The word ‘remastered’ carries quite a bit of weight, especially when the game that’s receiving the treatment is already considered to be a masterpiece. However, Naughty Dog strives even closer to perfection, and that is what you’ll get in The Last of Us: Remastered.
For old fans and new players alike this remake of last year’s epic tale will leave you in awe – to the extent in which it feels as though you are playing the game for the first time. Considering that I’ve played the game four times before, I do not use those words lightly. Joel and Ellie’s trek across the United States is a difficult, dangerous and emotional one, and certainly not a journey for the light-hearted. If you’re new to the game, and by some miracle have avoided all plot details, here’s a quick introduction.
The story so far
The human population is decimated after a new terror comes to life. Somehow, a deadly outbreak occurs and infects and kills most of the human population. The infection, caused by spores, turns humans in cordyceps, monsters who live only to feed off other living creatures. By the time the main story kicks in 20 years have passed. During a ‘revenge’ mission, Joel (the protagonist) and Tess (a side-character) track down a thug who stole valuable weapons from them. During this mission, they encounter Marlene, the leader of a resistance faction. Upon meeting them, she asks them if they can smuggle something very valuable out of the city. The cargo that needs smuggling turns out to be Ellie, a sharp-tongued teenage girl who’s as deadly with a switchblade as she is with a brick. What lies ahead should only be experienced by playing the game. The game is dark, morbid and unrelenting as it explores a world reclaimed by nature, where even your friends should never be trusted, and where you’re just as guilty as the people trying to kill you.
Following the greatness of the main game, The Left Behind DLC (which is also included in the game) touches on what happened to Ellie before the start of the game. It’s not integrated into the game so if you’d like to play it, you need to select it from the main menu. If you want to play it at the best time, take a look at Jarred’s article once you’re done here. Having never played the DLC mission on the PS3, I was absolutely blown away by it. Although I knew exactly what would happen, I was still hit with a heavy blow by the end of the story. As a huge Ellie fan, I was once again glad to play her in this beautiful but harrowing story. It’s fairly short, but it gives you a greater idea of who she is and what it’s like to have grown up after the apocalypse.
Seeing is believing, and before playing the game I could barely notice any difference between the PS3 and PS4 versions when watching those comparative YouTube clips. But after seeing the game first hand, the graphic upgrade is remarkable. Small details that were slightly blurry in the PS3 version are very clear in this game. Character details are of the highest standard (so far) and the higher frame rate makes the game so smooth that you’ll never want to play in 30FPS ever again.
The faster frame rate isn’t just for aesthetics either, it makes the game faster and registers the controls a lot quicker, making aiming and shooting a lot easier. This is a blessing in a game that has very little ammo. The added visual detail in all the characters makes them more believable, especially during the cut scenes where you can easily see facial movements you might’ve missed in the PS3 version.
The remastered version, in case you didn’t know, is bundled with Grounded Mode (which should only be tackled if you’ve managed to defeat the game on Survivor difficulty) and all multiplayer maps. No network pass is needed, so if you’re keen to play some MP, you’re golden (unless you don’t have PS Plus subscription). There is one kink though. I haven’t noticed a major improvement with the enemy AI, and the fact that Ellie and Tess can still run in front of an enemy and not alert them, bothers me a lot.
Photo Mode (Note: All the images in this post, were images I took in Photo Mode)
Of course the biggest addition to the game is Photo Mode (PM), a fun and creative addition to the TLOU experience. I’m not very good at using most photo editing software so I was a little bit nervous using photo mode for the first time. However, I quickly took my words back, as it’s probably the simplest thing you’re ever going to use. Simply activate PM in the pause menu and press the L3 button when you’d like to freeze the game and enter PM. Once you’re in, you can move the camera around, zoom in/ out and tilt the image until you get that perfect angle. Next you can add some depth to the image, a frame, a filter or edit it some more. Once you’re done just hit the share button, and you’re done. PM is especially brilliant when taking action shots, but the drawback is that there’s a small delay in the fighting which may cause you to lose some life.
The Last of Them
The multiplayer is back and much better than it was before. With all the maps included, it won’t be long before you find a match. Matchmaking in the PS3 version was a nightmare, and could keep you waiting for over 20 minutes. There is one issue that the game still hasn’t gotten right – matchmaking isn’t always evened out. During a few missions, I was constantly stuck in a group with low rankings versus a group with a ridiculously (like how the Hell are they at that level already?) high ranking. So, yeah, it’s just as difficult as it was before, but oh so rewarding when you win.
In the end, The Last of Us Remastered is as its name implies, a masterpiece and a must own if you have a PS4. When adding up the cost of having everything on PS3 versus the remaster, you’re saving quite a bit of cash. The remaster takes nothing away, but brings the almost perfect PS3 game so much closer to perfection.