After being released during 2013, the critically acclaimed The Last of Us has made its way on to the Playstation 4 with The Last of Us: Remastered. Yes I know people have criticised this port being made from PS3 to PS4, especially after its relatively short life within the gaming industry. But while some last gen to new gen ports feel much more of an easy cash-in, The Last of Us has just cause to make this enhanced journey.
It’s no secret that the Xbox 360 won the last generation console war, making its way into more homes then the PS3. It’s also no secret that The Last of Us is a PS3 console exclusive, so in comparison to other cross-platform games, this is a game that has missed many a home. It’s also no secret that the PS4 is now winning the new gen war with the Xbox One at this time.
So naturally this got Sony and Naughty Dog thinking that there’s a huge market out there that missed The Last of Us and with so many gamers jumping ship from Microsoft to Sony in this new generation, this of course is a golden opportunity to allow gamers that missed its original release to finally play this amazing game and to finally see what all the fuss is about. Also this is not only an opportunity for those that missed the original release, but it’s also an opportunity for PS3 to PS4 owners to play a better version of a game that they already love.
By now you will likely know much of the plot for The Last of Us, but for the benefit of this review, I’ll quickly gloss over this gripping story. But before I begin, I will warn you now that I am about to reveal some plot spoilers.
Joel (Troy Baker) is a single father living on the outskirts of Austin, Texas with his beloved 12 year old daughter Sarah. Following a blissful night of gift giving on Joel’s birthday, a real-life mutant fungus known as Cordyceps, commonly known for infecting insects in the Amazon jungle crosses over to the human race and all hell breaks loose, turning its human hosts into ravaging cannibalistic beings. Tragedy strikes and we fast forward 20 years with Joel now living in a government controlled quarantine zone located in Boston with what human survivors remain and with his female companion Tess (Annie Wersching). Joel and Tess are smugglers, bringing various items such as ration cards and weapons to and from the quarantine zone. But following a double-cross whilst on a job, events lead them to a woman called Marlene, who is a leader of the rebel group known as the Fireflies. The Fireflies are a group that has waged a civil war with the government quarantine zone authorities and above all else, they are looking for a cure against the Cordyceps plague and hopefully save mankind from extinction.
However Marlene wants Joel and Tess to smuggle an item for them, or should I say a young teenage girl going by the name of Ellie. Nothing is known of Ellie (Ashley Johnson), other than they are to smuggle her outside of the quarantine zone to a location occupied by the Fireflies. In Joel and Tess’s line of work, they do not need to know any details and in Joel’s words “its a perk of the job”, but nothing could ever prepare them for the journey that they are about to embark.
On the PS3 The Last of Us was a game that pushed the console to its absolute visual limits and it’s no surprise that considering its short life-span, it still looks fantastic and is arguably (in my opinion it is) the best looking game on the last gen. With the PS4 port it’s not leaps and bounds above its PS3 predecessor, but considering this is a juiced up PS3 game, it’s still arguably not only one of the best looking game on the PS4, but the new generation console as a whole. In fact Naughty Dog are that impressed with how great their game looks, it’s had the Infamous: Second Son treatment and gotten its own cool Photo Mode, where you can snap, edit and share you experiences with the gaming community. Just checkout my editing image featuring a grumpy Ellie above.
Some might see the fact that with The Last of Us: Remastered not being visually leaps and bounds above the PS3 version as a bad thing, but I see it as quite the opposite and in fact a testament to the great work that Naughty Dog has put into this game on the last gen and porting it over to the new gen, and managing to keep it looking so god dam good. Visually what the PS4 version brings to the table that the PS3 could not is a smooth 1080p and 60fps, though you do have the option to lock it at 30fps should you choose. I would recommend switching between 60fps/30fps for ten minutes apiece to see the difference that each brings. Though while the 60fps will allow the game to run smoother, having it set at 30fps actually seems to increase the shadow quality in-game.
One of the bonuses of the PS4 (and assuming you own a PS Vita) is the Remote Play function, which now allows gamers to stream the gameplay from the PS4 to PS Vita, to enjoy the gaming experience in the palms of their hands. While some games do suffer from some jitters with the Remote Play feature, especially tested with paced games such as the recent Strider reboot. However TLOU: Remastered seems to perform quite well when in Remote Play and with the odd jitter or two. When playing in Remote Play, I actually prefer the framerate to be set at 30fps. But that is just my personal preference after all.
The Last of Us tells an amazing story, it can be put no other way. It’s why a movie has been recently announced that is expected to have Game of Throne’s Maisie Williams to play the role of Ellie. Its story is incredibly powerful and will play a key role in keeping you immersed into its world. Other than a superbly written script by Neil Druckmann (who directs alongside Bruce Straley), you would struggle to find this incredible level of voice acting in any AAA Hollywood CGI movie, let alone a videogame. Troy Baker with his grizzly performance of Joel really is captivating and you believe and feel his painful tale throughout.
But as amazing as Troy Baker’s work is, it’s arguably the work of Ashley Johnson as Ellie that steals the show. Not only does she project a believable troubled teen with Ellie (which I’m sure is no easy task being performed by a lady who is actually in her early 30’s), she completely wins your heart with her performance and you will be eager to learn more about Ellie’s past. Which is where the superb DLC Left Behind (that is included in this Remastered edition) comes into play and I would always recommend reading the graphic novel American Dreams, which acts as a prequel to The Last of Us. Then along with this greatly written script and outstanding performance from all the voice cast, you have the majestic soundtrack performed by Gustavo Santaolalla, that will keep you captivated throughout and almost acts as The Last of Us spine, gelling together this storytelling masterpiece.
There are also a few new features related audio bonuses included in this Remastered edition. For example the game now features a DVD-like director commentary from Neil Druckmann, who will be joined by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson. You can access this feature, along with a Making-Of featurette in the gallery area found among the options. However the commentary is not available while you are playing the game, instead you must select the desired cutscene that you have played out during the campaign. If I was being a little picky, I do find this a little disappointing to an extent, as I would have preferred to hear the commentary during a playthrough. But hey, it’s a cool and unique feature not often found within a videogame, so that can only really be a plus in my book.
Another new inclusion that I appreciate is that sound effects such as the flashlight clicking and tape recorder audio now plays through the built in speaker of the DualShock 4. This may not sound like a big deal at first thought, but it’s these little subtleties that add even more immersion to the overall experience of The Last of Us: Remastered. Also if you own either the official Sony Playstation 2.0 or Pulse wireless headsets, then you will be able to download specific settings custom made for The Last of Us: Remastered, which make a huge difference with the games audio.
The Last of Us is described as a survival action game, though it does have its fair amount of horror, because those clickers are god dam terrifying. That clicking noise that they make, will unnerve you on many occasion, especially when it’s during the many sections in which you will be running low on health and supplies. If I was going to describe it into a particular genre, then I would call it a survival horror action game, as it has plenty of each moment, as well as its share of serenity at times. Not only with the Clickers unnerve you, but they will also offer you a great challenge, much like many of the foes in The Last of Us.
The humans, which in their own kind of way are perhaps the most sinister enemy type, as regardless of the world around them, they make the choice to kill you, just for the clothes on your back or an ever valuable ration card. At least the variety of infected will kill you on the instincts that plague them, rather than by choice.
While the clickers are one the most deadly of the infected types, there are several variations, each with their own dangers. The runt of the litter so to speak are the runners, which are also the weakest (at least when not in packs). The runners are at the early stages of the infection and despite having the instincts to feast on your neck, they are currently those closest of the infected to the human form. But while these are the weaker variety, they are far faster than the clicker and will often attack in packs like rapid wolves.
The stalkers are the next stage of the infected. They are very similar in a sense to the runners, they certainly have their speed. But unlike the runner, they have none of their human conscious left and are far more aggressive then the runner. Also as the name suggests, they will also stalk you and at times hide behind cover, waiting to ambush their potential victims.
The clicker is possibly the most deadly of the infected, and their spine chilling sound they make will haunt you throughout. These have no conscious what so ever and their sole purpose is to chew on your throat. You will see the clicker far less than the runner or stalker, but you will also find one or two among them. They may also be slower, but if they get up close, then instant death is the likelihood. However if you upgrade your shiv, you can counter them with a well timed press of the triangle button and jamming your shiv into their neck. Just make sure you have a shiv ready at hand for when they attack. Also speaking of shivs, try to keep at least two in your inventory, one to escape an infected and two, to access one of the secret rooms with extremely valuable resources.
The fourth and final type of infected is the bloater. Thankfully you will only encounter these infected beasts on the odd occasion, but your battles with them will forever remain in your mind. The bloater has been infected for far longer than any other enemy type and has very tough armour like skin, and will take a lot of damage to bring down. They may be very slow, but they counter that disability by launching deadly Mycotoxin bombs that will explode on impact spraying you with a venomous cloud. My advice against this foe would be to continually be on the move, as if they catch you, you will die instantly.
The Last of Us does have an upgrade system that will better allow you to tackle all types of enemies. You can upgrade your health, crafting speed, a steadier aim and more. You can upgrade your natural abilities by collecting pills or herbal plants to spend on your desired upgrade. There are also various Training Manuals to hunt down, which will further enhance a number of abilities.
Your weapons however are upgraded slightly differently to your natural abilities. Throughout the game you will scavenge for parts that when taken to the various workbenches, you will be able to upgrade any weapon that you currently have in your possession. I won’t go into all the weapons within the game, as it’s good to leave a few surprises. But you will have your standard handguns, shotguns and a very handy bow and arrow for the stealthier of sections. Another tip would be to upgrade you weapon holster as soon as possible, allowing you to switch through weapons faster and at more ease.
The Last of Us is a game though, that ammo is very scarce. There will be many, many moments when you will have one or two bullets to your name and this is when you realise that every shot must count. But not only will you have parts to upgrade your weapons, you can also scavenge for parts and various resources to craft some much needed tools to aid you in the battlefield (so to speak). You don’t have endless amounts of items to craft, but each one is vastly important and much like the ammo, resources can be very rare and you will have to prioritise what items you craft, depending on your current situation.
You will be able to craft nail bombs, Molotov’s, smoke bombs and health packs. You can also use bricks and glass bottles to draw an enemy to its location, allowing you to slip on by unnoticed (hopefully), saving you to waste much needed ammo and so forth. Melee attacks will also come into play, but hand-to-hand fisty cuffs will get you so far, but weapons such as lead pipes, axes and even a plank of wood are far more effective than your fists. Each of these melee weapons will deteriorate with use, but you can also upgrade the amount of damage that dish out and their longevity.
Whether it’s a firearm or hand to hand, the combat in The Last of Us is very satisfying and is up there with the likes of Uncharted 2 and 3, which is obviously no surprise as their running off the same engine. But like even the greatest games, The Last of Us is not without any flaw. What I mean by this, is at times the NPC’s can act very randomly and get you into trouble on the occasion. For example a friendly A.I will at times get up and drift off on their own accord, at times alerting the enemy to your presence. This very annoyingly can result in you wasting more ammo and resources then you intended, which resulted in my choosing to restart certain checkpoints. But this is the only ‘minor’ flaw that I can think of with this great game, nothing is perfect after all, no matter how great something may seem.
As I’ve already touched upon, The Last of Us is a very challenging game. Even on the normal difficulty setting it offers more than a challenge then other games set at its equivalent, though experiencing The Last of Us on the harder difficulties seems to greater compliment the game. While having the difficulty set on Hard will allow for tougher enemies and far fewer supplies, this will offer you a stern challenge and when you’ve finished the campaign, you will know that you’ve survived one hell of a fight.
However for me and once you’ve got the practise in, I would advise having a go on the Survivor difficulty. Supplies are extremely rare to find, especially ammo. This adds even more purpose to the saying “make every shot count”. Which weapons you use and the items that you craft, will come under even more scrutiny. The Listening Mode (which is available from difficulty easy to hard) that you will become so reliant on to see and hear any nearby enemies movements will be disabled, forcing you to solely rely on instincts and judgement in order to survive. Just by disabled the Listening Mode, it makes the game far more intense, not to mention the Survivor difficulty will now result in enemies dishing out double the damage.
The next difficulty up from Survivor is Grounded. On the Grounded setting enemies will dish out triple the damage; supplies are pretty much none existent and the HuD is disabled, along with the Listening Mode. Thankfully for all the difficulty settings in The Last of Us, you do have a New Game+ So once you’ve finished the campaign on that particular setting, all your abilities and weapon upgrades will carry over. It is also worth nothing that another improvement made with this Remastered version is that the loading times are much improved. With the PS3 version it would take a fair while to load the game up between the main menu and the game itself, thankfully those loading times have now been drastically cut for the PS4.
Obviously as much as I love The Last of Us, the next gamer might absolutely despise it (if so, then shame on you!). So how much time a particular gamer is willing to put into that game is purely down to the individual. I however have finished The Last of Us on the PS3 three times over and I am now attempting to finish it on that gruelling Survivor difficulty. Depending on the gamer, will also depending on how long it takes you to initially finish the campaign first time around. For me, as I’m the type to explore and hunt for all the hidden items, I believe it took me around 15 hours to finish the campaign of The Last of Us on normal difficulty.
That time will decrease the more you play it, but there’s plenty of value in finding all the hidden items, upgrading your weapons and abilities, not to mention the extra difficulties. For many TLOU: Remastered is seen as a game to welcome in the new PS4 owners that may have missed the original 2013 PS3 release, but that is not exactly true. As for me, this is a chance to play an improved version of a game I love and despite being on my fourth PS3 playthrough; I still can’t get enough of this game on the PS4. So deciding whether it’s worth you picking up this game in my opinion mainly relies on two aspects; 1 – If you missed the original release and 2 – If you love this game and want to experience it on the PS4, along with its many added features that are exclusive to this edition.
When The Last of Us released last year, we gave it a mighty impressive score of 9.5. While I agree with that score, giving a game a perfect 10, doesn’t necessarily mean that a game needs to be absolutely perfect, at least in my book. While this game still seems to suffer from questionable NPC A.I, the experience and joy that his game brings me is like no other that I have played in many, many years. I’m completely compelled with its immersive world and I just have that urge for more. Whether you score its campaign a 9.5 or a flat out 10, you could really be argued either way. But when you throw in all that this Remastered edition brings, the score of an apparelled 10 looks the far more worthy with this PS4 instalment.
I’ve not even talked about the amazing story DLC that comes with The Last of Us: Remastered in Left Behind. Which much like the main game itself, Left Behind is quite possibly the best piece of DLC that I have ever played. So much so that with its original PS3 release, I also gave that a very worthy score of 9.5. Now I won’t go into any details of Left Behind for spoiler reasons, but I will link you to my review HERE. Then TLOU: Remastered comes will all previously released multiplayer DLC such as maps and gear to customise your online character. You have improved visuals, DVD style director commentary and much more. Then on top of all that you have the multiplayer, which is a worthy addition and not at all feels like an out if place extra (Tomb Raider I am looking at you).
When playing online, you can pick between two factions, the Hunters and the Fireflies, and during each match you are fighting for your faction’s survival. Ok you may not care about random players online, but when you link The Last of Us multiplayer to your Facebook account, it utilises your friends on their list, coming up with messages of them being in danger or infected. This while not real (obviously), it makes you feel more connected to the multiplayer and feels to have purpose in what you are doing and it’s quite a clever little feature. Also now that you can have Party Chat with the PS4, you feel more at home when getting friends together to work as a coherent team and believe me when I say, working as a team is key with this multiplayer.
Quite simply the best game of the last generation just got a whole lot better and it comes equipped with a host of improvements and added features. In my humble opinion The Last of Us: Remastered is now also the best game on the new generation console and especially if you missed the PS3 release and now own a PS4, you seriously need to own this game. The term masterpiece can be thrown around very loosely within the videogame industry, but there’s no better way in which to describe The Last of Us: Remastered. This is a masterpiece that you need to experience.
+Masterfully told story
+Superb voice cast
+Left Behind add-on is awesome
+Content in the Remastered version is excellent value
+Crafting has genuine purpose
+New Game Plus
+Multiplayer is a worthy addition
-I ran out of space in the positives section