Eenuh

Last of Us Part II

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Spoiler

Violence: In one of the first gameplay trailers, Ellie appears to behead a defenseless man with a machete after shooting several arrows into his chest, which I remember thinking was a bit gratuitous at the time. Partly because it seemed qualitatively more graphic than the first game, and partly because it seemed out of character for Ellie to be needlessly violent against a random person who she felt no personal animosity towards. I don't know if you can still perform that action in the final game, or if they removed it, but if it is still in the game I feel like it's probably a bit too much. So I accept that there are lines to be drawn around violence, and everyone has their thresholds. I guess it comes down to a personal gut reaction that's hard to articulate or rationalise - what makes one violent act more permissible/palatable than another? You either have the stomach for something or you don't. However, let's say for the sake of argument that the machete-beheading isn't in the game: can we really say there's anything in Part 2 that's more gruesome than the original? (the killing of a pregnant woman perhaps, but even that is done in reflex/self defense)

Really though, I think people are forgetting how violent the first game was. There's cannibalism for one - human limbs literally being chopped off on camera - and the scene where Ellie kills David by repeatedly shanking him in the face with a knife, blood spurting out everywhere... for me that was more brutal than anything in Part 2. You could argue the visual leap makes things a bit more gruesome in Part 2 but it was pretty realistic to begin with. For me, I just found the in-game violence hilarious. Not because it was comedic, or because I'm a psychopath (I hope) - I was laughing more out of admiration for the design and the visceral impact it had on me. The game puts you through things - it's intense, it gives you adrenaline, it challenges you, it makes you feel drained - and the violence plays a key part in that. So when I get flustered, fuck up, and get my head stomped in, or when I split someone in half with a shotgun blast at the end of a gripping encounter, I laugh at the brilliance of the craft. On a technical/emotional level, it's just fantastic. I've said this before but I feel like gamers get so caught up with mechanics and controls, and other back-of-box features (and whether these are implemented well or not), that they forget to describe how games actually make them feel. What games are like as an experience. For me that's where The Last of Us shines. 

This isn't to brush away criticisms. For me the core gameplay loop of looting (soooo much looting) and shooting is a bit shallow when stretched over a 20-30 hour playtime. NaughtyDog definitely improved some aspects of this but it could've been improved further. Then again, it's important to manage expectations. A big-budget game like this is a product at the end of the day, so I didn't go in expecting them to revolutionise the combat. @Shorty - I understand what you mean about the excess amount of enemies, and how it makes encounters overlong, but the serial killer problem is baked into the series at this point. Dropping the number of enemies you kill by 20% would still make you a serial killer. The only way to get around it would be to pit you against 6-7 enemies over the entire game, and make each kill hyper-intense, drawn out, and justifiable in context. Maybe that would make for a fun game in a different franchise. Maybe keeping the kills to a minimum would be more in-tune with the characters' motivations as they're depicted in cut-scenes. But as a game, it wouldn't be The Last of Us.

The point about ludonarrative dissonance - or the conflict between a game's narrative elements as told through the story vs through the gameplay - is kind of an interesting theoretical topic, but it's a feature of the medium I just take as a given at this point. That feeling of dissonance is stronger in games that are realistic, dark and immersive (like TLoU) but it's present in all narrative-driven games. When you're in control of a character, the gameplay decisions you make can undermine how that character is depicted in a cut-scene. This is the pact all narrative-driven games make. If you want to be part of the action, there's a necessary trade off in narrative consistency/logic. But anyone who's ever enjoyed a game realises the trade off is worth it, and so we periodically block the dissonance out. If we dick about in the environment looking for collectibles when the story is telling us we should be on the run, for example, or if we die and instantly respawn, we know that it doesn't make a lot of logical 'sense', but we see past it. This happens in games all the time. 

The Last of Us Part 2 makes a point of confronting you with the above dissonance in a creative way. It builds your relationship with two characters by making you live in their shoes - it humanises them and makes you understand their motivations. Then it puts you in control of one character in a fight to the death with the other. One of the reasons you feel conflicted/experience dissonance during these encounters is that you've witnessed both of their journeys and become emotionally invested in both. Logically it's an impossibility - nobody in the game universe itself could have the knowledge you have about both characters, but you're in the privileged position of an omniscient player. That brings with it a weird/inexplicable/heavy kind of responsibility. The decision as to who lives and who dies is seemingly in your hands, and only you know the full picture. But of course the story isn't in your hands, because YOU are not Ellie, and YOU are not Abby. You are playing AS them, in a way that, ideally, more-or-less reflects their motivations and the way they behave in the narrative. While you may control both of them, ultimately this is their story and they have their own motivations to kill each other. What would it mean for you to decide, while you're playing as Ellie, that you won't press square to kill Abby? Ellie does want to kill Abby, after all. You might not want to, but it wouldn't make sense for Ellie to stop attacking just because you have a preference. And that's where the catharsis comes in at the very end when Ellie decides to take mercy. You as an omniscient player have learnt that Abby is worthy of empathy, and that her actions can be understood, and so it's a relief when Ellie comes to to the same realisation as you (even though she hasn't had the benefit of an insight into Abby's life). 

The thing is, this kind of meta point about the relationship between player and character is nothing new - hell, it isn't even new for this series - but it is nevertheless powerfully explored in this game. Placing you in a position where you have to push a button to kill a character you like is a neat way to add drama and drive home the thematic points of the story. The inner conflict you experience in those encounters mimics the conflict experienced by the characters themselves. Do either of them actually want to kill the other. What would be gained by it? It doesn't necessarily make a lot of logical sense to be given the illusion of control in such a scene, but as I've been getting at, narrative-driven games are always going to run into these kinds of logical inconsistencies. If we can overlook other logical inconsistencies that are baked into games, then we can overlook this one too, and instead appreciate what's been added because of them.

As I mentioned though, this isn't new for the franchise. In the first game you have no option but to kill the doctors who are operating on Ellie. Now if you wanted, it'd be perfectly valid to criticise this scene on the grounds that it isn't in keeping with Joel's character. Personally I think it does make sense given the context of the situation, and Joel's overriding love for Ellie. However, I think it's harder to argue that you should have the agency to save the doctors. I'd hate for The Last of Us to have multiple endings depending on the values you project onto the characters at any one time. The story is the story. If you want open ended stories, there are RPGs for that. There are pros and cons to both forms. (Sorry if this sounded combative - I'm not suggesting you were making all of the above criticisms)  

///

- Pacing was an issue, as has been raised. While I think the main beats of the story were generally phenomenal, as were the performances in the key scenes, the structure of the game was off. When you get to the theatre stand-off, you expect the cliff-hanger to be resolved after a couple of short missions with Abby. But you end up playing as Abby for half the game. I wouldn't have minded so much if this was signposted somehow, or if the structure had been reworked to make it less frustrating. As it was, it felt like I was playing through Abby's missions just to get back to Ellie's story. I warmed to Abby's story, but it did drag a little since it felt like the stand-off scene was close to the end. Going back and forth between the aquarium and other locations in this storyline (e.g. Lev's island village) were where things went south pacing-wise.

- Conceptually, the fight in the theatre with Ellie was really cool in the way she used her full range of weapons and skills. It was definitely broken though. When she started putting down the mines, I managed to throw a bottle at her as she opened her rucksack. I then ran up and punched her, staggering her into her own mine. This then blew up, initiated a death animation scene for Abby, and then immediately cut to the actual scene where you win the fight and spare her. Other parts of the fight were broken as well. Contrast to the fight with David in the first game, where everything seemed to work fine.

- The first fight with the stalkers was great. The way the stalkers hide reminded me of the trick used in MGS4, where an enemy ducks out of sight as soon as you aim at them. Not as scary as the fight in Resident Evil 4 with the dogs in the maze, but still tense as fuck.

- The guitar scenes were great. The scene with Joel at the start in particular, but I also loved the optional one in the open world section. Serenading a lesbian lover with an acoustic version of Take on Me was an experience I didn't know I needed.

 

Overall the game does have lots of flaws, but my main take away is that ND pulled off the really ambitious story stuff they set out to achieve. Fair play to them.

 

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Ah, man. "Too long, didn't read" = Johnny 5: need input. At least acknowledge what I said about the HBO series. 🤔

Nah, I am kidding. But still! 😜

Why do people moan so incessantly about the game's theme? "OMG. They did this and this and this! Meh, I hate Naughty Dog! I won't buy their games from now on. It hurts. Now I cannot go on. The self-destruct sequence begins in 0.5 seconds." 🐕

It's not supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows for these characters. It's a harsh world full of death and chaos where every hour could be your last (or last of us - ha). Plus, it's just like a certain famous TV show that does the same concept, VERY WELL, mind you. Or what about films, games and books that have used the same premise over and over again for years? Oh my God. Use your brains (directed at the haters only) because you have one for thinking. 🤭

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I'm starting this tonight. Looking forward to it. :grin:

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Posted (edited)

All the best, Fierce_LiNk.

Will you be broadcasting online? :cheeky:

Edited by CrowingJoe79
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7 hours ago, CrowingJoe79 said:

All the best, Fierce_LiNk.

Will you be broadcasting online? :cheeky:

Haha, noooo. I don't go for live streams. I've got @Eenuh watching me play it, as she has recently finished it, so I do feel like that part of "going through the game with another person" is already fulfilled. :laughing:

This game is soooooo beautiful, though. Gorgeous game. Even the first two minutes had me gawking at how pretty everything is. Loving it, so far.

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Finished it last Wednesday, took just under 29 hours in total. Absolutely amazing game which looks incredible on the Pro.

Lost count of the number of times I just stopped for a few minutes to take everything in.

Held off on my second playthrough until I had played the first game and Left Behind again.

Hopefully we have some DLC around the PS5 launch

Spoiler

Tommy's days in Seattle perhaps?

 

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Sadly Naughty Dog have said already that there will be no DLC for this game.

However......

They are working on a stand alone version of Factions (The multiplayer game from the Last of Us 1).

I'm hoping it's ready for PS5 launch.

Vintage James Franco GIF - Begging JamesFranco Freaksandgeeks GIFs

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I think Naughty Dog stated there would be no DLC. That's a pity, as I think they originally intended to include a multiplayer mode. I don't know if they meant the overall game, or just the battle mode type gameplay that was in the first one. But co-op in this type of game, if done properly, would be so peachy. 😎

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Finally finished the other day too. So much to chew on. What an epic! What a videogame!

 

Ultimately found it a really interesting and rewarding experience - I've been enjoying finally getting to read through all the spoiler tags and writing about the game elsewhere online (Also had a little look at the LoU2 sub and instantly bailed out - what a bunch of nutters).

 

Feels incredibly reductive to boil this game down to upsides and downsides BUT to spare y’all a massive essay...

Spoiler

 

+ The direction of this game is so incredible, so cohesive in it’s tone despite how the narrative jumps about, the music is so beautiful, some of the settings are so stunning; the sky-bridges, the snow, the mist, the use of pitch black and torchlight, the burning village - the details of every poster or graffiti on the walls, how every bedroom tells a story of the person who lived there.. I can't think of a videogame that matches this; not just technical craft but imagination, mood, and specificity of world building

+ Acting is all incredible across the board - I thought it was remarkable how much Troy Baker stole the show given such limited time on screen - the flashback interactions with between him and Ellie were so beautifully realised, and I really feel they were essential to the game’s structure paying off

+ Typically ridiculous naughty dog set pieces. The boss fight with the monster from Inside, and the unexpected car section were highlights for me. You guys?

+ Generally felt all the core gameplay loop was really entertaining - actually unlike you guys I found I was able to sneak through a lot of sections by the end - often killing one or two out of ten or so guards; making distractions, crawling through grass, running back to hide when spotted, or full on legging it through the ends of some sections (Only issue there being it felt like I was skipping content!)

+ Generally thought the Abbey section was really excellently done after a bit of a sense of ‘I have to do it all again??’. (Also amazed I didn’t get that spoiled, aside from crowingjoe basically blurting it out. Cheers mate.) Anyway, it massively opened up the scope of the game; seeing the details of how the wolves were living in the stadium through overheard conversations and environment design, playing with the good dogs.. loved it. Thought she was an interestingly written, flawed, and unusual protagonist that just about mixed up the gameplay enough to keep things interesting (also as someone who gets bad vertigo - v convincing). Can't really think of an equivalent in gaming of playing with perspectives, and the back and forths really expanded the game beyond a simple revenge story for me

 

- The choice thing that @Shorty and Dwarf mentioned was really interesting to me.  As Dwarf says, I think it's impossible to tell the kind of story they were telling whilst maintaining player agency (especially keeping in mind that it recently came out that in Mass Effect only 10% of players made renegade choices). So I’m fine with lack of choice - however! I really felt like the game felt broken in the big moments where you’re made to keep hammering square - beating up Nora, I stopped pressing square and Ellie just kept breathing awkwardly - attacking Abbey, I stopped pressing square like Shorty and was killed. Had a similar experience in the original game too. Making the player complicit in the brutal actions falls pretty flat when there’s no player choice to do anything else - I’m not sure the answer to this, but I wonder if just having a non-interactive cutscene would have worked better for those sections, making it clear that it's Ellie's (and Abbey's) story rather than the player's.

- I rewatched the scene you mentioned in the original game @dwarf and do actually the level of violence is quite different - you see Ellie smashing David’s face in but the shot is framed so that you only see Ellie and her reaction rather than the actual gruesome outcome. It’s also remarkable how graphics have come on, rewatching that clip having just finished 2. I found myself understanding why there is so much violence given the kind of meta-story they tell, but also feeling that I could have seen 40% less disgusting moments of violence and still have had a similar effect. There’s something uncomfortable about this being a game that sells millions of copies - I’m sure not all players are going to be thinking about why the devs show the level of violence that they do and what that’s there for.

- Felt like the sections that worked best and were the most memorable were the flashbacks and the quieter moments - the amazing museum and aquarium visits, the Synagogue, every scene with Joel. Toward the end the combat sections were starting -just starting - to feel a bit arbitrary and dull and samey, by contrast - I do think there could have been a few combat scenes with humans cut from the game - especially as the clicker sections provide an easy route out / alternative to the videogame-protagonist-as-serial-killer thing. On narrative dissonance - it only seems odd at points here because the game is so unusual in actually engaging with that concept (similarly to David's chat in the original)

- The epilogue felt pretty mishandled to me. Ellie’s motivation was hard to get onboard with throughout the game but felt just about believable - but leaving Deena, wee baby and the idyllic farm didn’t, for me. Actually I found it remarkable how similar this all was to the ending of another recent AAA game which I won’t name for spoilers - I felt that game's epilogue felt a lot more natural and less rushed. I also felt like the final scene with the guitar was way too on the nose and didn’t work at all.

- Some of the parallels between Abbey and Ellie were waay too on the nose!

 

 

Overall I’ve spent so much time thinking about this game that, though I’m not yet sure where I ultimately land, I’m really glad it exists, that Naughty Dog have taken so many risks and unusual choices, and ultimately pushed the medium forward narratively - and for all the bits I found distasteful or punishing, it's been ages since I've been so continually keen to get back to my ps5 after work and play more. Whew.

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You mean the PS4, right? ;) 

I reckon Naughty Dog will release a separate 'factions' game. Ala, something a lot like the mercenaries mode in the RE games that got its own game eventually through high demand...

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Posted (edited)
On 13/07/2020 at 6:34 AM, CrowingJoe79 said:

You mean the PS4, right? ;) 

I reckon Naughty Dog will release a separate 'factions' game. Ala, something a lot like the mercenaries mode in the RE games that got its own game eventually through high demand...

Lol why are you passing this off as a prediction? NaughtyDog said they'd release a multiplayer game based on the Factions mode from the original. Seems highly unlikely that you'd pluck the word 'factions' from thin air. Very odd.

On 12/07/2020 at 7:40 PM, dan-likes-trees said:

Finally finished the other day too. So much to chew on. What an epic! What a videogame!

 

Ultimately found it a really interesting and rewarding experience - I've been enjoying finally getting to read through all the spoiler tags and writing about the game elsewhere online (Also had a little look at the LoU2 sub and instantly bailed out - what a bunch of nutters).

 

Feels incredibly reductive to boil this game down to upsides and downsides BUT to spare y’all a massive essay...

  End game spoilers (Hide contents)

 

+ The direction of this game is so incredible, so cohesive in it’s tone despite how the narrative jumps about, the music is so beautiful, some of the settings are so stunning; the sky-bridges, the snow, the mist, the use of pitch black and torchlight, the burning village - the details of every poster or graffiti on the walls, how every bedroom tells a story of the person who lived there.. I can't think of a videogame that matches this; not just technical craft but imagination, mood, and specificity of world building

+ Acting is all incredible across the board - I thought it was remarkable how much Troy Baker stole the show given such limited time on screen - the flashback interactions with between him and Ellie were so beautifully realised, and I really feel they were essential to the game’s structure paying off

+ Typically ridiculous naughty dog set pieces. The boss fight with the monster from Inside, and the unexpected car section were highlights for me. You guys?

+ Generally felt all the core gameplay loop was really entertaining - actually unlike you guys I found I was able to sneak through a lot of sections by the end - often killing one or two out of ten or so guards; making distractions, crawling through grass, running back to hide when spotted, or full on legging it through the ends of some sections (Only issue there being it felt like I was skipping content!)

+ Generally thought the Abbey section was really excellently done after a bit of a sense of ‘I have to do it all again??’. (Also amazed I didn’t get that spoiled, aside from crowingjoe basically blurting it out. Cheers mate.) Anyway, it massively opened up the scope of the game; seeing the details of how the wolves were living in the stadium through overheard conversations and environment design, playing with the good dogs.. loved it. Thought she was an interestingly written, flawed, and unusual protagonist that just about mixed up the gameplay enough to keep things interesting (also as someone who gets bad vertigo - v convincing). Can't really think of an equivalent in gaming of playing with perspectives, and the back and forths really expanded the game beyond a simple revenge story for me

 

- The choice thing that @Shorty and Dwarf mentioned was really interesting to me.  As Dwarf says, I think it's impossible to tell the kind of story they were telling whilst maintaining player agency (especially keeping in mind that it recently came out that in Mass Effect only 10% of players made renegade choices). So I’m fine with lack of choice - however! I really felt like the game felt broken in the big moments where you’re made to keep hammering square - beating up Nora, I stopped pressing square and Ellie just kept breathing awkwardly - attacking Abbey, I stopped pressing square like Shorty and was killed. Had a similar experience in the original game too. Making the player complicit in the brutal actions falls pretty flat when there’s no player choice to do anything else - I’m not sure the answer to this, but I wonder if just having a non-interactive cutscene would have worked better for those sections, making it clear that it's Ellie's (and Abbey's) story rather than the player's.

- I rewatched the scene you mentioned in the original game @dwarf and do actually the level of violence is quite different - you see Ellie smashing David’s face in but the shot is framed so that you only see Ellie and her reaction rather than the actual gruesome outcome. It’s also remarkable how graphics have come on, rewatching that clip having just finished 2. I found myself understanding why there is so much violence given the kind of meta-story they tell, but also feeling that I could have seen 40% less disgusting moments of violence and still have had a similar effect. There’s something uncomfortable about this being a game that sells millions of copies - I’m sure not all players are going to be thinking about why the devs show the level of violence that they do and what that’s there for.

- Felt like the sections that worked best and were the most memorable were the flashbacks and the quieter moments - the amazing museum and aquarium visits, the Synagogue, every scene with Joel. Toward the end the combat sections were starting -just starting - to feel a bit arbitrary and dull and samey, by contrast - I do think there could have been a few combat scenes with humans cut from the game - especially as the clicker sections provide an easy route out / alternative to the videogame-protagonist-as-serial-killer thing. On narrative dissonance - it only seems odd at points here because the game is so unusual in actually engaging with that concept (similarly to David's chat in the original)

- The epilogue felt pretty mishandled to me. Ellie’s motivation was hard to get onboard with throughout the game but felt just about believable - but leaving Deena, wee baby and the idyllic farm didn’t, for me. Actually I found it remarkable how similar this all was to the ending of another recent AAA game which I won’t name for spoilers - I felt that game's epilogue felt a lot more natural and less rushed. I also felt like the final scene with the guitar was way too on the nose and didn’t work at all.

- Some of the parallels between Abbey and Ellie were waay too on the nose!

 

 

Overall I’ve spent so much time thinking about this game that, though I’m not yet sure where I ultimately land, I’m really glad it exists, that Naughty Dog have taken so many risks and unusual choices, and ultimately pushed the medium forward narratively - and for all the bits I found distasteful or punishing, it's been ages since I've been so continually keen to get back to my ps5 after work and play more. Whew.

 

Spoiler

@dan-likes-trees

Highlights:
Ellie:

- Open world section. I thought/hoped there'd at least be one more section like this in the game but what was there was a welcome change of pace (especially enjoyed the Take on Me cover. *don't think I've mentioned this?*). In fact, the daytime city areas with Dina were generally my favourite sections, partly because I didn't feel so uptight playing them! I remember a large area dotted with shops which led to fun player vs human vs clicker fights. Fair play for sneaking through some sections without killing everyone - I got roped into scouring for the majority of collectables, mostly because I didn't want to miss out on upgrades or story notes. Unfortunately, due to the greater number of paths that take you from A to B in this game, there were also far more nooks and crannies for items to hide in, which completely kills the pace if you want to do a thorough search. I wish I hadn't been so anal about finding everything in hindsight. I feel like if you want to find the hidden stuff, the best option is to drop every single enemy before retreading the environment. Not exactly fun, but the game discourages other approaches.

- The Joel hotel (?) section mostly because of the way the guy puts his foot through everything. Straight up slays. Makes you remember how much of a bad-ass protector you were when you played as him 7 years ago IRL.

- Museum, specifically the space takeoff scene. Less sold on the aquarium part but that was probably down to it being one of those on-the-nose parallels you mentioned.

- First stalker fight as mentioned.

- The dance cutscene (along with the other scenes I mentioned in my previous post) - I could only vaguely remember watching it in the trailer from years ago, but it comes at a perfect point in the story.

- Best combat sections in the game were in Hillcrest. Scraping through those dog patrols on your own with low health and ammo *chef's kiss*. 
 

Abby:

- The early horde chase with Abby. Thought there might've been more sections like this, but the first chase really caught me off guard. ND do a great job of drawing your eye in the right direction without making you feel like you're being dragged along by a string.

- Stadium. As the GameSpot lads pointed out, that so much time was put into an area you pass through in a few minutes makes it all the more special. (And as Druckmann said, certain optional elements like the Take on Me cover *can't recall saying how fucking LIT this bit is?* have a similar effect - knowing you could've missed them makes you appreciate them more.) In the Breath of the Wild thread I mentioned the importance of little mechanics like the weather effects - they don't necessarily drastically change the way you play the game, but they nevertheless add texture and make the world feel that extra bit more... ahem... immersive. In the same way, it's the love and care that goes into the details in TLoU2 - like the posters as you mentioned, and the sheer number of unique assets generally - that makes this game stand out.

- Unintentional highlight: the bit where you scale a building with Manny, and you're meant to use the same rope to abseil through a hole in the roof. I heard Manny say, 'that's a long drop,' but I couldn't immediately see how to get down without just jumping in. The incongruity of seeing Abby plummet and faceplant to her death, having just made it through a really tense section, really made me cackle my nut off.

- The Shortcut - was probably my favourite Abby mission - slow burn with neat interactions with Lev. Verticality, jumping about, exploration etc.

- You're right about the hospital monster (i.e. the Rat King) - got completely bodied by that cunt a couple of times. The brutal death animations definitely make you want to avoid repeat mistakes. Also, having to dodge the fucking dog thing when you try to get some distance from the Rat was a brilliant touch.
 

////

Won't harp on about the narrative dissonance stuff for too much longer, I promise, but since you brought it up: I agree the Nora/Ellie/Abby moments don't work perfectly, especially if you run into a fail state by refusing to comply. However, I feel like the game would've lost out on something if it didn't make those scenes interactive. I guess one part of my brain went through the motions of following the prompts because I knew there weren't going to be multiple winning paths that would continue the story. Even though I entered those moments with that knowledge, with that game logic mindset, I still found myself slowing down with the button presses during fights because the weight of the interactions/desperation of the victims was so grim. So in that sense the interactive element did pay off for me.

There were situations where I only pressed a button a couple of times, and the game didn't trigger a fail-state, but maybe I got lucky where you guys didn't? (e.g. I might've avoided a fail state by pressing square just one more time than you did, or I might've refused to press square in a situation where there wasn't actually a fail-state to trigger)

If you trigger a fail state by refusing to fight Abby at all at the end, I kind of feel like that's fair/to be expected. If you trigger a fail state by not pressing to drown Abby at the climactic moment, that's perhaps less fair. I wouldn't want to be asked to explain why I think that though.

///

Ellie's motivation - yeah I think it was hard to get on board with from quite early on in the game actually. You end up accommodating it in order to enjoy the rest of the story, because there is genuinely some great stuff going on elsewhere. Better to run with the logic even if it isn't that logical.

///

I'd be interested to know what you thought was more violent than the David scene - that made me wince more than anything in this game, even with the framing aspect you mentioned. In fact, the closest thing to that was the Nora torture scene, and they employed the same camera angle. Granted, you actually play a role in the Nora scene, but still not convinced the difference between the two games is that big. Tonally, the major difference is that Part 2 leans more heavily into Ellie's psychopathy. On paper, Joel does things that are equally atrocious, it just doesn't cast him in such a compromising light. Willing to concede the possibility I'm underplaying the differences/misremembering things though.

///

One of my main takeaways was: even though I don't consider myself a diehard fan of the series, or over-invested in the characters, when I finished Part 2 I felt sadder than I expected to. Crept up on me for sure.

 

Edited by dwarf

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I don't know why that needs its own game anyway. The first game had that as an extra mode. I also thought the second game was meant to have co-op from the start, which was what I was alluding to.

Spoiler

Giving how often a NPC was with Ellie and Abby, such as Dina, Joel and Lev, they would have been as well to have added that in. It would have been brilliant playing with another player against the various groups such as the WLF, the Rattlers, and so on. Maybe the baddies could be playable too, such as those in Resident Evil 6 are, although made to be much weaker than the main characters are. Even several RE games have had co-op in a way that is so engaging with a companion. I just think in some sense, it was a missed opportunity that maybe they can capitalize on later on the PS5...

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Neil Druckmann posted this on Twitter in September last year:

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I'm guessing they would've had to delay the game well into PS5 territory if they wanted to include the multiplayer mode, which was probably financially untenable. When asked about the game in recent interviews Druckmann mimed his mouth being zipped, so it's presumably still in the works.

As for Part 2 having coop from the start - did a guy in an internet video tell you that or did you make it up? 

I'd probably play a NaughtyDog game that was built with co-op in mind, but then again I'd play practically anything they came up with. Bolting it onto TLoU would've been a waste of development time. As soon as you introduce another player into a narrative driven game like this, you detract from the connections you make with your companions, which should feel intimate. Having your friend run around as Dina, guns blazing, sprinting ahead to pick up all the loot before you do, would completely ruin the experience. Your companions in this game tend to you, ask you how you're feeling, set the tone and pace, set your expectations about what's coming next (e.g. a period of reflection or a tense fight), and spontaneously react to and interact with objects in the world. All of that collapses when your mate Steve takes control.

Resident Evil was built with co-op in mind, and it's a fun action series for what it's worth, but you don't come away feeling like you've bonded with your companion. Now that's as much to do with the dreadful writing as anything else, sure, but it's also to do with the lack of meaningful interactions you have with them during gameplay aside from shooting zombos in the face.

Edited by dwarf
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Posted (edited)

Don't take it personally - that's just how I react to bad takes and dishonesty. :hehe:

Edited by dwarf
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I'm about 8 or so hours into this and am having an absolute blast. The gunplay in this is sublime. :love:

Spoiler

Hnnnnnnngggg. I would still be playing this now if I didn't need sleep. What a game.

Graphically, stunning. Naughty GODS, indeed.

The gameplay is brilliant. I love the "prone" position and the ability to crawl along the ground. I had an AWESOME moment yesterday where I was on Seattle Day One, just after your horse gets killed. I was making my escape and was on a building rooftop. Went into the prone position to hide underneath some structures. WLF guys walk past me. I shoot one of the leg until he falls down and then head shot him. The other WLF guy pulls me out from the structure, and I dodge their attack and bludgeon them in the face with my iron bar thing.

Hnnnggggg.

I love the openness of Seattle. Really fun exploring and picking up supplies, but also it just seems like a huge area to cover. They've given you a good sense of scale in this sequence and it genuinely does feel that you are exploring a huge city. I'm having a wicked time with it. :D:love::bowdown:

 

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This game is about 25 to 30 hours long. Days Gone is still way longer. It took me 2 weeks to play through that. They both deserve Game of the Year awards, so make it happen, Naughty Dog! 

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The soundtrack for this game is immense. 

Spoiler

I started Seattle day 2 yesterday and got to the section just before you find Jesse. You make your way through the houses, tall grass and fighting your way through tons of WLFs. The track that played along at this point was IMMENSE. Quite Hans Zimmer-esque, tense as fuck.

The combat is just great. I love going into the prone position and using my silencer to take out a few and then laying down mines. I tend to keep the molotovs for the clickers/shamblers, but I was tempted to use a few of these. In the end, I used the mines and just laughed maniacally as they were blown to shit.

Loved the car chase bit. Nice use of their Uncharted influences there. :love:

Basically, the game is fucking great. Struggling to see what the criticisms are for...or maybe I just haven't come across them yet.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/13/2020 at 10:59 PM, dwarf said:

 

 

  Spoilaaaz (Reveal hidden contents)

@dan-likes-trees

Highlights:
Ellie:

- Open world section. I thought/hoped there'd at least be one more section like this in the game but what was there was a welcome change of pace (especially enjoyed the Take on Me cover. *don't think I've mentioned this?*). In fact, the daytime city areas with Dina were generally my favourite sections, partly because I didn't feel so uptight playing them! I remember a large area dotted with shops which led to fun player vs human vs clicker fights. Fair play for sneaking through some sections without killing everyone - I got roped into scouring for the majority of collectables, mostly because I didn't want to miss out on upgrades or story notes. Unfortunately, due to the greater number of paths that take you from A to B in this game, there were also far more nooks and crannies for items to hide in, which completely kills the pace if you want to do a thorough search. I wish I hadn't been so anal about finding everything in hindsight. I feel like if you want to find the hidden stuff, the best option is to drop every single enemy before retreading the environment. Not exactly fun, but the game discourages other approaches.

- The Joel hotel (?) section mostly because of the way the guy puts his foot through everything. Straight up slays. Makes you remember how much of a bad-ass protector you were when you played as him 7 years ago IRL.

- Museum, specifically the space takeoff scene. Less sold on the aquarium part but that was probably down to it being one of those on-the-nose parallels you mentioned.

- First stalker fight as mentioned.

- The dance cutscene (along with the other scenes I mentioned in my previous post) - I could only vaguely remember watching it in the trailer from years ago, but it comes at a perfect point in the story.

- Best combat sections in the game were in Hillcrest. Scraping through those dog patrols on your own with low health and ammo *chef's kiss*. 
 

Abby:

- The early horde chase with Abby. Thought there might've been more sections like this, but the first chase really caught me off guard. ND do a great job of drawing your eye in the right direction without making you feel like you're being dragged along by a string.

- Stadium. As the GameSpot lads pointed out, that so much time was put into an area you pass through in a few minutes makes it all the more special. (And as Druckmann said, certain optional elements like the Take on Me cover *can't recall saying how fucking LIT this bit is?* have a similar effect - knowing you could've missed them makes you appreciate them more.) In the Breath of the Wild thread I mentioned the importance of little mechanics like the weather effects - they don't necessarily drastically change the way you play the game, but they nevertheless add texture and make the world feel that extra bit more... ahem... immersive. In the same way, it's the love and care that goes into the details in TLoU2 - like the posters as you mentioned, and the sheer number of unique assets generally - that makes this game stand out.

- Unintentional highlight: the bit where you scale a building with Manny, and you're meant to use the same rope to abseil through a hole in the roof. I heard Manny say, 'that's a long drop,' but I couldn't immediately see how to get down without just jumping in. The incongruity of seeing Abby plummet and faceplant to her death, having just made it through a really tense section, really made me cackle my nut off.

- The Shortcut - was probably my favourite Abby mission - slow burn with neat interactions with Lev. Verticality, jumping about, exploration etc.

- You're right about the hospital monster (i.e. the Rat King) - got completely bodied by that cunt a couple of times. The brutal death animations definitely make you want to avoid repeat mistakes. Also, having to dodge the fucking dog thing when you try to get some distance from the Rat was a brilliant touch.
 

////

Won't harp on about the narrative dissonance stuff for too much longer, I promise, but since you brought it up: I agree the Nora/Ellie/Abby moments don't work perfectly, especially if you run into a fail state by refusing to comply. However, I feel like the game would've lost out on something if it didn't make those scenes interactive. I guess one part of my brain went through the motions of following the prompts because I knew there weren't going to be multiple winning paths that would continue the story. Even though I entered those moments with that knowledge, with that game logic mindset, I still found myself slowing down with the button presses during fights because the weight of the interactions/desperation of the victims was so grim. So in that sense the interactive element did pay off for me.

There were situations where I only pressed a button a couple of times, and the game didn't trigger a fail-state, but maybe I got lucky where you guys didn't? (e.g. I might've avoided a fail state by pressing square just one more time than you did, or I might've refused to press square in a situation where there wasn't actually a fail-state to trigger)

If you trigger a fail state by refusing to fight Abby at all at the end, I kind of feel like that's fair/to be expected. If you trigger a fail state by not pressing to drown Abby at the climactic moment, that's perhaps less fair. I wouldn't want to be asked to explain why I think that though.

///

Ellie's motivation - yeah I think it was hard to get on board with from quite early on in the game actually. You end up accommodating it in order to enjoy the rest of the story, because there is genuinely some great stuff going on elsewhere. Better to run with the logic even if it isn't that logical.

///

I'd be interested to know what you thought was more violent than the David scene - that made me wince more than anything in this game, even with the framing aspect you mentioned. In fact, the closest thing to that was the Nora torture scene, and they employed the same camera angle. Granted, you actually play a role in the Nora scene, but still not convinced the difference between the two games is that big. Tonally, the major difference is that Part 2 leans more heavily into Ellie's psychopathy. On paper, Joel does things that are equally atrocious, it just doesn't cast him in such a compromising light. Willing to concede the possibility I'm underplaying the differences/misremembering things though.

///

One of my main takeaways was: even though I don't consider myself a diehard fan of the series, or over-invested in the characters, when I finished Part 2 I felt sadder than I expected to. Crept up on me for sure.

 

Spoiler

Yeah I actually think the way the game encourages collecting every last thing (and how a lot of it reduces down to clipping-along-a-wall-waiting-for-the-item-prompt-to-pop) is one it’s bigger 'failings'. The game does such a great job of making it just about possible to stealth past sections (love how they usually end having to open a loud clunking door that takes a few seconds whilst everyone suddenly realise where you are) and there it feels most natural and real, but it’s always tempered by the nagging sense that you’re missing cool shit.

By the end I’d kind of worked out the ‘language’ of the game in the sense that they make it somewhat clear what sections just have resources (ie skippable) and which have story stuff / collectibles / notes and missable items. Definitely the best approach would to be to do one playthrough totally naturally and then a second trying to uncover everything, but aintnobodygottime for playing such a grim game twice in quick succession!

 

Same thoughts as you with the dance flashback. The interaction with Joel there really made the whole game work for me (in the sense that Ellie’s lust for revenge seems as much about her frustration that her last years with Joel were spent or were wasted hating him than necessarily just that he died). The acting from everyone in that scene was beaut.

LOVED the stadium (and playing with doggos). Also jumped right down that hole in the roof, lol.

Re - narrative dissonance - Yeah I think you’re pretty spot on, see what you mean with the fine line on what seems fair and unfair to ‘fail’ the player on too. The balance of player input in those those cutscenes is so tricky to get right especially when it comes down to splitsecond hesitation.

Re - violence - Yeah I did think of the Nora scene whilst writing that, but I guess it’s partly in the buildup - David is shown to have gone a bit mad, it’s at the end of a fight, it seems more instinctive (ie right after he has you pinned to the ground) whereas the Nora is shown to be a more human character, it comes at the end of you specifically tracking her down, chasing her, and then the player is made to be more complicit in what’s ultimately torture of a dieing woman for information, rather than killing-or-be-killed.

In general though it was more the kills of random grunts that got me (also having to see horrible gore every time Ellie/Abbey died - not sure I needed that, esp. on hard mode). Defo had the same kind of instinctual laughing reaction to some of the kills (MK style), but the insane fidelity felt soo brutal in other places. There was one bit where one of the random grunts was like ‘come closer.. (I did) I want you to look me in the eyes (I did)’ and then over a few seconds bled out and collapsed in front of me. On the one hand - amazing, spontaneous, natural - on the other hand, not sure what any of that stuff is reeaally there for asides from hammering home that this world is brutal and violence is cyclical, which it already does quite enough of

Also though, hard to say what I’ve misremembered from the original too - plus I played this game with my partner watching some of it, in contrast to playing the first on mu own, which probs made me more atune to that stuff and why it’s in the game.

Great hearing everyone's thoughts on the game. Finding myself talking more about things I didn't like or wasn't sure of just as that stuff is all quite interesting, so would like to confirm that I thought it was fucking brill.

Keep us updated on your progress @Fierce_LiNk - it's about where you are that the game starts to get a bit more divisive in peoples opinions, so would love to hear your blow-by-blow thoughts!

Edited by dan-likes-trees
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1 hour ago, dan-likes-trees said:
  more end of game spoils (Hide contents)

Yeah I actually think the way the game encourages collecting every last thing (and how a lot of it reduces down to clipping-along-a-wall-waiting-for-the-item-prompt-to-pop) is one it’s bigger 'failings'. The game does such a great job of making it just about possible to stealth past sections (love how they usually end having to open a loud clunking door that takes a few seconds whilst everyone suddenly realise where you are) and there it feels most natural and real, but it’s always tempered by the nagging sense that you’re missing cool shit.

By the end I’d kind of worked out the ‘language’ of the game in the sense that they make it somewhat clear what sections just have resources (ie skippable) and which have story stuff / collectibles / notes and missable items. Definitely the best approach would to be to do one playthrough totally naturally and then a second trying to uncover everything, but aintnobodygottime for playing such a grim game twice in quick succession!

 

Same thoughts as you with the dance flashback. The interaction with Joel there really made the whole game work for me (in the sense that Ellie’s lust for revenge seems as much about her frustration that her last years with Joel were spent or were wasted hating him than necessarily just that he died). The acting from everyone in that scene was beaut.

LOVED the stadium (and playing with doggos). Also jumped right down that hole in the roof, lol.

Re - narrative dissonance - Yeah I think you’re pretty spot on, see what you mean with the fine line on what seems fair and unfair to ‘fail’ the player on too. The balance of player input in those those cutscenes is so tricky to get right especially when it comes down to splitsecond hesitation.

Re - violence - Yeah I did think of the Nora scene whilst writing that, but I guess it’s partly in the buildup - David is shown to have gone a bit mad, it’s at the end of a fight, it seems more instinctive (ie right after he has you pinned to the ground) whereas the Nora is shown to be a more human character, it comes at the end of you specifically tracking her down, chasing her, and then the player is made to be more complicit in what’s ultimately torture of a dieing woman for information, rather than killing-or-be-killed.

In general though it was more the kills of random grunts that got me (also having to see horrible gore every time Ellie/Abbey died - not sure I needed that, esp. on hard mode). Defo had the same kind of instinctual laughing reaction to some of the kills (MK style), but the insane fidelity felt soo brutal in other places. There was one bit where one of the random grunts was like ‘come closer.. (I did) I want you to look me in the eyes (I did)’ and then over a few seconds bled out and collapsed in front of me. On the one hand - amazing, spontaneous, natural - on the other hand, not sure what any of that stuff is reeaally there for asides from hammering home that this world is brutal and violence is cyclical, which it already does quite enough of

Also though, hard to say what I’ve misremembered from the original too - plus I played this game with my partner watching some of it, in contrast to playing the first on mu own, which probs made me more atune to that stuff and why it’s in the game.

Great hearing everyone's thoughts on the game. Finding myself talking more about things I didn't like or wasn't sure of just as that stuff is all quite interesting, so would like to confirm that I thought it was fucking brill.

Keep us updated on your progress @Fierce_LiNk - it's about where you are that the game starts to get a bit more divisive in peoples opinions, so would love to hear your blow-by-blow thoughts!

 

Spoiler

It feels like we're more or less in agreement on most things. But I have ONE MORE THING I AGREE ABOUT which I forgot to mention before:

Abby - I feel like they managed to make her a genuinely interesting character. It could've easily felt like they were simply trying to avoid all cliches, or other character archetypes in the game, by making her really fucking weird. But they wrote someone who was on the one hand hench, resilient and cynical, but also vulnerable, emotional (albeit in a repressed way), and joyful. Her relationship with Owen is fairly unique for videogames - so much of their affection is communicated non-verbally, or is only semi-expressed. The dynamics shift back and forth in the way Abby tries to win him over silently/passively as he leads her on, only for her to eventually turn him down on principle (because of Mel's pregnancy). It's an extreme act of self-denial on her part, but the story doesn't dwell on it. It's only when Owen dies that you really feel the pent up emotion pouring out of her.

At least the two of them boned, eh?

I guess much of the description above could be applied to Ellie as well, but I agree with Yahtzee's assessment that Ellie and Dina were too similar to make their partnership that interesting. The differences from what I could make out were that Dina was bisexual and slightly less blood-thirsty, which is to say very minor.

 

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I'm around 18/19 hours into this game now.

Spoiler

Really enjoying the range of gameplay and locations. Quite enjoyed the chase scene with Nora and also liked the boat section, which had the potential to be annoying. It seems like Naughty Dog have perfected that balance where they've kept the survival aspects of the Last of Us with some other characteristics from the Uncharted games to add some variation, and it comes off big time. Really like it.

Completed Seattle Day 2 and did the section for (I think it's Day 3) where Jesse gets killed. Boooo, was growing to really like him, but that's only going to further Ellie's thirst for vengeance. The bit at the aquarium where she killed the pregnant Mel and Owen was grim...nice to see the traumatic effect that this is having on Ellie, including how she reacted after the torture bit with Nora.

I've started Abby's section for Seattle Day 1 and am enjoying her story, thus far. LOVE the side-by-side story and also with the details about her father being the doctor that Joel killed at the hospital. It's really tied in with the first story nicely and has used that as a good starting point for the plot of this game. 

The game feels much bigger and longer than the first, with more variation of things to do. I'm enjoying using the mine and the FUCKING EXPLOSIVE ARROWS!!!! which are just great. I did one section yesterday and the day before where I lured a few Scars into an area and then used the explosive arrows to obliterate them. @Eenuh voiced her displeasure at that. "I only really used those for infected, because it's gross on humans...:shakehead:laughing:

 

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Spoiler

So is it true that Abby was originally supposed to be black? Some people say the reason her father looks like a black man in the operating room is just due to the PS3's lighting at the time.

Can someone reply to this post?

 

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2 hours ago, CrowingJoe79 said:
  Reveal hidden contents

So is it true that Abby was originally supposed to be black? Some people say the reason her father looks like a black man in the operating room is just due to the PS3's lighting at the time.

Can someone reply to this post?

 

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Finished this game in the early hours of this morning.

Basically, I loved it.

Spoiler

Man, what a ride.

I'm still trying to work out exactly what the issues are that people have been having with the content of this game. Sure, it's brutal at various points, but...it's the apocalypse. It's pretty grim at time, but I didn't have any issues with the game tonally and I loved the overall story that this game told.

First off, the introduction for this game is gorgeous. Graphically, this is such a beautiful game and Naughty Dog should feel insanely proud at the technical brilliance of this. It's a marvel to look at and there were numerous points where I just had to stop to look around, even in some of the not-so-pretty areas. My favourite overall location was the farm at the end of the game, particularly with that gorgeous sunset. 

I had no problem whatsoever with Joel's death, because it was essential to the plot and there was absolutely no way that his actions in the first game could not lead to anything but severe consequences later down the line. It made sense and I thought the game did a fantastic job of making you empathise with Abby's decisions throughout. Obviously, you've got the parallel with Abby and Lev compared to Joel and Ellie in the first game, which I think the game just about got the balance right with in terms of how often those parallels were drawn, without it being too much like a flashing sign.

Loved the openness of Seattle in various areas. Generally, I thought this game took the various ideas from the first game and built upon them in this. The areas felt bigger and more alive in places. I particularly loved the initial stages of Seattle where you were able to roam freely, as it seemed like there were tons of things to spot and see. There were a nice variation of locations despite the subject matter so that it didn't become too repetitive to look at. That hospital section was great, except for that fecking bossfight as Abby! Only bit of the game that I didn't really enjoy, but the rest of the area was fantastic.

There's a lot that can be said regarding the structure of the game. It's a fairly meaty game. I wouldn't personally consider it bloated or too drawn out, because I would consider the Abby sections essential so that the gamer can empathise with her decision making and it makes some of the events of Ellie's story a bit more meaningful. For example, I now look back on the Mel and Owen death scenes and feel much more guilty than I did before. It's a grim scene to begin with, but it has much more impact after Abby's story.

After completing it, I wonder if something could have been done with alternating the story, so Ellie Day 1, Ellie Day 2, Abby Day 1, Abby Day 2, or something along the lines. Thinking back, I'm not so sure if that would have been any better, and it maybe would have fragmented the game too much. 

I really like the numerous characters that we see within this game, particularly the addition of Abby, who is very well fleshed out. Lev and Yara were good additions in Abby's storyline and I did enjoy that whole stretch of game where Abby and Lev tackle that descent, which I found pretty daunting at the time. Loved that skybridge bit beforehand, too! 

The bit at the island when the shit starts to go down is brilliant. Loved riding the horse through that "battle" and I thought the game captured those moments really well. That island section could have been a drag and a non-entity, but Naughty Dog handled it well enough to make it interesting and quite exciting in various places.

Quite enjoyed the ending at Santa Barbara, too. Again, had the potential to feel useless, but I thought it was handled well enough to make it a satisfying conclusion to the game. Throughout the fight with Abby, I was just muttering to myself about Ellie, thinking "What are you actually doing?!" Glad to see that in the end, she decided to spare Abby and it showed development for her character.

The ending at the desolate farmhouse was great. Obviously parallels can be drawn about the farmhouse and Ellie both being desolate and empty and the part where she was unable to play the guitar as well due to her missing her fingers was great and, again, well handled. It's the type of ending where you just want to curl up into a ball at the end and weep, which I imagine is what Naughty Dog were aiming for. 

Overall, I love this just as much, if not more than the first game. It felt meatier, had a great story and built upon the foundations that made the first game so well received. I do think that if Part 2 is about revenge or vengeance, then Part 3 will be about Redemption for Ellie, in order to bring her story around full circle. It's open enough where Naughty Dog can go in numerous different directions with it. 

I will definitely be replaying this at some point, maybe in a year's time, which is what I did with the first game. I'm happy that I've played and experienced it and feel honestly drained after completing it, but in a good way.

 

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