Trying to fix what isn’t broken is typically a fool’s errand. When The Last of Us launched last year to widespread acclaim, many gamers expressed dismay that the series couldn’t have been ported to the next generation, but Naughty Dog was up to the challenge and managed to turn around an upgraded version of the game in just over a year. The Last of Us Remastered isn’t the most ambitious re-release, but it’s still an indispensable part of any PS4 owner’s library, especially those who missed it the first time around.
I covered most of the technical updates in my preview from earlier this month, so rather than rehash them in detail, I’ll discuss how they affected my time with the game. But before we get to that, I have a confession to make: I am one of the sorry souls who never picked up The Last of Us on PS3. The praise was universal, my friends all told me I needed to get around to it, and I even watched some videos, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. In many ways, I’m glad I didn’t.
The Last of Us Remastered is the way the game should be played.
Now, there aren’t any changes to the actual gameplay, at least none that stood out to me (knowing what I know and having played or seen bits and pieces of the game at various intervals over the past year) but the visual update is astonishing. Seeing both versions running side by side during the preview didn’t prepare me for just how unbelievable this last-gen port would look on the PS4.
In a linear game, it can be difficult to define the scope of the world, something that Half-Life, Journey and Uncharted have all excelled at in the past. With a greater draw distance and better textures, the post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us springs to life in a whole new way. The character models have also been revamped, allowing the artists to highlight the subtlety of emotion on the faces of the cast to even greater effect.
It’s a minor point, but one that deserves at least a passing mention in any review of a PS3 port — the DualShock 4 is an infinitely better controller, especially for precision aiming. Having the aim and fire buttons reset to L2 and R2, mapping the crafting menu to the touchpad and even the satisfying click of the flashlight emanating from the DualShock 4 speaker all make for a smoother experience throughout.
One addition to the game that surprised me most, and has subsequently distracted me every time I reach a new location, is the Photo Mode. Turning on Photo Mode will allow you to press the L3 button at any point during gameplay and immediately freeze the scene. You can then swivel the camera around, change the lighting, add a border, pump up the film grain effect or add an Instagram-worthy filter to the shot.
I’ve included a few of my questionable attempts at The Last of Us photography in the gallery below, but once more talented players get the hang of Photo Mode, I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing some gorgeous photo diaries popping up online.
As for the rest of the audiovisual differences between this remaster and the original game, go check out the preview.
There are a plenty of other reasons to pick up The Last of Us Remastered as well. First of all, it’s the complete on-disc package of the entire saga, including the two multiplayer map packs and the Left Behind story DLC, which arguably received an even more positive reaction than the full game (if that’s even possible). You’ll also be able to go behind the scenes with commentary tracks from creative director Neil Druckmann, and voice actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson.
Many reviewers might say that it’s a problem when the best game on your console is a re-release, but when that re-release is The Last of Us, it’s an entirely different story. If you haven’t experienced one of the most affecting stories in gaming yet, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not picking up The Last of Us Remastered.