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The Last of Us Remastered review

Tom Morgan
12 Aug 2014
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
The Last of Us Remastered box art
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
38
inc VAT

Impeccable storytelling and some of the most intense action of the last console generation, beautifully updated for the PS4

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Specifications

Available formats: PS4

If you made it through the last console generation without playing a Naughty Dog game, you were doing yourself a disservice, and no more so than with The Last of Us. Arriving just a few short months before the launch of the PS4, it pushed Sony's PlayStation 3 to the limit with its gorgeous visuals, incredibly detailed characters and expansive environments.

More importantly, it had one of the most engrossing and emotionally charged stories of any game we've played in recent years. Critically acclaimed and addictive from start to finish, it was reason enough to kick yourself for trading in your PS3 early in anticipation of the PS4. Thankfully, gamers can now redeem themselves with the Remastered Edition, which updates The Last of Us with even better graphics ready for the next generation.

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All the assets from the original game have been ported over to the Remastered version, with the rendering resolution bumped to a full 1,080p, draw distances increased, particle effects improved and the frame rate doubled to a rock-steady 60fps. As a remaster, rather than a full remake, Naughty Dog hasn't actually created anything new for this version, meaning in places it's possible to spot where older textures, character models and geometry haven't benefitted from the increase in resolution. For the most part, though, the minor upgrades add up to make an already visually impressive game simply stunning. It compares favourably with any other game currently on the PS4, even if it isn't the giant leap many fans were hoping for.

There's an option to lock the frame rate at 30fps, which frees up processing power to improve the shadow effects throughout the game. Having played the PS3 original, however, the increased frame rate is nothing short of a revelation and makes movement, character animations and combat all feel incredibly smooth. We would always take 60fps and slightly blurry shadows compared to 30fps and crisp ones.

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For the uninitiated, The Last of Us explores a post-apocalyptic USA from the perspective of Joel, a smuggler trying to survive in a world where a viral infection wiped out 60% of the global population and turned the vast majority of the rest into violent, mindless creatures. Like a horrific amalgamation of Day of the Triffids, The Walking Dead and the real-world Cordyceps fungus, the infection turns humans into Clickers - blind zombie-like monsters that hunt using sound.

Twenty years after the initial outbreak, it falls to Joel to transport young girl Ellie across the infected country in order to find a cure. We won't spoil the prologue for anyone yet to play the game, but suffice to say it sets up the character's emotional investment perfectly, paving the way to a truly emotional story.

The dilapidated buildings and abandoned towns you explore as you traverse the country look incredible, with nature slowly reclaiming the land after 20 years without human intervention. It's creepy enough in isolation, but it soon becomes clear that the infected will be the least of your worries when out on the road - setting the scene for some harrowing reveals further into the roughly 15 hour-long story.

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You could spend hours exploring every nook and cranny in each new area, with attentive players being rewarded with upgrade items to improve Joel's combat strength or his small arsenal of scavenged weapons. You'll need them, as the combat sequences that tend to follow are brutal and unforgiving. The third person perspective lets you plan your approach, ducking under cover and staying out of sight until you can strike silently. Joel's ability to visualise enemy locations based on sound lets you work out a route through a room full of Clickers, but get too close and they'll kill you in a single attack - they may be blind, but they're still deadly.

Charging in guns-blazing won't work, as ammunition is sparse - it's rare that you'll ever have enough bullets at once that you won't be constantly searching for more. You'll have to rely on vicious melee attacks and improvised weapons, crafted from the various pieces of abandoned gear peppered throughout each area, in order to survive. Once you're spotted, though, there's no substitute for a pump action shotgun or hunting rifle.

It's the tense stealth sections that create the most memorable gameplay moments, particularly when paired with the fantastic soundtrack; rain sounds different as you move from outdoors to under cover, while the subtle music score cuts out altogether during particularly brutal sequences. Unfortunately, these moments are also the one place where where the game breaks its own incredible sense of immersion. There are too many moments where your AI-controlled companions run through a room filled with Clickers or angry human hunters in order to be by your side, a move that would mean certain death if you had tried it. It was an issue in the PS3 original and it's a shame to see it repeated here.

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This is still a minor complaint, though. The Last of Us is still a sublime example of storytelling, with satisfying gameplay and plenty of reasons to play through it multiple times. There are a huge number of collectables, unlockable art galleries and upgrades to find, plus you have the option of carrying over your progress to a second playthrough to give Joel an edge on the harder difficulty settings. The single player Left Behind DLC is also included on the disc once you've finished the main game, filling in some of the plot gaps in the middle of the story as well as expanding on Ellie's backstory. 

Even the multiplayer mode lives up to the lofty heights reached by the epic single player campaign. By focusing on stealth, scavenging and brutal melee takedowns rather than all-out blasting, it matches the pace of the main game and lets you put skills learnt as Joel into practice as either a Firefly or Hunter online.

If you have yet to experience The Last of Us, we would recommend the Remastered version without reservation. It has some of the best gameplay, story and visuals of any next-generation title, despite having originally appeared on the PS3 - a testament to Naughty Dog's abilities as a developer - and is a must-buy for anyone with a PS4.

Availability
Available formatsPS4
Buying information
Price including VAT£38
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk
Detailswww.uk.playstation.com
Product codeB00LWRSJB2

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