Initial release date: September 2, 2022
Composer: Gustavo Santaolalla
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genres: Action-adventure game, Shooter game
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows
Series: Sony The Last of Us Series, The Last of Us
"Review Copy Provided By PlayStation"
This is one game that I was both looking forward to covering and then dreading it all the same due to the fact that there is so much hate for not only this remake but the franchise and the developers over at Naughty Dog. Internet discourse when it comes to video games (and generally anything these days) can become rather toxic and can lead to some outrageous interactions. For me, I play and review games that I’m legitimately interested in and when I was made aware of the remake of the 2013 critically acclaimed The Last of Us, I was excited to dive into the game and give it a go to see how it looks on the PS5 and what all is changed. So, without further delay, let’s dive into this review!
The story of The Last of Us centers around Joel Miller and Ellie Williams as they strive to survive the Cordecyps Brain Infection aka CBI that has swept the world and devasted humanity. In 2013, Joel and his daughter Sarah and brother Tommy were living in Texas during the beginning of the outbreak which leads to them trying to escape Austin, Texas. During their escape, Sarah is shot and killed by a military soldier leaving only Joel and Tommy alive. Fast-forward 20 years to 2033 and we are introduced to a 51 year old Joel and his partner Tess Servopolous as they are tasked with escorting 14 year old Ellie to a Fireflies compound. The events that occur on this journey ultimately change their lives and deepen their bond forever.
So, this remake has been under a lot of scrutiny and primarily from people who haven’t even played the game as many are claiming that this is just a simple asset upgrade of the Remastered version on the PS4 from 2014 when it really is not at all. Like the remake of Demon’s Souls from 2020 that was rebuilt from the ground up by Blue Point games, The Last of Us Part I is also rebuilt from the ground up. Many of the new additions are all new character models with many of them looking a lot older than the previous models (Tess, Ellie, Joel, etc) along with various graphical upgrades showcasing skin stretching and blemishing which go a long way in bringing realism to character interactions especially when there are very emotional scenes which brings the characters to life in ways that they weren’t previously. There are new physics added which carrier over from the sequel and have every character and item in the environment reacting realistically in a way that the original and remaster never could.
Enemy A.I. has been tweaked to react more realistically and smarter to what you do, however, I find that the enemy A.I. is only mildly better than the original and isn’t the substantial leap that it is promoted to be.
The game has two visual modes that you can toggle between being a resolution mode and a performance mode. Resolution Mode runs the game at native 4K at 30fps while Performance Mode runs the game at checkerboarded 4K (1440p upscaled) at 60fps while also supporting VRR. With the game in Graphics Mode I found it to be absolutely stunning on my 4K 144hz gaming monitor especially with HDR turned on as everything from the characters and flora and fauna look absolutely stunning. My only problem with this mode is that 30fps just isn’t the way I want to experience this game especially after getting used to playing games at 60fps and higher so this just makes me want the PC version to come out sooner! The Performance Mode is my preferred way to play the game as I love being able to experience this with VRR turned on. Visually, it may not be as stunning as the Graphics Mode, however, it still looks really darn good and with the way bloom effects and HDR lighting are so fine tuned in this game, it just looks awesome!
TLoU PI takes advantage of the DualSense controller’s Haptic Triggers and Feedback making every shot of a gun, pull of a bowstring, punch and more feel that much more impactful. Given the new physics used, gunplay will take a little bit of getting used to as the new physics engine has everything feeling extra weighty compared to the original which makes skirmishes feel that much more tense.
The last thing I want to bring up are all the accessibility options as that seems to be something that is entirely overlooked by the vast majority of the gaming community (who seems to only want to have selective outrage over this game). The accessibility options available in this game are honestly some of the very best in I’ve seen in any game as they truly allow anyone who hasn’t had the chance to experience this modern masterpiece to be able to dive right into it regardless of their impairments be they blind, deaf, or other. It’s because of the attention to detail when it comes to the accessibility options that I have to give a lot of credit to the team at Naughty Dog because they allow you to change nearly every aspect of the game to tailor the experience so that anyone can play, granted this could be used to skip whole sections of the game but who am I to tell someone else how they should experience a game?
So, with all the upgrades and visual fidelity, what are some of the downsides of this version of the game? Well there are some bugs present in this version of the game that are not in the original or the Remastered versions such as the physics engine going wonky at times (the original game was built on Unreal Engine 3 while this is on Unreal Engine 5) and sometimes shots may not always register that should like headshots for instance and there were times when I was in stealth areas where I should’ve been seen but for some reason I wasn’t at all. All of these issues can be fixed with a patch and many have been addressed with the day one patch so consider these to be minor annoyances.
The only omission in this game is the multiplayer mode which was available in the original and the Remaster which is apparently being retooled to be released later on as a separate game. Now, as someone who didn’t invest much time into that mode in either of the two previous releases; I can see many being upset with it but I also understand that it would take a lot of time to completely rebuild that mode in the new engine as it’s not a mere asset upgrade.
Lastly, there’s the price of this game being $70 which seems to be a major point of contention for a lot of gamers which to me is rather odd given that we just got a fully remade Demon’s Souls at full price and even The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was given an “HD” port to the Nintendo Switch at full price (and still is full price) and gamers didn’t become as vocal as they are about the prices of those games in comparison to the price of this one so to me this is purely selective outrage and is nonsensical. Should the game be $70? That’s not for me to decide nor dictate to a developer what they should or shouldn’t charge for the work put in their game. Given that this was built from the ground up and isn’t an asset upgrade means a lot of work went into making this game and I appreciate what was done here. I’ve never been a gamer who complains about the price of a game as even when I wasn’t reviewing them and getting review copies; I was still buying them (I still do buy games I get review copies from to support the developers) because if I want to play a game then I buy it and nothing will stop me. I never shop for others with my own wallet so if you see a game you want then get it or if you price conscious then wait for a sale if that’s what you want to do but for all the nonsense on social media from loudmouths telling others what to do and what to buy just gets annoying to me and is why I just don’t care to engage in gaming talks on social media and rather spend my time playing games.
So, should you buy The Last of Us Part I? That’s not my place to decide for you. For me, I personally enjoy the game and love the upgrades to this in comparison to the original and I think seeing this in motion instead of compressed YouTube videos and static images online goes a long way. If you don’t want to get this version of the game then you can always get the Remastered version, so in the end, you always have options.