geralt punch a 10 year old transgender kid and knock him the fuck out. But yeah, end it with Dina and the baby. That would have set up TLOU3, or a DLC, and it would have been a great place to end it. Ellie gets curb stomped and the credits roll. Nobody would have expected that. Instead the game goes on waaay too long, and the fight in the water isn't as good, or as intense as the fight in the theatre. I think the fight in the theatre might be the best part of TLOU2.
Story: Woah boy, this is a loaded section. So I'm going to split it in two.
1. TLOU2 as it's own standalone game:
It's pretty bad because the pacing is all over the place, the beginning is slow, and after killing Joel waaay too early they have us casually walk around in seattle collectathoning for free stuff and doing rope puzzles. It's silly. if anything, either right before or right after Joel dies it should cut to early Abby, and give us a fleshed out section with her father and how much of an awesome guy he was, and how happy and innocent Abby used to be before she became a T-800 unit. Maybe fleshed out Owen some more with her and her father. They just don't pace it well and they just don't give us enough time to really care.
Lev and Yara aren't very likable or even memorable, and too much of the game is spent trying to save Yara only for her to die minutes later. It was such a let down, because I went into this part of the game really wanting to try to like Abby and understand her position. I would have preferred they try to link Abby and Ellie together better. But Ellie didn't know about the scar kids and Abby didn't know what Ellie was up to until Owen and Mel are dead. Every single one of Abby's friends who die, we've already seen how they die so it's hard to really care about them or try to put any effort into getting to know them. They just did a bad job on everything to do with Abby's part of the game, and Laura Bailey carries her and is the only saving grace.
In terms of a standalone game, I had no problem with Ellie or Joel, I thought their parts were fine. Tommy was wasted as I said, Jesse was kind of wasted. And I think it would have been cool if Ellie and Nora had to work together in the bottom of the hospital and if there was a choice to spare both her and Fat Geralt later in the game. If you don't know who I mean when I say Fat Geralt look him up on youtube. lol
They don't explore Abby's torture or crucifixion much, Lev doesn't even get another line.
2. As a sequel to TLOU:
God it's awful. Ellie and Joel both do really stupid uncharacteristic things. At the end of the game Ellie isn't even really a likable person anymore. They sucked out every drop of innocence that was still in her blood stream. They made Joel and Tommy seem like novice morons with zero street smarts or survival skills. They paced the game in a way where of course you're going to hate Abby and Manny and then later they try to get you to care about them even though even Naughty Dog doesn't care about Manny because he's not talked about after his death.
5.5/10 as a standalone game, 2/10 as a sequel to TLOU. Only part I genuinely liked as a sequel was the birthday dino park flashback. Abby is redeemable in a vacuum where TLOU doesn't exist. But in terms of a sequel to TLOU, she is an invader and a home wrecker and she needed to die. Actually in my play through Ellie kept assassinating her in the theatre. Which wouldn't have been an unsatisfactory ending. Better yet, throw her off a cliff before Joel dies and then turn off the game. This game is so depressing from start to finish and has no payoff.
Two things the writers did very well were the basic dialog and banter as well as Ellie's PTSD. The game should have ended immediately after Ellie's PTSD flashback in the sheep barn. That would have redeemed almost everything. It was the highlight of the writing. The best plot decision the writers made was having Ellie lose her first fight to Abby.
Overall 4/10 story.
Gameplay: Much better than the first game. Great customization, gunplay, level design, and new enemies. I liked the dogs and the splodey boys, and the dodge mechanic makes combat a lot more engaging. I give the gameplay a solid 9/10. It's polished just like the rest of the game, other than the writing unfortunately.
OVERALL: I give TLOU a solid 8/10. It is a fun and engaging video game. It's obvious that a lot of love was put into it. It's storytelling is a clumsy disaster that just fell into a pit with clickers and had no way out. With a competent story this would be one of my favorite video games of all time. As it stands it's just a guilty pleasure and I'll be trying out new game plus soon after I do a playthrough of TLOU1.