As soon as you mention The Last of Us on the internet people either love it or hate it, there is barely an in-between.
The first installment of the series is considered to be one of the best Games ever made but did it age well? One would say yes, it looks amazing for a PS3 Game and the Remaster for PS4 elevated the tech even more but nothing compares to the remake Naughty Dog just launched. But is a visual upgrade with some gameplay adjustments enough?
Find out in this critical review by a – die hard (I need to say that) – The Last of Us fan.
Thank you PlayStation DE for providing a code on launch day, I will however review the game like I would if I would have bought it with my own money. And this is where some of the controversy with the remake already starts; asking for 70-80 Bucks for a game that you probably played through several times now is no easy sell. And I must admit that I probably wouldn’t have gotten it on launch day myself either. Important to mention is however that not only the main game got a remake here but also the small DLC „Left Behind“ which follows Ellie and Riley. That DLC is sold for $10 normally and looks equally amazing in this revision.
Graphics and Performance
Most notable of course is the graphical upgrade; Naughty Dog rebuilt the game from the ground up, with the only things intact from the old game being the original level design, gameplay mechanics to overcome obstacles (i.e. boosting Ellie up, rolling a trash container to go up somewhere, ladders etc.), cutscenes (while updated), voice over and music.
The jump in fidelity is flat-out insane, it is now on par if not exceeds the visual quality of Part 2 which makes it one of the best looking first party title Sony has put out yet. If you played Part 2 you will recognize assets like cars and decals (if you that type of person that looks way too close at that stuff like me). There are WAY more physical objects in every scene including much more foliage than the original game. But honestly I don’t really wanna talk and gush about the graphics because you can see that for yourself in the screenshots I took throughout my first Playthrough of Part 1 and provided in this Review.
I also uploaded all the Photos I took in this imgur album if you need a new Wallpaper: https://imgur.com/gallery/6CIWzRS
The game has essentially three modes: fidelity, performance and for people with a 120hz TV or monitor you can also unlock the framerate. I tested all modes and every mode felt really solid, I am however a high framerate Person so I played in performance mode which essentially runs internally at a dynamic 1440p upscaled to 4K at 60fps. Fidelity looks amazing, but I can’t play games in 30fps anymore, that’s on me though. The unlocked framerate mode was interesting, I played through the intro in fidelity mode with an unlocked framerate which usually hovered around 40fps; still too low for my taste but I reckon the way to play the game for most people if you have the hardware. I never once noticed a frame dip in performance mode, it runs super solid.
I wanna focus more on the gameplay side of things since this is the part that matters for you know – a game.
I was pleasantly surprised that they actually used more tech from Part 2 than I have hoped for. The entire movement system was overhauled, Joel feels much tankier and has momentum. While on the other hand in the small sections you play as Ellie you feel how fast and nimble she is. Weirdly enough it really feels like you play a kid version of the Part 2 Ellie if that makes sense. If you played Part 2 you know how agile and fast she is while in Part 1 you feel right at home playing her but it feels like a lightweight version of her. I absolutely loved zooming through the forest with Ellie, she does sidesteps, catches herself and it overall feels really nice to control.
The shooting feels way better than in the original and is now in a very similar state like in the sequel. If you remember the shootouts in the PS3 Version were janky at best. The workbench from Part 2 is also back and is awesome to use; although I wish you would see more of what Joel is actually upgrading.
I got disappointed that they went so close to the original with some gameplay mechanics though like previously mentioned: ladder carrying, boosting people up ledges, using palettes to get Ellie over water, moving trash containers around to go up somewhere etc.. These kind of things were one my main critics of the original; they had the opportunity to improve in that region with something different but choose not to; thankfully though there is now an option to skip some of those „puzzles“. Still though I would have loved to see a different take on these; even Ellie gets annoyed that she needs to balance on yet another palette.
Also I would have loved to see at least the dodge mechanic from Part 2 back in this game, it would have felt more modern and honestly better. The amount of times I double clicked L1 just to get eaten was not funny anymore because I was so used to it from Part 2. I thought I’d also miss the prone button but while actually playing I didn’t even notice it that it wasn’t there unlike a dedicated dodging action. The level design of the original title is probably a big part of that since it generally provides a lot of cover for the player unlike the sequels which levels are more open. The gameplay in general feels super smooth now and they upped the AI intelligence substantially, they fight very aggressive, flank and storm towards you; everyone playing on Grounded; good luck!
I didn’t feel quite the same with companions though, they still zoom over the battlefield sometimes and get in your way. I also wish they would mirror my behavior in general; for example, I crouch, they crouch, I turn my flashlight off, they do it too, that would have been a nice touch.
Puzzles and collectibles stayed the same as far as I could remember. Although some might be more difficult to find organically if you never played the old versions simply because of the density of the world now. Also I need to mention the accessibility features; Naughty Dog have been on the top of their game when it comes to accessibility, there are so many options that it is frankly a little bit overwhelming, but I appreciate every single option since with every option a person that maybe couldn’t play the game before is now able to. I turned and tweaked some of them myself too, like increased FOV and moved the Camera a bit back as well as keeping the Shoulder Swap and I think some minor things here and there too. The Story is the same you know and love, not much to say here other than it is still a 10/10 Story which makes me cry every time at the same story beats. Although I noticed some small details like working scales if you stand on them, dynamic carpet folds and also actual spit if characters are angry in cutscenes which I… – I guess appreciate.
We didn’t need a remake but I am very glad Naughty Dog did it; one of the best Games of all time is now up to par with it’s sequel modernized and in a extremely good state. It is without a doubt the definitive version of the The Last of Us which leaves the original game in the dust. It looks breathtakingly good, plays smooth and elevates the emotions of the cast with improved and cleaned up Face Mo-Cap. Holding it back from being a perfect game are reused gameplay mechanics that already gotten annoying in the original game. With a plethora of accessibility options, almost everyone can now enjoy the game too; well if you have the necessary change laying around.
The price tag makes it a hard sell for everyone that isn’t a hardcore TLoU fan and already played the original game or the remaster. I think a $60 price tag would have fit way better and Sony should have focus more on mentioning that the „Left Behind“ DLC is also included in this version.
I would have loved to see the Factions Multiplayer make a comeback too but it seems like Naughty Dog has big plans with their Factions 2 standalone game, so I’m really looking forward to that instead.
For everyone who never played the original The Last of Us Part 1 is in my opinion a must have pick-up now. For everyone who played any other version, I can recommend it but you might wanna wait for a discount.