It’s been just over a year since The Last of Us bid farewell to the PlayStation 3 era with what was unmistakably one of the greatest games of the period. Not a lot of time has passed, but a lot has changed in the 13 months since then. Most notably, the PS4 has released, opening up a door to new possibilities. As technically proficient as The Last of Us was, it fell off the list of best-looking games only months after release. Naughty Dog knew that would happen, and immediately began work on a PS4 port.
The Last of Us Remastered is supposed to bridge the gap between the PS3 and PS4, giving PlayStation gamers something to bite into during the drought-filled first year, while also affording those who—mistakenly—missed out on The Last of Us the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. And really, it does just that.
I’m happy to say that everything that made The Last of Us a smash hit has been preserved in this remaster. From start to finish, everything feels as tidy as a Naughty Dog game should; there are no major bugs or issues to speak of that have emerged during the game’s travel to 2014. Controlling Joel as he braves the overwhelming challenges of a post-apocalyptic United States is as gripping as it was a year ago. Put simply, this isn’t a game that jeopardizes the quality of the original. Instead, it builds upon it to make it even better.
Although the core gameplay hasn’t changed, there are some minor additions, mostly in the form of optional DualShock 4 features. The use of the Light Bar to indicate player health, and the speaker’s use for tape recorder audio and flashlight sound effects are small accents that remind you that we’re now in the eighth generation of consoles . While these two previously mentioned additions aren’t particularly impactful, the improvements to the controls are. The Touch Pad is now used to open Joel’s backpack, which is much easier to press than Select in the PS3 version. Additionally, a L2/R2 aim and fire control scheme has been added, and in tandem with the ergonomic PS4 controller makes for a much better time during the game’s thoughtfully crafted combat sections. These improvements go a long way toward making The Last of Us Remastered feel good in the hands.
The visuals in The Last of Us Remastered are absolutely stunning. The upgrade to a 1080p resolution has killed much of the aliasing of the game, bringing clarity to what was already a phenomenal looking game. I’d go as far as to say that the cutscenes here are the best in any game ever made. The already superb animations have now been given more finely detailed character models, making for one remarkable spectacle. Made better, 60 FPS support (the PS3 version ran at 30 FPS) makes it extremely pleasant on the eyes. Although frame drops can occur during certain situations, especially when molotov cocktails and other lighting intense objects are in the environment, it remains steady for 99% of the experience.
Although Naughty Dog is an extremely capable developer, there are frequent hints that this is a game that originally debuted on the PS3. Issues with alpha and post-processing show blemish on what is otherwise a beautiful game. Also, it appears that the development team was unable to push high-quality shadows along with the 60 FPS display. As such, there is a 30 FPS lock option in the settings which limits the framerate, but remedies the occasional blocky shadows that stick out like a sore thumb. Truthfully, as much as the shadows stand out as the biggest inconsistency in the presentation, if you aren’t looking for them you might not notice. Just be sure to check for them before taking screenshots in Photo Mode, or enable the 30 FPS lock and call it a day.
Speaking of which, Photo Mode might actually be the most surprisingly awesome thing about the package. Not only can you take screenshots of your game experience and easily share them with the world, but you can tune the camera angle and other settings to make professional quality images. Since The Last of Us Remastered is a graphical showcase—similar to inFamous: Second Son—, you are sure to encounter moments that are Share button friendly.
In terms of content, the inclusion of multiplayer map packs and the Left Behind DLC adds several extra hours of gameplay. The Grounded difficulty mode is also included for the challenge hungry. The only disappointment is that the Director’s Commentary is only accessible through the cinematics gallery, meaning you can’t play the game while listening to Neil Druckmann, Troy Baker, and Ashley Johnson. Oh, and there’s no way to resume where you last left off with the Grounded: The Making of The Last of Us documentary—just watch it on YouTube. Chances are you won’t even bother.
Also See: 30 vs 60 FPS Shadows Comparison
More than anything, The Last of Us Remastered is made specifically for the people who missed out on The Last of Us the first time around. This is the definitive version of last year’s Game of the Year, but not necessarily the kind of package that is a must-have for those who already made the captivating trip from start to finish. As much as I loved my PS3 playthrough, what’s here is a bit too familiar to make it as big of a deal as I was hoping for.
Nonetheless, The Last of Us is one of the greatest games of the last decade. That’s reason alone to make this a great addition to the PS4 library.
Jonathan Leack is the Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @jleack.
Copy provided by publisher. The Last of Us Remastered is a PS4 exclusive.