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A New American Novel for a New American Century P.3

I try and live by a few simple rules. One of them is this; nine out of every ten people you meet will be stupid. You’re an honest person if you know that every once in a while, you’ll be one of the nine.

It doesn’t say much about the rest of humanity and shows my contempt for most others but it has served me well over the years. And now, looking and listening to the fallout from the thoughts and reviews of The Last of Us Part Two, I know my rule stands and some of you have proven it true once again.

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I’m genuinely perplexed at some of the hate being generated by the game, some of its characters and especially the vile words/threats made to some of its creators and even actors.

Seriously; WTF are some of you thinking?

I know most of you reading this are not those people, and I am asking rhetorically but, really, I just want to know why anyone thinks it’s ok to threaten the life of anyone involved in this game because you didn’t like it.

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Just to help you and everyone out, here is what TLOU2 is all about; complex and dynamic interpersonal relationships.

It’s not about outbreak day or zombies/fungal people or running around collecting loot and shooting people. Those are all incidents and actions you must take in order to survive and function with others in the world and in your life. Either by choice or circumstance, in the universe that is TLOU, you have people to deal with. How you deal with them and get by is the object of the game.

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It seems that most disgruntled players are upset that THOU2 wasn’t a daddy daughter fairy-tale between Joel and Ellie that had a happy ending. Boo fucking Hoo for you.

TLOU and Part 2 strives to be amongst the most ‘real’ video games ever produced. For the most part and better by a country mile than most, it succeeds. The nit picking is incredible at times: One scene that stands out for me is in the Court House garage where Ellie and Dina eventually get the gas for the generator at the ‘Fuck FEDRA Gate’.

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During that scene Ellie grabs the Jerry can from her backpack and proceeds to fill it from the large tank. On screen she only takes 2 seconds to fill it and all of the You Tubers commented that she should be filling it longer and getting more gas. This is so odd to me as most players are trying to hurry things along, sometimes getting annoyed at having so many question mark locations showing up on the map, but you want it to take longer to ‘fill’ the Jerry can?

TLOU set up the main characters of this universe and Part 2 takes the next logical steps in that story and their relationships. The end of TLOU clearly shows that Ellie had doubts about Joel’s explanations regarding the Fire Flies and the whole hospital incident. Part 2 plays those doubts out, revealing the truth and the consequences from those decisions and the actions around those incidents.

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Most great and memorable literature throughout human history is about exactly that; I repeat the complex and dynamic interpersonal relationships between people. The decisions they make, how they affect the world and the people in their world and the consequences of those actions and decisions.

If Abby and her crew didn’t come to town or they did turn back as Owen suggested they might after seeing Jackson for the first time, what would the story be? Put yourself in Abby’s shoes, we know why she’s there now and her motivations but when we first meet her you might think it would be the smartest and most prudent move to leave Joel there and alone and move on with your life. That’s logical, right?

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So then what? Joel, Ellie and the rest of the citizens of Jackson slowly clear out the state of Wyoming and living happily ever after? Then TLOU2 would be just a looter shooter and honestly, there are more than enough of those already to keep us entertained.

The Lat of Us and Part Two are epic stories filled with interesting characters, situations, and consequences. Just like any great novel of the past 500 years or more. Let’s examine some of those aspects.

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The idea of the hero living long enough to become the villain.

It’s been suggested that Ellie is the villain in Part 2, not Abby. At the least it can be thought that both characters arc pass one another on their way to replacing each other at the opposite ends of the scale. Good old Ellie, on the side of justice, out to avenge to wrongful slaying of Joel at the hands of Abby, the wicked witch of the west, the stone cold killer. Come on be honest, didn’t you say to yourself when she killed Joel, ‘come on Ellie, kill that bitch!’

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It just isn’t that Joel is dead; he’s been violently tortured and battered to death in a gruesome and bloody manner. Hatred fills our hearts and prompts and actual physical response in us. This is part of the reason I think games like this, are the new form of novel that are a completely new level of storytelling. It’s the visuals, the sounds and user participation that turn this form of storytelling into something new, unique and special.

So is Ellie the bad guy? Yes! In part, for a time but she’s complex like all good characters with flaws. Is Abby the good guy? No! But at times and over time it’s revealed why she did what she did and depending on which perspective you’re looking from, she can be justified and even considered the good guy. She’s complex and flawed.

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People wanted more of Ellie and less of Abby. Abby’s character is way more interesting though and has so much potential to turn her story positive while Ellie, although we love her, is set in stone and we know who she is and what she’ll do. The room for growth lies in Abby, therefore her character arc is higher with more potential from a story standpoint.

I had and still have some concerns about the potential hidden messages in Abby however. Her whole appearance is questionable. Not the muscles, it’s her dress and accoutrements that for me have a white supremacy vibe about them.

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Her trade mark braid seems to be a favorite or somewhat common in neo Nazi circles for women. The black bomber jacket is also a hallmark staple of the white power movement. The one that really set off alarm bells though was the flashback with her father. That whole outfit, especially the brown shirt just screamed neo Nazi to me. Maybe I’m reading way too much into it and totally wrong but, Neil Druckmann and the entire creative team are perfectionists and every detail of these games was though out and purposeful.

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