Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available on: PC - Coming soon
Release Date: September 2nd 2022
Price: $78 - Amazon
The Last of Us Part 1 remake is one that has divided gamers everywhere, while most people are very excited about one of the best PlayStation console exclusives ever made being brought to the current generation of hardware, some were rather sceptical that the game even needed a remake. After playing quite intensively over the last week, I can tell you that it absolutely did. In fact there are a number of comparison images between this game and the original as well as a few comparisons to TLOU2 whose engine this remake is supposedly built from the ground up using. Originally released for the PS3 back in 2013 and remastered just 1 year later for the PS4 this classic PlayStation exclusive has now been remade from the ground up almost a decade after the original. Fans will be able to relive and some might even be jumping in for the first time and get to follow along as Ellie & Joel undertake their epic adventure across apocalyptic USA.
Let's start by discussing what's new in this remake versus the old remaster. As mentioned already this is a complete; from the ground up remake which utilises the same engine that The Last of Us 2 was made in which is arguably the best looking game ever made. It also had enhanced Dualsense features specially designed to get the most out of your Dualsense controller. On top of this the overall experience is also a little different. Naughty Dog have overhauled the original experience but somewhat modernised some of the mechanics. This includes improved controls, expanded accessibility options and enhanced exploration and combat. Speed run mode is now a thing which enables an in game timer that tracks both your current and best gameplay times.
So, that is what's different between the 2 on paper, but how does that translate to actual in game visuals and performance? I'll be honest, I think we as gamers are a little spoiled with exceptional visuals these days that I think we forget what games used to look like. This includes myself, and as a result I was immediately disappointed. Yeah the game looks great, but I didn't see it as a huge step up over the remaster that came out in 2014. So I took myself back to the original, I played that and immediately I knew I was wrong. This remake is worlds apart from the remaster. The lighting in particular makes a massive difference as well as the environments and level designs being completely overhauled to look much different and much more reminiscent of the real world.
Here are a few comparison images to show exactly what I mean.
As you can see, the difference is actually quite substantial. From the lighting to the textures and surprisingly the level design have all been overhauled and made to seem much more realistic the overall tone of the images has shifted to a much more “filmic” art style with that heavy film grain and personally I think it looks amazing.
Compared to The Last of Us Part 2, however, the results might actually surprise some. Of course I am not able to do any side by side scene comparisons, however I can put similar scenes side by side with one and other and well, I actually think personally that the remake looks a little better even that TLOU2, however I think the difference is so narrow that it will be entirely down to preference between the 2.
Aside from the visuals, there are a lot of other, mostly rather subtle changes that really help to make The Last of Us Part 1 Remake a little more modern. First of all, Photo mode has had a pretty extensive overhaul from the original and is now much more in line with the photo mode from TLOU2 which I personally loved and spent hours upon hours capturing the perfect shots in TLOU2 and I will soon do the same in this. One thing I’ve struggled with a little is the camera. I think I remember a similar issue when playing TLOU2, but the camera has its own idea of where it wants you to look and is very forceful in moving your view there. This is particularly true in confined spaces. So, when the aim of the game is so often to sneak around undetected, being able to have your head on a swivel is super important and more often than not, the game simply wouldn't allow me to move the camera in the direction I wanted it to go. This never really led to me dying, but it became a constant battle of me vs the game. There are other mechanics that have been overhauled, the mantling animations seem super clean and crisp, the gunplay feels a little cleaner and just overall traversal is a smoother experience.
While there are certainly a lot of changes in the remake, there is one very important thing that has remained the same. That being the story. The Last of Us Part 1 is one of the best stories ever told throughout a video game. It's enthralling, engaging and does an excellent job of building characters and your relationships to those characters. I won't give too much away for anyone new to the franchise, but there are certain characters that your initial reaction is to dislike, but through the power of an excellently delivered story you end up feeling like you know them on a personal level. The story here is (for me) second to none so to combine that with revamped visuals really does add new meaning to the word immersive.
The only stumbling block I see for players will be that price tag, especially if you've bought the game twice before, another $100+ is gonna sting a little. and honestly, I say the complaints about the price are pretty fair to be honest. While I fully understand that a lot of work has gone into making this game the best it can be, its a lot of money and may be enough to put a lot of people off. One thing I don't agree with however are the claims that this is a "cash grab". I understand the frustration, however its simply a case of bringing one of the best games to a whole new generation of gamers and the time and effort that Naughty Dog have put in comes at a cost. I do just think a slightly more affordable price point would have sat a little better with gamers.
Overall, if you're new to the TLOU franchise, then do yourself a favour and buy yourself one of the best games ever made, because TLOU truly is up there with the very best of the best. If, like me, you've played it before, then you have to decide for yourself if you can justify the $100+ upgrade. Hell this the 3rd version of the game I’ve played now and guess what. I still loved every moment of it. The suspenseful gameplay and epic story are enough to keep me coming back for more and the visuals take this amazing game, and propel it to another level for a whole new generation of gamers to enjoy at the very best it can be.