Two weeks ago I booted up The Last of Us Remastered with a bitter taste in my mouth – I was repeating the actions I had made little over a year ago. A week later, after fighting through a fungus filled America again, my love for the world and characters that Naughty Dog previously introduced me to has been rekindled.
This is the same game for a new generation of consoles, which means the already gorgeous world now looks how you probably thought it looked at the time. As a Ps3 game, it is limited, but it is has been given just enough gloss to keep it relevant for the graphics-hungry horde out there. It runs smoothly on Ps4 and the game is as beautiful as ever, although this is largely due to the art and direction of the game and not the polygon count – that said, the game has nothing to be shy about graphically. During my first play through the frame rate did struggle once for no apparent reason –there was not an enemy in sight, and I was only walking down a corridor – but on the whole the game runs smoothly. Perhaps it is a little too smooth.
The first thing I realised while playing was how perfect the sound design is. I liked the sound last year, but since the Ps4 turned up with a headphone jack in the controller I have religiously used headphones to play videogames, and my god, never have I noticed how much that made a difference until now. Gustavo Santaolalla’s guitar elicits tones that would be at home in a western, as crickets noise-off in the distance and the clickers – oh, the clickers sound more menacing than they look with their animalistic noise that sounds like a duck, a saw and a stalker whispering to you down a fuzzy telephone line – have been mixed down to one terrifying track. The sound direction is flawless.
All the great things of the game remain intact: brilliantly dramatic use of cuts; the subversive videogame characters and the questionable actions they make; precisely paced story and gameplay.
In discussions about the game, people fail to notice just how simple the game is. It is the foil of Michael Bay-inspired tripe such as Call of Duty, and its simplicity intensifies the tensions and terrors felt in a fallen society; deaths and decisions have a profound impact on the player, and Naughty Dog make good use of the player’s omniscient view to ensure questions are raised throughout the proceedings.
The simplicity of the gameplay is a display of videogames’ prowess. In The Last of Us, most of the game involves you clearing or escaping a room full of enemies – be it infected or humans. You are given a set of tools – from a small variety of guns to upgrade and bombs and melee weapons for you to craft – and can go about the encounter as you wish: use stealth and keep your resources for more testing encounters? Go in guns blazing and use up precious ammo? Sneak by the aforementioned clickers who, like bats, use sound to scout their surroundings? For the most part, the game lets you choose.
Great games do this: they give you a set of tools and in-game laws and let you get on with it. Just get on with!
While refraining from giving too much of the story away, let’s just say it involves a fungal virus that makes not-quite-zombies out of people, one girl who is immune to said virus, and a whole lot of loss in a world gone to shit. The game is full of twists and turns that the player must experience themselves; however, these are not Shyamalan twists and turns, they are simple, unexpected events that grab the player.
Despite all the praise, the game has its flaws. It suffers from a few collision detection and clipping issues here and there. There is a reliance on mundane grab‑a‑plank‑from‑here‑and‑move‑it‑over‑there puzzles, which has led to me creating this spoof. There are two encounters that could be considered ‘boss levels,’ but the game largely avoids such game design clichés.
The remastered version of the game also introduces the Left Behind DLC – for those who did not pick it up a few months back – and a photo mode.
Left Behind is a lovely addition, but it probably does not offer enough for fans of the main game’s action; the focus here is nearly entirely based on character development. It tells a very nice story, and for those who enjoyed the optional conversations and discussions about Ellie’s past, this will keep you satisfied.
I spent hours losing myself to the photo mode: the options provided are limited but enough to take in the scenery and really embrace the world Naughty Dog created. Just, for your own good, do not turn this function on during your first play through. Nothing ruins a taught and intimate first time experiencing like being able to zoom in and out, using a noir effect and then framing it with love hearts. If I had used this feature last year, I fear it would have affected the emotional journey the game took me on.
The faction based multiplayer is also a worthy of your time. However, I fear my patience for multiplayer games is slipping, as not even the feature of caring and providing for your clan and progressing through the hunter or Firefly story can hold me for long. But for multiplayer enthusiasts, there is a lot to be found here.
So here we are, a year later, playing the same game as last year and thoroughly enjoying it. Shame this and GTA V are the most exciting games coming to Ps4 this year.
Oh, and Naughty Dog, you have a lot to live up to with Uncharted 4. Good luck with that one.
The Chef’s perfect cut.
Please consult the rating guide.