However you feel about rejigged releases surfacing on new-gen hardware, it’s pretty tough to be upset at the existence of The Last of Us Remastered. Sure, The Last of Us was a damned fine game the first go-around, and Remastered will set you back about NZ$75, but it does include all the original game’s DLC including the Left Behind expansion, cutscene commentary from the developers and voice actors, a pretty cool photo mode, and a few smaller extras.
Of course, the biggest marketing bullet point is that Remastered looks much better than the vanilla game. With the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions placed side by side, it’s easy to see the work that’s been put in, and the difference is quite staggering. The Last of Us was hardly an ugly duckling when it launched on PlayStation 3 last year, but it’s been given the full 1080p treatment complete with higher resolution character models, upgraded textures, longer draw distances, and improved lighting and shadows.
The result is gameplay that visually is difficult to distinguish from the cutscenes – it really does look that good. Gone are the jaggies that occasionally cropped up on the PlayStation 3, and the game’s shadow and water effects (particularly the rain) are now simply sensational. The phrase “it’s just like playing a movie!” was uttered several times by others who dropped in on my playthrough – eat your heart out, David Cage.
The retooled visuals and effects are great, but just as good is the increased frame rate. Naughty Dog targeted 60 frames per second this time around and the result is a smoother experience with few noticeable dips.
In particular, this makes the frantic scramble that is the game’s fighting mechanics much more responsive and enjoyable – something that will be a massive boon for players of Factions, the game’s surprisingly good multiplayer mode that unfortunately wasn’t live for our review. It’s worth noting that anything you purchased for the PlayStation 3 version will be available for you in the PlayStation 4 version.
There is an option to lock the frame rate at 30 for a steadier experience with bolder, more defined shadows, but 60 is definitely the superior option, for everything except perhaps the game’s new photo mode. Again this feature wasn’t live for us, but it will be at launch. It allows players to take and share screenshots using what looks to be a pretty flexible camera system that allows depth of field adjustments and the addition of filters and frames.
A few control changes round out the list: naturally, the DualShock 4’s touchpad is now used to open Joel’s backpack, the light bar changes colour as your health diminishes, and the speaker plays audio logs and other close proximity sounds. Nothing groundbreaking here, but more is more. Elsewhere, there is the making of documentary for Grounded, and that’s about it.
That means the same few flaws of the original carry across, the biggest being the companion AI behaviour during stealth sections and battles, which fortunately has no bearing on the game, just the immersion.
Earlier this month, Sony claimed that most PlayStation 4 owners had not played The Last of Us. How it can know something like that is a mystery, but if it's true, obviously these people should purchase Remastered as soon as humanly possible, for it’s the best version of a watershed game.
For those that have played the game already, the equation is trickier. Personally, I think it’s worth it just to play a better-looking version of Left Behind if you haven’t already, and I’m enjoying revisiting the core game on Grounded difficulty, after all, this is the best version of one of the best games ever.