The Last of Us Remastered is finally here, and the buildup to its release was filled with as much anticipation as its first appearance on the PlayStation 3. Featuring upgraded graphics for the PlayStation 4, as well as single-player DLC and the all-new Photo Mode, the developers at Naughty Dog went out of their way to bring value to new and returning players alike. Even so, questions remain for both parties. Is there enough upside to justify a purchase for those who already experienced it, and for those new to the PlayStation family, is the game really as good as everyone says?
New members welcome
While many players both new and old will know the story behind The Last of Us Remastered, there are bound to be those who don't. If you happen to fall into that category, you're in for a real treat.
Following a worn down, middle aged man and a teenage girl, The Last of Us Remastered takes players on an epic journey across a United States that fell apart and was reclaimed by nature. This post apocalyptic tale does a masterful job of not only getting players to care about the main characters, Joel and Ellie, but also the entire supporting cast. Part of this has to do with an incredible script, while equal credit should be saved for the voices of the unlikely duo, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. While it does feature more than its share of heart-pounding action, it's often the quiet, almost insignificant feeling moments that create a bond between the player and the game. As far as single-player campaigns go, it would be reasonable to say this is one of, if not the greatest of all-time.
More beautiful the second time around
For those who already played The Last of Us on PlayStation 3, the question about whether to buy The Last of Us Remastered comes down to what's new, as well as what improvements were made to older features. For starters, what was already a visually stunning game is even more so. The graphics were increased to a native 1080p resolution and a smooth 60 frames per second to give it that true next generation feel.
The enhanced visuals are especially welcome when using the all-new Photo Mode. When activated, this feature allows players to freeze the gameplay, then swivel the camera and turn off the HUD, making for gorgeous images of the post apocalyptic United States. Players can even add filters and borders to further spruce things up, allowing them to capture the experience of this incredible journey.
In addition to the upgraded graphics, returning players who aren't sure if this title is worth a second purchase will be happy to know that Naughty Dog bundled all of the PlayStation 3 version's DLC with The Last of Us Remastered, as well as in-game commentary from the cast and creative director. This includes the Left Behind content, as well as the Abandoned Territories and Reclaimed Territories multi-player map packs. While it may be quite hard to believe, the Left Behind DLC was as well received as the original game!
Thanks for the help, but I got this
Not a lot changed with the gameplay in The Last of Us Remastered, but that was expected. The combat is both beautiful and brutal, featuring a melee system that continues to surprise us more than a year later. Should stealth and guns fail him, Joel will often use his surroundings to neutralise humans and monsters alike, doing things like bashing a Hunter's head off the edge of a desk or even up against a wall. The surprising part about this is how seamless it is. For players, it's as simple as using the regular melee buttons, as well as the occasional on-screen prompt.
While violent encounters are generally an extremely rewarding experience, they do have one downfall, even though its also a benefit. If Joel finds himself in a life or death hand-to-hand combat situation with an adversary, his companion will often try to help out. In some situations, such as when Ellie will stab someone in the back with her switchblade, this is a benefit. Other times, however, non-playable characters just get in the way. Even though it's realistic, players may often find themselves wanting to tell their pals to stay out of it, rather than trip over them while trying to fight off a Clicker.
A true multi-player experience
One feature that is commonly forgotten in The Last of Us Remastered is the multi-player side of things. While it is third-person, the experience is better than expected, but understandably not as popular as its single-player counterpart. It features the Supply Raid, Survivor and Interrogation game modes, while also requiring each individual player to care for their fictitious clan, which is done by playing multi-player matches. Each game played counts as one day, with the goal to help your clan survive for 12 weeks. At the beginning of a match, players will be asked to collect supplies. If that demand is met, the rest of your clan will stay healthy, with any extra supplies gathered going towards recruiting new members. As a cool touch, players can even link their clan with Facebook, giving each of the survivors a name to make things personal.
The actual multi-player gameplay is quite intense, but even with the need to keep your clan alive and healthy, it lacks that hook that will make it a long-term, player versus player option for most. That's not to say it's bad by any means. In fact, by design it is a true team based experience. For example, in the Survivor game mode, players will have only one life per round, and taking out groups of opposition players is a nearly impossible task for a single person. If you happen to be with a group of friends or on a team working together, that's the absolute best The Last of Us Remastered has to offer online. Should you be a lone wolf that doesn't use a microphone, however, you might find yourself logging off rather quickly.
Two more positive points for the multi-player come in the form of well designed maps and a laundry list of character customisation options. On the map side, the terrain is as gorgeous as the single-player, and features enough flank routes to ensure bottle-necking isn't an issue. In terms of customisation, it doesn't end with weapons and armour, but also allows players to dress up their characters with all sorts of apparel that is sure to make each one unique. If there is a downside to the customisation, it's that there are quite a few add-ons that can be purchased, and although none are particularly high priced, it's something we expected with the full game. While none of those add-ons are necessary to enjoy the game, some are weapons.
A journey worth reliving
For those who never played The Last of Us, head out and grab The Last of Us Remastered immediately. Not doing so would be the movie equivalent to never watching Star Wars. It's as visually stunning as any PlayStation 4 game available, and the campaign is one of the greatest of all-time. So good, in fact, that a film adaptation is already confirmed. Additionally, there's the multiplayer, and while you may not play it a year from now, it is incredibly well done and fun in the right circumstances.
If you're like us and played this title a year ago, our advice remains the same: go out and grab it as soon as you can. With visual upgrades, downloadable content and the new Photo Mode, the purchase is more than justified. If you're still not convinced it's worth the price of admission, but enjoyed the PlayStation 3 version, well once again remind you of our Star Wars argument. While it's great that you own the old DVD versions, how can you not enjoy the visual enhancements that Blu-ray has to offer? The Last of Us Remastered is one of the true masterpieces in video game history, and should be experienced on every possible level.
GAME's Verdict: 10/10
- One of the greatest campaigns of all-time
- Stunning 1080p and 60fps PlayStation 4 visuals
- Incredible voice acting brings the script to life
- Non-playable characters can negatively impact combat
- The multi-player, while good, lacks longevity