PS4s First Killer App
I was never too big on The Last of Us when I initially saw it, played it and was told it was the ‘greatest game of all time’ on nearly every single gaming site. I confess that I was apathetic to the title as I am with most AAA developed games, not settling for the hype that typically surrounds games of that Ilk. It was a victim of poor timing for me, with me playing it in smaller chunks and not really taking in the charms the game offered. Oh was I wrong…
Set years after a viral apocalypse that sees the infected feasting on the living, TLoU departs from the schlock horror associated with ‘the Z word’, instead following the modern trend in telling a poignant tale in a desolate world. Without delving too far into the plot (as this one you should want to experience yourself), the game revolves around Joel and his living cargo, Ellie, as they proceed cross-country, with many characters and turns along the way. As far as storytelling goes, gaming should take more than a page or two from Naughty Dog’s bleak notepad; it’s fantastic. Blending both subtle and implicit storytelling seamlessly via scraps of notes, conversations and cinematics, The Last of Us is not just a compelling story, it’s also told in a near perfect manner when it comes down to pace and content. In addition to this, The Last of Us is excellent at making the player question their morals, with no clear good or bad, paladin or renegade, just a sense of doing what needs to be done. Not many games have made me question just what I’ve been doing through a game and this title is a fine example of that.
On the surface The Last of Us would fall into the action-adventure genre, similar to Uncharted or Tomb Raider. This is true for the most part, as a large portion of the game involves planting bullets into the rambling undead or malevolent hunters, mixing climbing, shooting and taking cover, with a prevalent sense of action. Scratch under the surface and the games sense of depth becomes more than apparent. The Last of Us is an excellent survival horror, with emphasis on scarce resources and managing health. The Last of Us is an excellent stealth game, pushing players to carefully plan their actions or avoid certain enemies altogether. The Last of Us is an excellent shooter, with satisfying combat and adequate challenge. Even the crafting mechanics are better than most other games. It’s just excellent all round, even doing gameplay styles better than the dedicated AAA titles of their respective genres. Simply put, Naughty Dog have put a lot of developers and publishers to shame with their latest release.
On the presentation front, Naughty Dog haven’t just set the bar high, they’ve made it so other publishers will stumble trying to achieve anything similar. Graphically, the game is just a blissful wonder for the eyes, even with the bleak imagery and dilapidation. High graphical fidelity is just half of the equation, the aesthetics of the game are so detailed and full of personality that its rather easy to be lost in the wounded world players will be traversing. The PS4 more than helps push the dial to eleven, elevating a game that left both gamers and developers baffled on how such a great looking game could exist on PS3. Despite being a last gen game, The Last of Us Remastered is one of the few games that really holds the title of looking ‘next gen’, especially with the added bonus of 1080p/60fps, making everything as smooth as butter. Although, for those who are fans of the original, there is even an option to lock the game at 30fps, for players who wish to do so.
Utilising the musical prowess of Gustavo Sataollala, anyone who plays the game is in for some tantalizing sounds caressing their eardrums. Melancholy acoustic melodies line the crux of the soundtrack, with heavier percussive moments as the action picks up and softer tones as the heat dies down. From Joel’s beating heart to Ellie’s fourth-wall-breaking comments, everything sounds excellent, presented in the utmost quality. This is a game where the moments are made all the more memorable thanks to the impactful soundtrack.
Remastering of this gem has also led to some nifty additions here and there. The PS4 controller light bar is a fine example of this, being contextual to what is being performed; health, danger and Joel’s sonar are all represented with varying colours. ‘Grounded’ mode is another small addition to the game, adding a mode that isn’t just hard, it strips away everything that helps players (HUD, ammo count, health bar) and attempts to make The Last of Us Remastered as realistic as possible. It also changes the game completely as a result, making it a well-deserved way for players to make a second go of the story, only serving to increase the base ten-twelve hour experience the game offers already.
Along with the stand alone game, this edition includes all DLC – Left Behind and Factions Multiplayer packs – as well as the online component. Left Behind offers a prologue to the events of the main game, with even more tears to be shed and exploration to be had. Unlike most games, the online is not tacked on, being fleshed out to a point that could rival the larger multiplayer games on the market. Players are able to join factions, progress through a series of challenges and complete a mini-campaign for both sides, all whilst finding more people for their teams. Surprisingly, the main gameplay elements of the single player campaign work just as well as the online mode. Without a doubt an excellent addition to the game and a place to spend even more time skulking around dark corners.
With the current drought of games hitting current gen consoles, The Last Of us Remastered isn’t just an essential purchase for those who never played its original incarnation, it’s also worthy for returning players to shell out the budget asking price to experience the game in a more magnanimous way. I consider myself lucky in a sense, if I were to have enjoyed The Last of Us more so when it lit up my PS3 moons ago, I would not be as addled with love for the game as I have been with its remastered counterpart. The Last of Us is a piece of art, that much is certain, it does what many fail to do and manages to see that every aspect of its offering be superb. There is no reason for you to not buy this game.