The Last of Us Remastered Review – Somethin’ to Fight For (PS4)
For those that haven’t played The Last of Us, it is a huge, important game. The story steals you and spins your emotions around two characters, grizzled Joel and tween Ellie, who are forced to survive together on an important journey in a post-apocalyptic world. The graphics were impressive in the original, and only get prettier in the remaster. The gameplay still plays smoothly even after I’ve played a long list of more current games to compare it to. The storytelling and voice acting are still largely unrivaled, in my opinion. We gave it a 10/10 when we initially reviewed it, our Game of the Year award in 2013 when it first was released, and even gave the downloadable story content, Left Behind (included in the remaster), a 9.5/10. What I’m trying to say is, if you haven’t played it yet, I urge you to do so, and you should get the remastered version on PS4 if possible.
I fall into the “have already played and paid for The Last of Us on PS3” category. Many people are kind of less-than-excited that this game is being re-released in a “better” version for the PS4 so soon after its initial release on PS3. I was on the fence about it, but I saw where people were coming from. Actually playing the game, however, cleared up any negative opinions I had about the whole thing. One of the main shiny new features of the remaster is that the frame rate targets 60 frames-per-second. I assumed I wouldn’t actually notice a difference between that and 30fps — which you can lock it to in the options. I was very wrong with that assumption, which was a happy surprise.
You could play the game all the way through starting with 30fps instead and you may not notice the difference, but after seeing it at a near solid 60fps, you’ll never want to go back. There is an obvious noticeable difference, and 60fps is beautiful! My eyes were annoyed when I was running around trying to to play with the locked 30fps option on, which supposedly makes the shadows more defined. Honestly, the scenes I enabled it for didn’t have drastically nicer shadows to my eyes, and I would much rather have the smoother motion and graphics with the default 60fps. Having the 30fps option available for gamers who prefer a locked frame rate is really nice though. It speaks to the quality of the remaster, I think.
My favorite new part of the game is the photo mode. It is a genius feature to implement into The Last of Us. I spent a lot of time fiddling with the controls and moving my “camera” around to take shots of what is already a stunning and photographic game. It’s hard to take an ugly shot with this thing. Similar to inFAMOUS: Second Son, you can control a bunch of options for the photo mode like depth of field, dolly position, filter, vignette, brightness, and angle of view. I am really excited to see the outpouring of talented images that will no doubt happen once more people get their hands on this remastered version. It seemed as though the controls for positioning the camera were a tiny bit easier to use than in Second Son, as well.
The use of the PS4-specific features were well done, also. Whenever you turn on your flashlight in the game, your controller’s speaker gives a little tactile “click.” It was so very nice and… well, tactile… that I seriously clicked it on and off a few times just to hear the noise coming from my hands. You also get to hear recordings (a type of collectible artifact found throughout the game) via the DualShock 4’s speakers. That was really nice too, because it was the perfect way to deliver the sound bite from a little speaker in the game via a real little speaker. These parts also included a faint echo from your surround sound or speaker system to give you a cool atmospheric effect much like in Transistor on PS4.
The light bar also glows according to your health level, green through red. I also realized it glows white when you’re in listening mode, which was a perfect effect when playing in the dark, because listening mode is in black and white. The touchpad is conveniently used for access to your backpack, which I felt made it easier to get in there more naturally and quickly during gameplay. All this stuff doesn’t completely repaint the TLOU experience, but it polishes it in a way that brings the game past even the high level at which I held it.
The extras included in The Last of Us Remastered really round out a great, whole-deal package. I honestly wouldn’t have bought the extra maps for online play (I choose to skip online modes usually), but this remaster — plus the the incredible single player DLC, Left Behind, pushed me over the edge, made me fall in love with The Last of Us all over again, and made me not want to leave that world just yet. The inclusion of the extra maps in the Abandoned Territories and Reclaimed Territories DLC packs is just the cherry on top. And if you, too, get all wrapped up in the TLOU world, you’ll be very excited to have the commentary for each of the game’s cinematics with Director/Writer Neil Druckmann, Troy Baker (Joel), and Ashley Johnson (Ellie) at your fingertips, included only in The Last of Us Remastered. Oh, and there’s a documentary included called Grounded: The Making of The Last of Us, as if the rest of the extras weren’t enough already.
There was also a noticeably longer draw distance for the remaster, as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t get so damn turned around and lost in the snow storm scene. Aiming and firing are remapped to L2 and R2 respectively, which was a breath of fresh air during gameplay. Another little bonus, if you played the multiplayer for TLOU on the PS3, you will get a perk (but not a full progress carryover) in the remaster, and all DLC that you have purchased for it will be carried over. This grab-bag of extra polished features helps make the remaster worth the money of buying a whole new version of a game you may have already bought.
I am so glad The Last of Us Remastered was created. I want this game to reach as many people as possible because it still stands as an important cornerstone of modern gaming. Anyone just entering the market with the new PlayStation 4 will be able to experience this incredible game in the perfect package with all the bells and whistles, DLC, and even some extra content. It was silly of me to be anything but thrilled about the idea of another release of The Last of Us so soon after the game initially came out; and playing the remastered version helped me see that. I even enjoyed playing it over again when I used to think The Last of Us held no replay value for me personally.
The bottom line is, I thought this game was very much worthwhile even after being doubtful before I played it. Speaking to those who have already played the PS3 version, if you really loved it back then, I would suggest getting this version for PS4 too. It has a lot of extras and it looks really beautiful with the 1080p, higher frame rate, and updated graphics and character models. To those who are interested in diving into The Last of Us for the first time, what are you waiting for?!? The Last of Us Remastered is just a perfect game made even more perfect.
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