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Last of Us: Part 2 Retrospective Review (Spoilers!)

Jesse Hoyt

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Almost a year later, I want to talk about the Last of Us 2 again and revisit it to see if I’ve softened up on it or maybe even changed my mind. I was heavily critical of the Naughty Dog title when it was first released citing a somewhat weak story that featured obnoxiously hamfisted themes. The story and characters were disappointing and didn’t do much to make me attached to them except out of spite for other characters like Abby. Of course, I was in love with the gameplay and the graphics which is why I still regarded it as a decent game, but nothing special outside of graphical capability. Now I’ve played through another time, without all the hype and toxicity between diehard fans and those who hated it. What do I think now? Find out in my (re)review of The Last of Us: Part 2!

The Bloater in the Room: Story

I have almost definitely softened up a little bit on the story aspects of the game and I can see what they were going for, but the story arcs don’t quite stick the landing for me. It’s dark and depressing with characters almost constantly moping about, aside from flashback sequences (which are very well done). The mood of the game can get pretty grating after a little while; you just get a little exhausted after dealing with it for a few hours. Don’t forget the Last of Us 2 can last over 25 hours for a single playthrough! That’s over a full day of unbridled violence and brutality paired with gruesome character deaths and scores of highly traumatic emotional damage to characters. 


On my first playthrough, I was upset by Joel’s death, playing as Abby then Ellie again, fighting nearly to the death and subsequently letting Abby go free. This time I just didn’t really care that much about it. Joel’s death was unsettling, but I wasn’t surprised; I was just disappointed. Ellie and Dina’s relationship was mediocre and I wasn’t sure if I ever really “bought it.” After seeing Ellie’s relationship with Riley from Left Behind, I was left wanting something more genuine and maybe a little bit slower-paced. I mean who tells someone they love them after 3 days? Dina almost seemed like a plot device whose sole purpose was to be the parallel of Mel. Aside from that, I kind of like Dina, Jesse, and Tommy. 

The most surprising thing was that I didn’t mind Abby too much on my playthrough this time, at least during the second half of the game. She came off as relatively personable and likable if you’re able to separate her from the fact that she murdered Joel at the beginning of the game. Her relationship with Lev still isn’t at Ellie/Joel levels, but I didn’t hate having Lev around. The fact that I found Abby less awful this time made the game much more bearable. I still really disliked her friends though. They seem pretty cookie-cutter, aside from Owen who is still kind of like a “free-spirit template,” and a cheater. Their deaths were lacking in any impact except a very pregnant Mel. It was disturbing and used as a kind of gross plot device for Abby to mirror later. 

Overall the story still really misses the mark for me. Ellie letting Abby go was a huge misstep in my opinion, and not because I wanted her to die. If Naughty Dog wanted to tell a compelling story about revenge, then they should have followed through and made Ellie a true villain by following in Joel’s footsteps from the first game. Make Ellie go through with her plan and solidify the effects of a murderous rampage and revenge. She didn’t kill Abby and still suffered severe consequences. There’s definitely a bunch of different ways for the story the build and conclude, but Naughty Dog made their decisions. It worked for some people, but not for me.

Thinking critically about it brings out a lot of the negatives, but while playing through it again I didn’t perceive these as terrible choices, just different than I would have preferred. The basis works for me; I just didn’t love the execution. The previous score for the story was a 3.5/10 for me, but I’m upgrading it to 5/10 since I’m able to see past my own initial outrage now and find Abby semi-likable as well.

Gameplay and Graphics

I won’t spend too much time here because we all know that The Last of Us: Part 2 has incredible graphics and lush, detailed environments that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. This game is like a treasure trove for screenshots. Facial animations were great and characters were beautifully rendered. Although mildly uncomfortable to talk about, the gore was pretty brutal but skillfully animated and detailed which just layered on that dark atmosphere. 


The combat is smooth, simple, and pretty basic. It’s just your run-of-the-mill third-person shooter with exceptional animations and graphics. The shooting was satisfying as was melee combat. Stealth is definitely improved from the last game but is still a little bit lackluster. The worst part about the gameplay was the looting. I just hated doing it. It was boring and time-consuming. I’d wager that thoroughly looting all areas of the game tacks on at least a few hours to the total playtime

The New Verdict

The Last of Us: Part 2 has some great moments with beautiful environments, brutal combat, and wonderfully rendered characters, but suffers from lackluster storylines and characters that serve almost entirely as plot devices instead of being fleshed-out like real people. 

6.5/10


After turning away from professional cooking, I refocused my efforts on something I love: writing. I can’t get enough of it. Copywriting, content writing, novels? Count me in. I have quite an array of writing interests, but right now I’m loving gaming and virtual reality, and I can’t wait to do more.

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PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X: Spec Comparison

Jesse Hoyt

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It’s time to ask the age-old question once again. Which is better PlayStation or Xbox? The console wars have been raging on for the better part of two decades. We could argue about the user interface, customizability, price, and exclusive games, but today we’re here to look at one thing: technical specifications. 

CPUs

The CPU (or central processing unit) is essentially the “heart” of a gaming console. In short, what it does is execute vital calculations to run apps and games. It’s a necessary component and the most important as well. 


The Xbox Series X receives the edge in this category. Both consoles feature processors with Zen 2 microarchitecture, but Microsoft has opted for a 3.8GHz variant which essentially means that the Series X can run smoother and faster. In short, it has really great performance.

PlayStation isn’t too far behind though. They went ahead and outfitted their new console with a 3.5GHz processor. You’ll still get solid performance, and truth be told, you probably won’t notice too much of a difference.

Still, the Series X will beat PlayStation in benchmarks and FPS (frames per second).

GPU

Graphics processing units are used to accelerate graphics rendering. They’re a specialized processor that are extremely important when it comes to video games and other graphically demanding applications like video editing software.

Again, the Series X has the edge on paper. They have utilized a 12 TeraFLOP GPU which means surprisingly not too much as far as comparisons go. In fact, the Xbox One has more TFLOPs than the Xbox Series S, but the latter offers much better performance. This is possible because it’s more so about how the system uses the GPU power.


PlayStation features slightly less at 10.28 TFLOPs. Xbox has a statistical advantage, but PlayStation’s practical application beats Xbox by utilizing a variable clock speed. As a result, PS5 can operate at 2.23 GHz while Xbox is locked at 1.825.

The win goes to PlayStation this round.

Storage and Memory

As far as RAM goes, the PS5 and XBSX are identical with 16 GB of RAM for both consoles. 


One of the biggest debates going on between fans of both consoles was about the SSD or solid-state drives of each console.

The Xbox Series X features a 1TB SSD. The Xbox One had a 500GB version as well as a 1TB version. One terabyte is a pretty good amount of space and should hold plenty of games, especially with the lack of new games coming to next-gen consoles.

The PlayStation lacks the same amount of space with a respective, but lesser 825GB storage device. There’s plenty of space, but it just doesn’t stack up to the new Xbox. 

But if you’re a PS5, don’t fret. The PlayStation 5 absolutely smokes the Xbox Series X when it comes to retrieving files and loading games. It’s akin to the instantaneous start-up of older “plug-and-play” consoles. Theoretically anyway, since comparisons have shown that performance is pretty similar which has become somewhat of a trend in this console generation.


If we’ve learned anything this generation, it’s that these consoles are both pretty powerful and strikingly similar. The real test is going to be the console exclusive titles.

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The 5 Most Disappointing PlayStation Games We’ve Played

Jesse Hoyt

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PlayStation has had plenty of hits but is no stranger to absolutely dropping the ball occasionally. This list is a collection of games that were on PlayStation (not exclusives) that really made you feel like you wasted your money. They’re not all complete trash, but they definitely missed the mark, mislead fans, or were actually downright bad.

5. Killzone: Shadowfall

It’s not a real console launch without an overhyped game release that somewhat tarnishes a well-regarded series. Shadowfall just didn’t feel quite right. It was missing a decent story. It was fine for what it was but nothing worth coming back to. Shooting and movement also felt…less than ideal. It was a pretty slow and unsatisfying mixture of gameplay elements. Although, Shadowfall did have some incredible graphics for the time.


4. The Order: 1886

The Order 1886 is another PlayStation exclusive guilty of one of the worst gaming sins you can think of: it’s boring. You’ll find clean graphics and a thick ambiance, but that’s about it. These elements put a little gleam on monotonous and soulless levels accompanied by uninspired gameplay and a mediocre story that cuts off as soon as it looks like anything of merit would come up. The graphics were what was holding it up, but now as we move into the PS5 era even those couldn’t be a reason to revisit this title. 

3. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness

We had to reach way back in the vault to bring this game up. The Angel of Darkness came out almost 19 years ago and I still have the bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth. This time around the story wasn’t a problem. The graphics were fine too. But the controls? Unforgivable. The response was insanely slow and made for a game that was way too difficult as a result of these terrible controls. That’s not even mentioning the camera, which might as well have been actively working against you as you made your way through the game.

2. Duke Nukem Forever

This was supposed to be an epic comeback for Duke Nukem, but like many other series reboots, this game fell flat. It seemed stuck between trying to be modern and old-school at the same time and it just didn’t pan out. The humor was just not great and made me want to mute the game sometimes. It’s just corny and obviously not adapted well to how comedy has evolved. With that said, it’s not horrible to play all the way, but it’s not worth picking up in the first place.

1. Cyberpunk 2077

Well, who didn’t see this coming? This is easily the most disappointing game of the generation. It might even be in a couple of “all-time” lists. People were promised so many insane features and incredible depth. Instead of a solid RPG representing the tabletop game, we had an extremely lackluster game that was completely broken on PS4 and Xbox One. It was incomplete, a mess, and borderline unplayable. It was such a shame that the dev studio went from the Witcher 3 to this.

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The Best Indie Games on PlayStation in 2021

Jesse Hoyt

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Everyone loves a good independently developed game here and there. Some have even become some of the most well-regarded games of all time. These games can be surprisingly well polished and full of heart and the best part is that there’s no shortage of them on PlayStation. Read on to see the best indie titles PlayStation has to offer(in no particular order).

5: Hotline Miami 1&2

The Hotline Miami series is a frenetic top-down shooter with buckets of blood with an intense, droning electronic soundtrack. Pink and light blue hues fill your screen as you play as a mysterious hitman that takes out his foes with a variety of weapons and different rubber animal masks. The pixelized art style lends itself well to this excellent game. The sequel was pretty much on par with the first as well. 


4. Hades

If you’re looking for a polished rogue-lite, Hades is your game. It’s filled with deep lore and smooth gameplay that makes you want to play over and over again. You find yourself playing as Zagreus, the son of Hades, trying to find your way through the underworld to get to the surface. Each character is fleshed out with unique dialogue options after each death. There’s plenty to do in Hades like unlocking weapons and upgrading abilities to fortify you for your next run.

3. Return of the Obra Dinn

Pirates, insurance agents, and a murder mystery. What else could you want? Return of the Obra Dinn has you, the player, become a pirate ship insurance agent trying to deduce what went down aboard the Obra Dinn. This is a game full of discovery and one of the best investigative games you can play right now. 

2. Disco Elysium

It might not be the game for everyone, but what it set out to do, it achieves with panache. You’ll find yourself in the dilapidated city of Revachol investigating the lynching of a mercenary tasked with controlling union protests. The only thing is that you don’t really know who you are to start out. You’ll discover your identity and beliefs as you play this philosophically intense RPG. Be ready to read though since this game has about as much reading as a small novel.

1. The Outer Wilds

No, not the Outer Worlds. This is an indie game about exploring space and discovering how an ancient race of aliens lived and died out, on the surface anyway. There’s not a game out there that quite captures the wonder of space travel and horrifying ways you can go out. Every 22 minutes, you restart just to do it all again, or maybe you go somewhere else to learn something new. Just try to piece it all together. The beauty of this game isn’t just on the outside, it’s mirrored with a barebones narrative, but an extremely poignant message of doing things just to do them. You won’t find something nearly as touching, at least for a very long time. Well maybe until the expansion coming out later this month!

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