Developer – Naughty Dog
Publisher – Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s) – PlayStation 5
Release Date – September 2, 2022
Disclaimer: Thanks to PR for Providing a Review Copy
It cannot be emphasized enough how much I adore The Last of Us which was originally released on the PlayStation 3 back in 2013. Almost 10 years ago, that game was released worldwide and I’ve always maintained how terrific I felt the game was. From the narrative, gameplay, and perfectly developed relationship between Joel and Ellie, the first game is without a doubt in my top 10 games of the past decade.
Even with how much I love the game, I’ll admit when I first heard they were making a remake for The Last of Us I was a bit bewildered. The game isn’t old enough to where you’d expect it to get a remake and before its official announcement I can’t say I saw anyone clamoring for Naughty Dog to make one. I think the factor of the upcoming HBO series based on The Last of Us games played a part in the decision to go in the direction of a remake.
All that being said, there’s no changing anything since as of this writing the remake is set to release in a few days. I’ve played and beaten the original Last of Us multiple times and have beaten The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC once so I have a good outlook on many things with this remake. In comparison, I also have completed The Last of Us Part II, so I’ll be able to speak as someone who’s played through every single installment so let’s begin.
I won’t be spending time going over the narrative and characters for this remake. Chances are if you’re reading this, you already know the events of both The Last of Us and Left Behind. To put it shortly, apart from the new character design of the doctor in the operating room towards the end of the game, there are no changes to the core story. As I mentioned earlier I love the story of The Last of Us and I thought Left Behind was really good, so you won’t see many assertions from me in this department.
I think a more intriguing topic would be the gameplay for this remake. Most of the discussion about this remake has been regarding the modifications to the gameplay. When this remake was first announced, many thought the gameplay would take a direction into the mechanics of The Last of Us Part II. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the narrative of Part II as I was with the original but I can’t deny how exhilarating the combat was. About a month ago, the gameplay for the remake was revealed and it was shown to be similar to the original in many ways. It was also confirmed that the dodge and prone mechanics that were introduced in The Last of Us Part II would not make their way into the remake.
I went into this remake with a mentality towards the gameplay that I would truly have to see how it feels to play. To have an even better idea, I recently went back and played through a level of The Last of Us Remastered on PS4. After playing through the remake, I’ve concluded that while the combat does feel different it’s not distinct from the original to say it feels like a completely fresh gameplay experience.
I’ve played through The Last of Us multiple times so I’d notice minor things that others may not. Naughty Dog upgraded the gore, dismemberment, and blood effects considerably, this is one aspect that is 100% up to par with The Last of Us Part II as are the new workbench animations. Enemy AI has improved as well, you’ll still occasionally have times where friendly AI runs right in front of enemies and should be spotted but as I said, it happens very periodically. Enemy AI is much more aggressive and urgent and the way they move and interact with the environment is sensible.
The biggest complaint I see with those who played through The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 fairly recently is that it feels stiff and clunky by today’s standards. No doubt the remake feels a lot smoother in some areas, the 60FPS helps in that regard, Naughty Dog even utilized a few new animations for the combat. You can tell the gunplay in this remake has been a bit modified but I doubt most would be able to notice. There are tiny additions such as Infected with their lower half completely cut off from an explosion crawling to your feet to try and attack you. If you played Part II, you’d remember a feature where an enemy would go down to their knees after being wounded and beg for mercy allowing you to walk up and deliver the final blow, that also makes its way to this remake.
The thing is the core gameplay itself is largely unchanged. The same weapons from the original are still there and there are no new additions. The Last of Us Part II had things like silencers for your guns and even the ability to craft arrows yourself. Personally, I still enjoy the gameplay from the original Last of Us, so admittedly this factor doesn’t bother me too much. Still, even I’m a bit disappointed that certain integral aspects of the combat from Part II didn’t make their way into The Last of Us Part I. Although I can’t say it hindered my enjoyment with this remake substantially.
From a graphics point of view, Naughty Dog couldn’t have done a more excellent job. Naughty Dog is no stranger to remarkable graphics and The Last of Us Part I is no different. Everything from character models, to weapon textures, and environments are completely scaled up. Lighting is improved and it’s especially noticeable in cutscenes, comparing this aspect of the remake to the original is night and day.
Naughty Dog has gone on record to state they have completely changed the art direction for The Last of Us Part I. After completion, I fully agree that the devs did just that. Character models like Tess look drastically different from the original in a good way. Some models look a bit odd to me such as a young Tommy but that’ll depend on personal preference. I can’t put it any other way, from a graphics perspective, Naughty Dog delivered a masterpiece.
Naughty Dog is one of the developers that led the way for surplus accessibility in video games. I personally don’t use many of the options offered myself, but it’s still there for those that wish to use them. You can make this game as easy or hard and as accessible or non-accessible as you please with the multiple selections at your disposal. I don’t have any problems with it since all these things are completely optional and it’s completely up to the player to use them. You can put this game on Grounded and Permadeath if you please.
By way of completing the game, finding collectibles, and earning trophies, you can unlock extra features. This was a neat and fun component from the original that I’m glad they brought back and even expanded on a bit. These features can range from the director’s commentary on cutscenes to gameplay modifiers (Infinite Ammo or Slow Motion), and even skins for Joel and Ellie. Ellie has some tremendous skins ranging from shirts that are PlayStation Studios themed such as Days Gone, Infamous Second Son, Uncharted, and even the upcoming God of War Ragnarok.
Naughty Dog games are relatively bug-free, I can’t remember the last time I had a bad bug or glitch in any Naughty Dog game. All their games are polished at launch and you don’t see many if any social media posts that focus on bugs for their games. That being said, I did have a bit of a reoccurring issue in The Last of Us Part I. The screen would flicker multiple times and it wasn’t like it was a one-and-done thing, it happened multiple times throughout the game. There also was a bug where every single texture would disappear and it would leave me and any AI around me in a white background for about 2 or 3 seconds. It didn’t happen too often to hinder my experience but I felt it was worth noting so it gets sorted out in the future.
On a quick side note, the Factions multiplayer is not included in this remake, which is unfortunate since I thought highly of that mode and I wish Naughty Dog would’ve included it here. So, now it comes down to the major question, how much does this remake do differently than the original? In terms of graphics such as the updated textures, lighting, and new accessibility features, Naughty Dog succeeded when it comes to this remake. The real topic of debate comes in with the combat and gameplay.
It’s not like Naughty Dog didn’t change anything about the combat and core gameplay. I went over some of the changes earlier and I didn’t even mention the satisfying DualSense features such as the adaptive triggers. I think the one thing many wondered is if did enough to differentiate itself as a remake. The cores of the combat and gameplay have their discrepancies but I can’t say it’s wildly unique from the original Last of Us.
I love The Last of Us, I’ve loved the game since its initial launch and I haven’t changed my outlook since then. I will always love the compelling story that Naughty Dog told with that first game. I don’t have a problem with playing through one of my favorite games of all time, especially with a few new improvements. Although, I have to look through the lens of someone who may be on the fence about this remake. If you’ve never played The Last of Us or Left Behind, I think this is the definitive way to play it. If you have played these games before and want a completely revamped experience from gameplay to graphics, I’d say it’s 50/50 whether or not you’ll be wholly satisfied. Overall, I personally thoroughly enjoyed myself with The Last of Us Part I.
Rating - 9/10