The Last of Us, Remake PS5

The Last of Us is unmistakable, a game that delivered a swansong for the PS3 in 2013 and got the re-up treatment for the PS4 in the years that followed. Here we are now, nine years later and revisiting the beginning of the story, again. That’s not a bad thing either, basically Guy said it in a nutshell “my personal top game of the PS3 and PS4 generation is getting a facelift for the PS5”. Personally its getting me excited to follow on with TLOU Part 2 as well.

So in lieu of being able to record ourselves rambling about the game all night, we thought we’d share a condensed version of our thoughts here.

Two Survivalist Smugglers walk into a burnt out post apocalyptic bar…

Richard:

Playing The Last of Us again, it’s amazing isn’t it? I know there is reluctance around because we’ve played at least 2 versions in the last 9 years. But, Hell, it’s such a great game. If you paid attention to the Facebook / Social negative nannas you’d think it was pointless. The reality is that Naughty Dog have laboured over this game, reworked it and polished it with the goodness they had in the sequel.

I was ready to get back into it and I’m so glad I did.

Guy:

I totally agree. Such a wonderfully realised world, with amazing characters and suuuper satisfying, emergent combat scenarios. Especially with the PS5 cranking an enemy AI upgrade.

To that point, what are your thoughts on the PS5 version’s upgrades?

Richard:

Obviously the biggest impression is visually. It’s just stunning, the environments rich as ever, but the lighting, spores, swirling motes of dustiness. I keep stopping just to test out the camera mode. That said, I also switch it on a lot in panic during combat, usually when I’m about to get chomped. I don’t know if you noticed, but I swear Ellie looked a lot more childlike in the first couple of scenes with Joel until she settled into the more familiar face. That said, it could be suggestion of her journey and the development she quickly lives through.

Guy:

The lighting is sublime, as you mentioned. When light beams catch the spores I couldn’t help but stop and stare. The upgraded character models and refined facial mo-cap is excellent too. The cut-scenes just “sing”. In many ways the initial vision that bore Last of Us on PS3 has fiiiinally actually got the tech to deliver the desired experience.

On PS3 it was ahead of its time in every way.

Richard:
Yes it was.

Thinking about the level design, I may have sketchy memories of the PS3 / PS4 versions. But, I’m convinced there have been structural changes. I was showing my eldest the early levels and he couldn’t believe the look of shock on a bad guy’s face when he got shot. Then the pooling blood entertained us, and of course some experiments on the damage modelling. Nothing like seeing the effect of a real headshot or a pool of water turn cloudy red, when a corpse lands in it.

Guy:

As gruesome as it is, I had the same sort of experience. I shot a bad guy and he fell into a deep puddle of water. The blood leeched out into the water in a red cloud. Sooo much detail. The beauty is one thing, but the locked 60fps /1440p is great too. I am gutted its not at 4k, but I am coming to accept that even with the PS5, the 60/4k “dream” is not possible in top tier games.

Richard:

So many sublime details that add up to an amazing package. The atmosphere and their relationship just suck you in. The cutscenes destroy anything on TV, narrative in games is generally horrible. Writing is always really lazy, acting under par and production values desperate. The Last of Us, and especially Naughty Dog know how to deliver entertainment that hooks you.

Guy:

Much has been made of the “full priced game” price tag, for what is being called an old game. And I’m torn, as it is essentially a extensive re-polish of a game I have played before. But they have done such a great job, it feels new!!

For those new to this generation or to the PS5, it is a must and worth every penny. Every single one! For those who looooove The Last of Us and like me have played it many times, I promise you won’t be dissatisfied…and if you have played it before but can’t stomach the price…then don’t buy it.

Richard:

100% agree with you. It’s worth every penny. The Last Of Us is so well put together, I would have to say it’s absolutely one of the best games ever made.

That’s not a light hearted or fanboy statement, the narrative gets me. The arching stories of both Joel and Ellie are captivating in their own rights, but against this backdrop there is resonance. The atmosphere is palpable, even the quiet sections are often laced with tension or the expectation that something is about to happen.

The gameplay details are upped another notch with the smoother approach of Last of Us Part II, nothing is wasted and you never feel cheated by repetition. That always astounded me the first time, way back in the death throes of the PS3. This was a game that didn’t do cookie cutter, and when objects were re-used they were disguised enough for you to not really notice.

The levels are so well designed, even though they are essentially captive points, they are meshed so seamlessly together that everything just makes sense. And don’t get me started on that transition between cutscene and gameplay. It was a key point for The Order, but Last of Us, well, I love it because its so good that you stop even noticing it.

Guy:
Exactly.

That scene where Joel and Ellie are in the Pickup truck and get ambushed, then crash into a shop. The cutscene was stunning, straight into a tense combat scenario. But the music is a western style song playing on the crashed pickups cassette deck which began in the cutscene. The whole sequence was an example of total masterclass game design.

Richard:

I noticed that too, especially how it gets louder the closer you are. As for AI, you touched on that earlier, but the bad guys are definitely more active. The assistant AI, well, Ellie does behave herself better these days, but the other characters that join you do have a habit of wandering around stealth sections.

One minor gripe was after a couple of big fights, notably the one after the Armoured Car – when the cutscene had finished…all my bodies had vanished. Not a dealbreaker, but glaring compared to the rest of the game.

Guy:

The “Accessibility” stuff is impressive. Even the “Skip Puzzle” option is a nice add. Nice for a game to basically say…play how you want. I like that.

Richard:

There are so many options to tailor the game, and the Dualsense interpretation is terrific, being able to control the levels of vibration equally impressive.

Guy:

So…thoughts overall?

Richard:

Thoughts overall – you cant go past it.

Even now on my fourth replay I’m captivated again, every new section dares me to step forward regardless of how late it is. Naughty Dog are in a league of their own, The Last Of Us is a game that will alway be a cut above and I look forward to playing it on the PS6. To be fair we could probably talk all night, so glad we didn’t record this.

Mind you, I had my ass handed to me a couple of time. Especially early on.

Guy:

Haha. Exactly right. I love the approachable challenge, the unique 3rd person combat, the clever level design and stellar cast and story. I love this game and am over the moon its not trapped back on the PS3 etc… Long may these top tier remakes keepa coming!

Could go all night, as you say. Lol See ya later.

Richard:
Cheers Mate. See you for the sequel.

For now though, its worth the re-experience. Especially including the standalone adventure “Left Behind”. The naysayers will be crowing about how they waited for PSPlus to run with it, but those that do pick it up won’t be disappointed.