The Last of Us – Remastered
The timing of a new console’s launch can mean a lot of developers release a game on an older machine instead of an optimum one. For the most part, this is usually an accepted fact but quite often there are games that warrant a re-release, a trend we’re seeing more and more of on today’s consoles. From the brilliant Tomb Raider reboot, to the upcoming Sleeping Dogs and Grand Theft Auto V ports it seems that everyone is getting the chance to play some of last-gen’s greatest late releases. Naughty Dog’s the Last of US was an amazing title and if ever there was a game that deserved a re-release, this is it. Thankfully, The Last of Us Remastered has arrived on PlayStation 4 looking gorgeous, evoking emotions and running at 60 frames.
The Last of Us tells the story of Joel and Ellie, two survivors of a fungal apocalypse. The game opens with Joel’s daughter, Sarah, awaking in the middle of the night. There are loud noises outside, and she calls out to her father to find out what’s going on. Not hearing a response, she wanders the house looking for him. While most games deliver a pretty by-the-numbers game intro, The Last of Us takes the time to present us with both a more realistic and cinematic intro. Sarah getting up and stretching, as well as rubbing her eyes when she walks is amazingly realistic of someone still not fully awake. There are also explosions in the distance that can be viewed when walking past windows. Unlike other games, The Last of Us doesn’t make a major point of background events like the explosions, they are simply there and the player becomes much more immersed for it. The combination of realistic animations and realistic game direction in The Last of Us is extremely impressive. I won’t go into too much more detail, but even the game’s introduction has more life and drama to it than most other games have in their entirety.
Fast forward past the intro to 20 years later, where Joel is living in a community of survivors. The cities are no longer safe, and those who have survived the apocalypse and events since live in slum like quarantine areas, which are surrounded by massive fences and “protected” by armed guards. Joel works as a smuggler with his friend Tess. They track down a local gangster to recover a stolen weapons cache. The gangster reveals that he traded the goods to a resistance group known as the Fireflies. When they track Marlene (the leader of the Fireflies) down, she says she will double the weapons cache if they agree to smuggle a girl outside the quarantine zone to a group of Fireflies that are waiting. Joel agrees.
I’m sure by now you have figured out that the girl is Ellie, The Last of Us’ other main character. While on their journey throughout the quarantine zone, Ellie reveals to Joel that she was attacked by an infected, but has not “turned” like other victims. Ellie becomes one of the most important assets to the future of mankind. Could her body contain the cure that they had hoped for?
There is much more to the story than a simple tale of survival against The Last of Us’ version of the zombie apocalypse. In fact, The Last of Us‘ story both outperforms and dwarfs other games’ stories by comparison. Where other games have one or two scenes amidst a barrage of action scenes to create the illusion of emotional investment (I’m looking at you Call of Duty with your London bombing scene in Modern Warfare 3!) The Last of Us genuinely allows the player to empathise with its main characters. The story also deals with topics that other games don’t (or have attempted to unsuccessfully) such as survival, guilt, grief and suicide. While the pseudo father-daughter relationship that Joel and Ellie begin to form throughout the story may have felt predictable to me at first, it was the way that Naughty Dog had created that saw me emotionally invest in the story. By the end of the game I had two characters that I genuinely cared about, the last game I remember to have that effect on me was Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead.
While The Last of Us offers a drama set in a dilapidated landscape it still very much offers its fair share of action and stealth gameplay. Frequently throughout Joel and Ellie’s journey together the player will have to evaluate combat scenarios. Is it better to sneak past the enemy, or to try and take them out one by one with stealth? Do we have enough ammo just to openly engage in gunfire? Of course, stealth has its tactics and advantages, such as being able to choke out enemies from behind, or to shiv them (if the player has a shiv left). You can also throw bricks, bottles and other things to distract them, though this can be a trickier affair when dealing with the infected.
There is also some crafting in the game, though don’t get too excited, Minecraft fans. This is survival at its most basic, meaning that if you encounter fabric you might be able to create a bandage, or if you’re extremely lucky you can create a shiv or Molotov cocktail from different ingredients.
While the action is fun, it’s the story and its characters that really steal the show in The Last of Us. Joel and Ellie’s relationship is touching, even moving, and few other games in recent times have managed to make gamers actually care about its characters. It isn’t just the fantastic writing to thank for that, but also the amazingly-detailed animations and voice acting found in the game as well. Troy Baker is excellent as always a Joel, and while I wasn’t familiar with Ashley Johnson as a voice actress beforehand she certainly shines in The Last of Us. There are also a number of other fantastic voice actors providing voices for the game including Laura Bailey, Nolan North and Jennifer Hale.
While The Last of Us was already an amazing game (and quite possibly the best game on the PlayStation 3), The Last of Us Remastered really is the definitive version of the game, with more detailed characters, numerous patches and animation refinement, as well as the game running at 1080p and running at 60 frames a second. It might not sound like much, but when you compare it to the PlayStation 3’s 720p graphics at 30 frames a second, it certainly makes a difference. It’s also a constant 60 frames a second, which runs like a dream compared to Tomb Raider which jumps from 30 to 60 depending on a number of factors. Somehow the perfect game just got a little more perfect.
- Amazing story
- Looks fantastic and runs brilliantly
While a lot of people might be protesting current-gen re-releases (and for the record, there will be too many) The Last of Us really is a game that everyone should experience. It’s perfect across the board and will easily be one of the most memorable experiences a gamer (and non-gamer) can have.