What is there not to love about one of the greatest games of all-time getting a graphical facelift and a healthy shot of extra content? The answer is literally nothing. The Last of Us: Remastered, despite being a year and a generation old, proves to be one of the finest Playstation 4 (and current-generation) experiences you can have right now. Hell, I answered an opening rhetorical question just to make sure to hammer in that point.
In the interest of avoiding ground already covered, I won’t go quite as in-depth with mechanics or story beats as our original review did. Instead, I want to focus on the, well, remastered part. If you’ve somehow never played The Last of Us, though, then here’s a quick little summary of the game:
The Last of Us is an astoundingly crafted and emotionally-charged, third-person shooter experience that has you taking on the role of Joel, who’s tasked with smuggling a teenage girl named Ellie. That’s all you need to know, because to give anymore plot details would only detract from the masterful tale that really should be experienced firsthand by every gamer.
Anyways, TLoU: Remastered is undoubtedly worth its price tag for those who’ve never played it before. As for those who already own it (like myself), that’s up to debate; however, I say it’s worth the dive because, hey, you get to play the game’s surprisingly excellent and addictive multiplayer on the PS4. This, for me, is the most significant upgrade from PS3 to PS4, as taking out Fireflies with a plank with nails on it is easily a superior experience on PS4 — especially with 60 frames-per-second and party support. I know it seems like a weird reason, given that The Last of Us is known more for its engrossing campaign, but Naughty Dog really do know how to design excellent multiplayer, which first became apparent with the Uncharted series.
This PS4 re-issuing also comes bundled in with DLC offerings that really make its $49.99 price more digestible, especially when the DLC alone is worth more than $30. The list is highlighted by the utterly fantastic Left Behind chapter that shines the spotlight on a more naive Ellie, providing a stark contrast to the mature-beyond-her-years Ellie we know from the main campaign. It’s only a couple of hours in length, but this is a case of quality over quantity. The rest of the featured DLC includes the Abandoned Territories map pack, Reclaimed Territories map pack, and the Grounded difficulty mode that can only be described as volunteering to strap yourself to one of those lovely devices from the Saw franchise.
I found pretty much all maps — both original and DLC — for the multiplayer to be very well thought-out and the deliberate pacing only ensures that it’s almost never the map’s fault that you died. As for the new Grounded difficulty? Well, let’s just say that I never thought I would say the words, “Survivor mode was easier.” Grounded mode strips away the HUD, which means no health bar or ammo count for your clip. As a result, you’re forced to pay attention to your shot count so you know when to reload and how Joel walks in order to judge if you need a health pack. Enemy AI has also been given the Super Saiyan treatment by receiving heightened awareness and increased damage output. It’s truly a teeth-grinding experience reserved for masochists, but at least beating it isn’t required for Platinum.
The Last of Us: Remastered‘s graphical improvements are most definitely noticeable, and that’s saying something, because the PS3 version already looked better than a handful of next-gen titles have. Now, you won’t quite mistake it for a game developed only for the PS4, but the increased visual fidelity, especially paired with the 60 FPS, make for some pretty eye-widening graphical moments. It’s a noticeably cleaner all-around presentation — which is only marred by some blurred textures here and there — that makes the original 30 FPS PS3 version look almost choppy in comparison.
While I’m on the 30 FPS subject, this remaster’s “Lock Framerate to 30 FPS” option really does nothing beneficial. You might hear someone say keeping it in 30 FPS makes it more cinematic, but what they’re actually saying is that they prefer to play the game with less smoothness and fluidity. Adjusting to playing TLOU in 60 FPS does not take long, so unless you have the naked eye of a falcon spotting a worm from outer space and can spot something the rest of us can’t, I don’t get why you would want to choose a lower framerate when there is simply no benefit.
Rounding out the presentation are the most customizable audio settings I’ve seen in a game. You can adjust dynamic range, speaker angles, and even assign only certain sounds to the center speaker. It’s a neat touch for the audiophiles.
Other additions include a Photo mode (that is almost identical to inFAMOUS: Second Son‘s photo mode) which is a nice, fun little distraction that I hope shows up more and more with future PS4 titles. There’s also a 90 minute making-of documentary titled Grounded: The Making of The Last Of Us, and commentary by Neil Druckmann (Creative Director/Writer), Troy Baker (Joel), and Ashley Johnson (Ellie) for in-game cutscenes. These are all highly entertaining and insightful extras that make this PS4 outing all the more compelling.
The Last of Us: Remastered has proven to be one of the finest re-releases to date, and there’s no reason as to why newcomers should pass it up. That said, if you already own it on PS3, it all comes down to how passionate you are about the game and how alluring playing it on PS4 is to you. Naughty Dog has done everything it could with this revamp, so as much as it sounds like a cop out, it really is up to the player’s level of passion and desire to play through the game’s storyline, or experience its competitive multiplayer, again. They had me the second they announced this Remastered edition, and it’s thrilling to see that they’ve absolutely delivered — it’s like playing it for the first time all over again.