The Last of Us Part I
“Though its visual upgrades feel superfluous, The Last of Us Part I makes key innovations in accessibility that’ll allow more players to enjoy a permanent classic.”
- Story remains to be powerful
- Left Behind has aged splendidly
- Some notable tech boosts
- Bonus modes add replay value
- Landmark accessibility
- Hardly a remake
- Pricey for what’s offered
After taking a couple of years off from gaming, I purchased a PS4 in 2014. It got here bundled with a free copy of The Last of Us Remastered, a game I didn’t know much about outside of its sterling fame amongst critics. Lower than every week later, I discovered myself observing my TV, my mouth hanging open as I processed the sport’s stunning final hour. “So, that is what video games can do,” I assumed to myself. My previously narrow view of the medium as escapist entertainment was smashed wide open like a golf club to a skull.
Lots has modified about video games between then and the discharge of The Last of Us Part I, Sony’s latest PS5 remake of a PS3 classic that got a PS4 upgrade. While it was a revelation even still in 2014, developers have since taken its coveted blood and injected it into every thing from God of War to Tomb Raider. Returning to the PS5 glow-up eight years after I first played the remaster feels a bit like going back to 1985’s Super Mario Bros. While many games I play today have its DNA, it’ll at all times be patient zero.
The Last of Us Part I shows that Naughty Dog’s gritty motion game remains to be a permanent classic that hasn’t aged a day. Though that’s largely because Sony won’t allow it to, as evidenced by a mostly superfluous remake that doesn’t meaningfully improve on the sport’s perfectly modern (and less expensive) 2014 remaster. Nevertheless, the project does once more push the industry forward in a very important way: by raising the bar for accessibility in gaming’s past, present, and future.
Still one of the best
The Last of Us Part I is a difficult game to critique for a wide range of reasons that’ll grow to be clear shortly. Irrespective of what number of philosophical gripes I actually have with your entire idea of the remake’s existence, it’s still one of the best version of what I’d consider the best video game of the 2010s. Purely specializing in the text, it stays an exceptional experience that few games have fully replicated — including its own sequel.
The sport tells the story of Joel, a father surviving alone during a zombie-like apocalypse after his daughter is killed. Long after that tragedy, Joel takes on a job to move a chunk of precious cargo across the country. That cargo is Ellie, a young girl who’s seemingly proof against the disease that turns humans into fungus-infested “clickers.” Perverting the fatherly ideal of the “protector,” Joel begins to treat Ellie like an unwitting surrogate daughter on his journey to deliver her to a gaggle called the Fireflies.
The focused nature of The Last of Us remains to be the sport’s best trait.
The brilliance of The Last of Us has at all times been in the way in which it preys on the player’s perception of video game protagonists. We assume Joel is a hero, because games largely place us in the sport of the righteous good guy. The Last of Us pushes players to reexamine that concept, using the concept of the unreliable narrator to flip our once-accepted truths about video game language on their head. It’s an concept that only works in addition to it does due to its interactive nature that puts the player accountable for Joel’s actions – something the series’ upcoming TV adaptation may have to work around.
The enduring power of its devastating story is contingent on the moment when players look down and see the blood on their very own hands. It lures players in with sickly satisfying stealth kills and gun combat (complete with gory violence that’s all of the more glorious with enhanced visuals and a crisp 60 frames per second) before leading them to a horrific finale that re-contextualizes your entire game. Some find it to be an affordable trick. Others proceed to miss the purpose entirely by rallying behind Joel as a lovable hero. No matter where you fall, it’s still the rare big-budget video game that’s cognizant of how play itself can deliver the message.
It’s especially illuminating returning to the sport after 2020’s The Last of Us Part II, a game this re-release is clearly capitalizing on. The sequel is bloated in comparison with its predecessor’s sleek story. It tries to ask messy questions on the cyclical nature of violence, but can’t help but include a Latest Game+ mode where you get to maintain all of your cool guns in one other playthrough. The focused nature of The Last of Us remains to be the sport’s best trait, with impactful story beats interwoven with shining moments of tense stealth, zombie horror, and cinematic motion.
Actually, the most important revelation in the brand new package is just how incredible the sport’s Left Behind DLC still is, which also gets a makeover here. The 2-hour story about Ellie scavenging for medicine in an abandoned mall stands up as certainly one of Naughty Dog’s finest games in its own right. The bonus episode balances the tender and the tragic moments of human life, all while hitting one of the best mechanical beats of the most important game in a more concise package that’s memorable from end to finish.
When you’ve never played any version of The Last of Us, Part I preserves its power while adding a fresh sheen. If you will have played it before, that’s a completely different conversation.
Pretty for a price
It’s hard to not feel cynical concerning the project when moving beyond the confines of the text itself. Positioned as a ground-up remake and priced at $70 like a latest PS5 release, The Last of Us Part I struggles to justify its own existence in lots of respects. It feels disingenuous to call it a remake considering how few of its improvements make a meaningful difference over its 2014 remaster. It’s like watching a 4K restoration of a movie: It won’t change anything about your relationship to the work, just clean off your window to it.
The Last of Us was never good due to particle effects.
The Last of Us Part I is undoubtedly a better-looking game than the 2014 version. Fire ferociously billows through the streets in its harrowing opening sequence. Landscapes emphasize the sweetness still present in the sport’s hellish world with awe-inspiring graphical fidelity. Faces are more expressive, bringing extra power to moments like Ellie’s gut-wrenching final confrontation with Joel. And every thing happens in a much cleaner 60 frames per second, making the motion feel faster and more fluid than ever.
So why did nothing about my experience change?
After playing the remake’s iconic intro, I immediately fired up the remaster, streaming it off of PS Plus via the cloud. For my first jiffy, the difference felt significant. Every little thing was somewhat more unnatural throughout the game’s opening cutscene, from the more digital faces to the choppy framerate. After which I gained control. Inside no time, my mind adapted to the visuals and I finished feeling the frame dip entirely. My brain filled within the gaps and my response to the scene that unfolded was equivalent, more billowy flames be damned.
I spoke with my co-worker Tomas Franzese about my experience, questioning why I wasn’t wowed by features just like the game’s radically improved particle effects. He replied, “The Last of Us was never good due to particle effects.”
He’s right. The Last of Us Remastered doesn’t look photorealistic, but who cares? When I feel back to my experience with it, its technical output isn’t what sticks with me. It’s the atmosphere, the thoroughly imagined dystopian world, the emotional relationship with how I’m enabling Joel’s misguided quest. I might need had opinions on its sometimes clueless A.I. on the time (which is drastically improved in Part I), but any critiques have long since melted away. And once I speak about The Last of Us Part I in one other 10 years, I sure as hell won’t praise and even remember the variety of particles on screen.
The remake largely looks like a marketing opportunity for Sony, capitalizing on the sport’s upcoming TV adaptation with a dear upgrade. It does that without making any meaningful changes that alter my relationship to the work, something excellent remakes like Shadow of the Colossus or Demon’s Souls do. Latest features like companions having higher exposure awareness will make for an excellent Game Developers Conference talk, but they won’t make someone who’s played the unique feel like they’ve correctly spent their money.
I don’t mean to undermine the passionate work that’s gone into rebuilding The Last of Us Part I. Naughty Dog has transformed a two-generations old game into a contemporary marvel. It has even included nifty latest features, like permadeath and speedrun modes, that’ll give old fans a latest reason to play. But one of the best remakes preserve the sensation of playing a game when it first released, making it look as impressive because it did on the time. The Last of Us Part I does feel similar to I remember it in 2014. But that’s since it is.
Accessibility in hindsight
There may be one thing that’s modified for me between playing the remaster and remake: I’ve since grow to be extremely nearsighted. After I played the sport in 2014, I sat ten feet away from a 42-inch 1080p Vizio screen crookedly mounted on my wall and will see every detail. I played The Last of Us Part I on a 55-inch 4K TCL display from five feet away and needed to lean forward if I desired to get a transparent have a look at it.
The remake goes to permit individuals who were physically unable to play the sport a probability to experience it for the primary time.
That’s where the remake’s actual improvement comes into play. The Last of Us Part I features a large suite of accessibility options that allow fans to tailor the experience to their needs. A few of those options are easy, like increasing caption sizes. Others are groundbreaking, like the flexibility to enable spoken audio descriptions for cutscenes. The remake goes to permit individuals who were physically unable to play the sport a probability to experience it for the primary time. Frankly, that’s more necessary than any facial hair texture.
I can’t begin to guess how effectively the sport will cater to each player, but I can let you know about my very own experience. Before starting the sport, I went into the menus and started picking options like I used to be ordering sushi from a menu. I knew my hurdles could be visual, so I bumped up the scale of the HUD elements to start out — a seemingly fundamental option that some games still lack. But what really got me excited was the long list of audio cues I could enable. As an illustration, lootable items are often marked with a small white triangle button prompt. Relatively than straining to see it, I could toggle on an audio cue that will ding like a Wheel of Fortune board once I was near something I could grab.
I could make another cues tactile because of the DualSense controller. Often aiming could be tricky in a game like this, as I can sometimes have trouble clearly specializing in a faraway goal. Here, I used to be capable of enable a mild vibration any time my crosshairs were lined up with an enemy, letting me know I used to be where I desired to be. The innovations go even deeper. One incredible option translates all dialogue to haptic vibrations, allowing players to feel how lines are being delivered. My eyesight condition is minor (and I can easily toss on a pair of glasses to resolve it, unlike some visually impaired players), but with just over half a dozen options, I could easily play The Last of Us Part I just in addition to I played The Last of Us Remastered.
Accessibility isn’t only about settings in a menu. It must be baked into the sport’s game design from the start, and naturally that’s not going to occur with a 1:1 remake of a 10-year-old game. There are some misfires here, like treating game speed reduction (a key accessibility tool) as a bonus unlockable. And albeit, it’s somewhat gross to think that players who need the sport’s upgrades may have to pay $70 to get them while others can experience the comparable remaster for $20. But what Naughty Dog has done here is admirable, taking a canonical classic that’s quintessential to gaming history and attempting to make it a more inclusive experience. If it’s going to be a game that’s discussed for many years to come back, more people must find a way to get into the conversation.
My critiques of The Last of Us Part I are largely philosophical, but those feel small when stacked up against the truly necessary work that’s been done here. When you’ve already played The Last of Us and feel outraged over what the remake offers, consider that it doesn’t should be for you.
The Last of Us Part I used to be tested on a PS5 attached to a TCL 6-Series R635 TV.