The Last of Us. Four words that make every PlayStation player giddy as a school girl. Four words. Surely it can’t get any better than that…. Well my friend, it can. Naughty Dog have taken those four words and added a fifth: Remastered. The Last of Us: Remastered. Take a moment to repeat those words a few more times and allow them to sink in. Take a moment to remember how beautiful that game looked on the PlayStation 3. Take a moment to read my review as I tell you in several different ways how much more beautiful the Last of Us: Remastered looks on the PlayStation 4.
At the dawning of a new console generation, I know many of you, myself included, want new games, new experiences, new stories to be told. The last thing many of us want is another game “remastered”. Having played the Last of Us: Remastered, I now believe we’ve found the exception.
Before I continue, allow me to explain what “remastered” means. The original Last of Us game had a resolution of 720p, the Last of Us: Remastered has a resolution of 1080p. This means that there are roughly twice as many pixels in the Last of Us: Remastered than the original game. Not only that but the game also runs at 60fps, and yes this does make a difference. The catch here being that in some moments of the game the frame rate may drop. However, in the options menu there is an option to lock the frames rate at 30fps, and Naughty Dog have stated that doing this will increase shadow quality and performance of the game. I played for a while with this option switch on and off and found that the game looked slightly better with the frame rate lock turned on. The fluidity of the characters at 60fps is gorgeous though, so I imagine the opinion on locking the frame rate will vary greatly from player to player.
As the game booted up I was greeted by the familiar main menu: an open window with vines growing through and around it. To me it looked a little more colourful, a little more crisp, or perhaps I was just hoping that it did. Ignoring those thoughts I started a new game because after all, the improved visuals there is what matters. And so began my descent into heartbreak and awe. I hadn’t played the Last of Us since the game was released this time last year on the PlayStation 3, so I’d forgotten about the opening sequence and how quickly Naughty Dog managed to capture my emotions in those 15 minutes. I was immediately struck by how good the game looked. Shadows lay everywhere in the night-time opening sequence contrasting beautifully with everything the light touched. The character models look much more defined with all the subtle details such as the blemishes on their skins to the strands of their hair all much clearer.
Moving from the night-time opening to the quarantined zone in the day-time the changes to the game become even more apparent. The buildings, though much more vivid are also much more run down, the people more clearly dishevelled, the world much more foregone. While moving through the city environments looks fantastic, where the remastered graphics truly shine is in the wooded, wilderness areas. Nature in all its glory has never looked so good. The thriving forested areas were a stark contrast to the broken cities and towns in the original Last of Us, but now their impact seems even greater. I couldn’t help but think of Johnny Cash’s song 40 Shades of Green as I replayed the game:
Again I want to see and do,
The things we’ve done and seen,
Where the breeze is sweet as Shalimar,
And there’s forty shades of green.
Stellar graphics are not the only reason to pick up a copy of the Last of Us: Remastered, even if you own the original for the PlayStation 3. The game also comes with all the previously released DLC including Left Behind, Ellie’s prequel story to the Last of Us, and all of the online multiplayer maps. There is a behind the scenes documentary to sink your teeth into, and a new in game feature called “Photo Mode”. Similar to the photo mode in inFamous: Second Son, the player can pause the game to take a screenshot, adjust the camera angle, zoom, and orientation, add filters and borders before taking the screenshot and uploading it. Unfortunately Photo Mode wasn’t patched when I reviewed the game so I can’t tell you how well it works or show you some of my awesome screens, but rest assured I will be posting my thoughts and some photos over the coming days.
So, on to the big question, should you pick up a copy of the Last of Us: Remastered? The way I see it is that there are several categories a player can fall into, but my recommendation will always be yes.
- Those that did not play the original for the PlayStation 3, whether that is because you never picked up a copy or because you were previously an XBox player and recently joined the realm of PlayStation.
- You owned the original and really enjoyed it, but can’t find a good enough reason to justify spending another €50 on a game you already own, or simply don’t have much spare cash and would rather save it for a new game. If you’re the latter, then trust me when I say there are no other games coming out for the PlayStation 4 within the next few weeks that deserve your money more.
- You owned the original game, loved it, and are going to buy the Last of Us: Remastered regardless of what I or anyone else have to say (I appreciate you reading this review anyway).
If you don’t fall into any of the above categories it’s still worth your while buying the game. The world of the Last of Us: Remastered will hit you harder, is much more visceral, and will leave you with a new found appreciation for the team at Naughty Dog and their ability to bring such a game to life. Simply put, it is the most beautiful console game I’ve ever played.