Back in 2013, The Last of Us took the games industry by storm. Featuring state of the art graphics, finely tuned gameplay and a story that hits you right in the feels, The Last of Us was a seminal title of its generation. Fast forward to 2014, Naughty Dog and Sony remastered the game for the PlayStation 4, which featured updated graphics and performance parameters. Suffice to say that this was the best way to play the game back then. Eight years later, Naughty Dog and PlayStation, for some reason, decided to remake The Last of Us for the PlayStation 5. Ever since the game’s announcement, there has been a ton of discourse regarding this remake’s existence and whether it was needed. To be honest, there is no definite answer to that. The dilemma of whether a product has any right to exist is something that comes down to each individual’s opinion, and hence I am not going to debate that matter in my review.
Let’s get the elephant out the room first. The Last of Us Part 1 is an extremely faithful remake of the original. Naughty Dog has ensured that they keep the same story beats with some incremental upgrades in other departments. The last couple of years have seen some spectacular remakes like Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Rather than staying absolutely true to the original games’ visions, the developers consciously ensured that they were vastly different in terms of storytelling and gameplay mechanics compared. However, the enhancements those remakes bought forward cannot be compared with what Naughty Dog has done with The Last of Us Part 1. The original The Last of Us was released in an era where full blown 3D open world games were already becoming the norm, whereas the original Resident Evil 2 and Final Fantasy 7 came out in an age when 3D gaming was on the rise. So, to expect Naughty Dog to follow suit with what was done with those games is unreasonable, in my opinion.
"The very first thing you will notice is how spectacular the game now looks on the PlayStation 5."
This is not to say that The Last of Us Part 1 doesn’t feature any upgrades whatsoever. The very first thing you will notice is how spectacular the game now looks on the PlayStation 5. Built completely from the ground up for Sony’s current generation console, The Last of Us Part 1 benefits from major improvements in the animation department. Compared to the remastered version, facial expressions have a lot of weight to them, which in turn adds more emotional depth to the beautifully crafted cutscenes. It’s not a secret that The Last of Us features some of the most moving scenes in a video game, and to see them re-developed on the PS5 is a treat for the eyes. In-game animations like character movement and other actions also see a noticeable jump in quality over the original. Joel feels much more agile and natural to control, which in turn translates to better on-field combat and environmental interactions.
Besides the upgrades to animations and character movement, The Last of Us Part 1 also features noticeable improvements to environments and world assets. The outdoor environments see a massive uptick in quality thanks to increased foliage density and better texture quality. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about some of the interiors. They seem to be using lower resolution assets, though it may be down to that being an artistic choice of making the world depressed and eroded. Either way, this is ends up being a noticeable issue nevertheless.
The Last of Us Part 1 features two graphical modes- performance and fidelity. Fidelity mode pushes the game to run at 4K but a frame rate of 30. Performance mode on the other hand compromises a bit on the resolution front but doubles the frame rate to 60. Frame rate in both modes was solid in my playthrough, but performance mode was definitely my favorite mode to the play the game on. Personally, I find it difficult to go back to 30 frames per second once I experience a game at a higher frame rate. There is also an “Unlocked Frame Rate” option that can be enabled if your screen supports this feature.
"On the gameplay side of things, The Last of Us Part 1 takes a rather conservative approach when it comes to changes."
On the gameplay side of things, The Last of Us Part 1 takes a rather conservative approach when it comes to changes. The combat feels largely similar to the original, which isn’t a bad thing given how good it was. However, I would have loved to see enhanced stealth options, like going prone and crawling. I found their absence to be rather disappointing, given how those options could have enhanced the game even further. Their inclusion probably wouldn’t have impacted existing gameplay mechanics, so it’s a bit baffling that this wasn’t included, given that they remade this game from the ground-up.
Fortunately, enemy and companion AI sees a noticeable bump. Your companions won’t simply run or hide in front of enemies as frequently as they did in the original. Enemy coordination is better here, which makes the gameplay a bit more challenging, too. I can only imagine how much more challenging this game will be on its highest difficulty, which I think is going to be quite fun for players who love a bit of difficulty. Besides these improvements, everything else almost remains the same as the original. You scavenge for resources, craft items, and find new weapons. You will come across the same enemies and characters in the same way as you did in the original. The Last of Us Part 1 is the definition of a faithful remake, at least in the gameplay department. There is also a Speedrun mode that enthusiasts will love. This feature tracks your current play time per chapter along with the best time for that chapter. I am personally not a big fan of these kinds of modes, but I could totally see many players appreciating its inclusion.
As expected from a first party PlayStation game, The Last of Us Part 1 uses the DualSense’s flagship features- however, I found the implementation to be quite subpar. Of course, there is some resistance experienced in the triggers while using weapons like the bow, but for other weapons I found the experience to be quite inconsistent. For example, when I am using a shotgun, the haptics should respond in a way that passes the impact towards the player. I didn’t fing the implementation to be that impactful. Team Asobi and Astro’s Playroom still take the cake as far as DualSense implementation is concerned.
"Granted, there are some niggling issues like low resolution textures in some places and the lack of stealth-based gameplay enhancements, but The Last of Us Part 1 still remains an experience like none other. The better graphics, animations, and improved AI make the trip through this brutal post-apocalyptic world worth it again."
9 years later, The Last of Us’ gameplay still holds up well, despite the fact that improvements could have been made. It’s gory, visceral, and a ton of fun. The fact that the original was developed with such attention and care and all of that has been faithfully bought over to the remake is what makes it worth it to experience it all over again. Granted, there are some niggling issues like low resolution textures in some places and the lack of stealth-based gameplay enhancements, but The Last of Us Part 1 still remains an experience like none other. The better graphics, animations, and improved AI make the trip through this brutal post-apocalyptic world worth it again.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Game looks beautiful; Great animations; Improved player movement; Improvements in enemy and companion AI.
Lower resolution textures in some interiors; Lack of stealth gameplay enhancements; DualSense implementation is subpar.