A few hours into my playthrough of The Last of Us Part II, I was struck by the incredible level of effort that had gone into the game's creation.The motion capture was the best I'd ever seen; the voice acting and facial animations were the most compelling I'd ever seen or heard, lending an unmatched level of nuance to the cutscenes; the audio was fantastic; the music was always perfectly on point; the story was bold; the characters were, by and large, well realized; the gameplay, while mostly unremarkable, was a marked improvement over that of its predecessor.
TLOU2 was the first game to make me appreciate the impact of technology on gaming as a storytelling medium. The tech that Naughty Dog had developed for the game was a big contributor. Naturally, not every animation could be mo-capped, so Naughty Dog developed new tech to blend mo-capped animations together in a more realistic manner. This had the effect of immersing me quite effectively in the game world.
The voice lines and detailed animations of the human and canine enemies made me feel an aversion to killing them in a heretofore unprecedented manner. I would eventually grow sick of all the murder, opting instead to sneak and run past encounters whenever possible, even if it meant potentially missing out on useful items. Games like Spec Ops: The Line and Undertale had already made me not want to kill my enemies, but those games had done so primarily through dialogue, narrative, and user interface.
The music fit what was happening on screen whenever it appeared, enhancing the experience. In calm moments, it added serenity; in sad moments, it added deep melancholy; in angry moments, it added primal rage.
The voice acting and facial capture produced the most convincing performances I'd ever seen. Ashley Johnson, Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, and others came to life wearing suits of polygons. Minor expressions were able to imply meaning in ways that spoken dialogue would've had to directly state, resulting in some of the finest visual storytelling I'd yet seen.
With all this in mind, I was certain that the game would be nominated for every possible category it could qualify for, and likely win the majority of then, including the coveted title of Game of the Year. Having just watched the nominees be revealed for The Game Awards 2020, I'm pleased to see that others share my thoughts on the matter.
There will undoubtedly be many unsubstantiated rumors that the awards are rigged, as there were last year when Death Stranding was nominated for — and won — most of the categories it qualified for. With Cyberpunk out of the picture due to delays, the only game I can see taking GOTY over TLOU2 is Hades.
What are your thoughts on the matter of TGA 2020, particularly with regard to TLOU2?
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