The 2020 Game Awards winners were officially announced last Thursday. Supposing you weren’t too busy playing Cyberpunk 2077, you may have seen some exciting trailers and premieres. As well as the awards are given to developers for all their hard work and labor through this bizarre year. Simultaneously, there were a few big surprises and triumphs, from Among Us winning big to No Man’s Sky comeback win over Fortnite. There was plenty of exciting moments to go around. However, the show’s most significant award belonged to The Last of Us: Part II. Depending on how you felt about the story, it would make you upset or kiss your physical copy of the game. Speaking of story, TLOU2 also earned awards for “Best Narrative” and “Game Direction,” along with four more awards.
You can say a good year for the team at Naughty Dog. However, despite its numerous accolades that night, many people disagree, especially for the best narrative and best female performance. I point these two awards out because this is where things get highly debatable amongst the fans. Many believe the story was terrible for some questionable choices. Most of those choices involve the new character, Abby. This is where the divide between critics and player voices happens. The game’s critical reception is positive, while the user scores are negative. Does it really deserve Game of the Year?
*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Why The Uproar?
Abby is controversial because, despite being marketed as an Ellie only story, the game diverges into two parts: Ellie’s story and Abby’s story. Both have similarities and differences from one another. However, Abby is most hated because, well — she kills Joel. A brand new character kills our lovable protagonist of the first Last of Us game, and now we have to play as the murderer. Yeah, it certainly did not go well for some of the fans. That alone fueled a fire for some fans of the series, crying out against the narrative made by Neil Drunkmann and his team. Fans even went as far as sending death threats to Abby’s voice actor, Laura Bailey.
Some would argue that the narrative favors Abby more than other characters in the story. Some would say Abby is an excellent addition to the overall plot of revenge and survival. It’s ultimately up to you and how you interpret the story’s direction. In my own opinion, I was not a massive fan of the narrative. I am not saying I did not like Abby, but I felt the story’s whole structure could have been better. However, I would say that despite the narrative, the game was an incredibly well-made game with immersive gameplay, graphics that push the PS4 to its limits, and unforgettable moments.
Critics – Should They Matter?
When discussing The Last of Us: Part II as a “Game of the Year” contender, it’s mostly due to its critical success. Which many reviewers, including ourselves here, gave it a positive reception. However, many fans would disagree with this favorable reception, which is fine. You don’t have to agree with what anyone says about the game. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. But there are things to clear up about critic review “myths” circulating the internet. One popular theory is that the developers pay reviewers to give favorable reviews. Well, if you believe that, then you would have to prove evidence against those claims. Yes, reviewers can receive early review copies of the game, but these arrangements do not guarantee a positive review.
The primary job of a critic or reviewer is to give your honest opinion about a game. Regardless of the copy of the game was given or brought with their own money. The developers are well aware of that. Many reviewers get the early copies of the game and give less than favorable reviews despite this, because, well, that’s what they are supposed to do. Integrity has to be the strongest suit of any writer on a public platform.
Also, discrediting critics for this notion is just as flawed. You don’t have to agree with them. However, to call them out or falsely accuse them of fake or paid reviews is merely wrong. Believe it or not, critics are simply gamers with a platform. That’s it. It becomes more a job in hindsight, given they have to analyze the game while playing. From personal experience, I was a regular gamer with no platform at all. However, KeenGamer has allowed me to give my opinions and showcase them to you, the audience reading this. I would also encourage you to have your arguments even if it goes against mine. Heck, have you seen the comment section of the “Why Exclusivity is Ruining the Future of Gaming“? Plenty of people disagreed with what I said, and that’s perfectly okay.
Player Voices – Should They Matter?
When asking this question, the answer is yes. Player voices are vital to games’ success just as much as the critics. Trust me, your voice is being heard, and developers are listening. The most recent example is Cyberpunk 2077 and its horrific release with bugs, glitches, and performance issues on base consoles. The studios are listening to the outcry of its fans. That’s why you see updates to the game. Studios take audience receptions very seriously. I can guarantee that Naughty Dog listened to the reception of their game as well. Does it change anything? Well, unfortunately, no. You can’t merely update a well-established story. DLC, maybe? Just ask Bioware. (Ahem, Mass Effect 3.)
As a result: the Game Award’s “Player’s Voice for Game of the Year,” which was Ghost of Tsushima. However, if you are someone who observes the Metacritic user scores, you have to be aware of the trolls. You know the people who give a score of a 0 and probably never played the game. That’s where the problem lies because they do exist. They are not extraterrestrials or urban legends. They are everyday people that log in posting negative things on the internet for fun. I would question this, however. How can people discredit critics who took the time to play the game from start to finish but willing to agree on a user score plagued by trolls that probably never touched the game? Does the user score garner more credibility if that’s the case? That’s a question that you may want to explore.
Does The Last of Us 2 Deserve “Game of the Year?”
It depends on who you ask. Many people will defend this game for its narrative choices and those who will condemn it. However, in my opinion, you have to play the game to earn credibility. Many people have probably seen YouTube videos of someone else playing the game because you want to “save money”, but there is a big difference. When you play a game, you can feel the immersion and emotions that can’t be replicated on a stream or gameplay video.
There is probably a different approach within the game that may differ from someone else. I would encourage anyone to try the game out yourself. If you have and you were unsatisfied with your experience, then you have a valid argument. However, this doesn’t mean that you are right or wrong. It’s just your opinion, and you are entitled to one, just like the critics.
What do you think of The Last of Us: Part II? Does it deserve a “Game of the Year” award or not? Please leave your comments below.