Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: 09/02/2022
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I played the original game back when it was released and it really left an impact on the gaming world as a whole. The characters were incredibly memorable, the acting was otherworldly, and the setting Naughty Dog created was just barely scratched. It was one of the last Sony exclusives for the PS3 and was an excellent send-off for the system. It pushed the system to its limits and sometimes it showed a little too much. The game was later remastered for PS4, and while I own it, I never got past the second chapter. I’m glad I didn’t as I might not have bothered with this remake.
The largest difference here is the visuals. They are clearly made using The Last of Us II engine and everything looks next-gen. Compared to the PS3 it’s like night and day. Subtle facial expressions, eye movements, and emotions come across the characters like never before. High-res textures, fantastic lighting, HDR and 4K support, and much more. This is a next-gen treat if there was one. There are some quality-of-life improvements such as controls, animations, loot, and weapon balancing, and fantastic use of the DualSense controller. Let me tell you, this was my first experience with the controller and it felt so good. It’s hard to go back to shooters without this function enabled. Weapons cause the triggers to bounce and recoil physically affecting the way you shoot. Arrows being drawn have a lot of tension depending on what character you’re using. It’s incredibly immersive.
Outside of the remake stuff and next-gen touches, the game is exactly the same. We get the Left Behind DLC thrown in as well which is nice. There are a lot of extras such as interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, skins, models, concept art, and filters. Most of it is the same. There are a ton of collectibles in the game that can unlock trophies. I used a guide during my playthrough to find them all as they can be hidden pretty well. They give a lot of insight into the day-to-day what’s going on in the world that you don’t see. Similar to the computers in Fallout.
If you haven’t played the game yet then you are in for a treat, as this is one of the best single-player games ever made. However, some of the flaws of the game still carry over. For starters, the actual world that you’re in isn’t explored enough. Location wise we get a lot of different settings, abandoned rural neighborhoods, cities, hospitals, shopping malls, schools, and probably every common setting you can think of. What we don’t get our stories within this world that you can see or hear. You don’t come across a lot of people in this game and when you do they are part of the main story. Your entire goal is to get Ellie to the Fireflies’ base for a specific reason that I won’t spoil. Sadly, there’s not much in between. There is a seemingly pointless second act in which you are captured by a group of people that only seems to be filler. They don’t impact the overall main story but just feel like an unnecessary obstacle to get through.
The combat itself is great in terms of shooting. There are a good amount of weapons and you will have a well-balanced loadout from a flamethrower to pistols, shotguns, and bolt-action rifles. There are a few different types of enemies in the game ranging from humans (Hunters) to different levels of cordyceps monsters such as Stalkers, Clickers, and Bloaters. Stealth is a large part of the game, but you don’t have to follow this. It’s best to conserve ammo as you will always barely have enough and usually run out after every encounter until much later in the game when you have a lot of weapons to switch from. Clickers can’t be stealth killed without shivs that can break. You can shoot them with your bow as that’s the only silent weapon you get, but arrows are scarce. It’s best to just avoid these. You need to lightly push up on the analog stick while crouching as they are sensitive to sound. Throwing bricks or bottles to distract them is another good strategy.
These Clicker-focused stealth sections are incredibly intense. The Clickers are some of the best video game monsters ever created. They are iconic. Their signature “clicking” sound is where they get their name from. Surprisingly these encounters aren’t very frequent. You only run into Clickers maybe once per chapter and most are in the first third of the game. As the game progresses you are mostly up against humans and these guys can be killed from behind, but come in large numbers. Stealth in this game is not the greatest. Enemies usually start swarming you all at once and spread out slowly. It requires a lot of patience to either pass everyone or take them all out silently. It’s stupid to just shoot everyone until later in the game when you can spare the ammo.
There are only a couple of boss fights in the game and they are pretty good they take skill and strategy to beat. There are a lot of fun scripted events as well including quite a few well-placed quick-time events. There really aren’t any puzzles in the game outside of figuring out where a specific item in the area you need is. There is nothing cerebral about this game, however. I found the hardest parts of the game were the stealth sections. Upgrading your stats and weapons helps a lot, but you have to be thorough in looting and searching around to find parts. You can craft shivs, smoke bombs, grenades, health kits, and molotovs. These can be done on the fly in your bag, but upgrades require the use of workbenches and there are only about a dozen in the entire game. You also need to find tools to increase your skill level to install better upgrades. Make sure you don’t miss those.
Overall, The Last of Us Part 1 is one of gaming’s greatest single-player games. Ellie and Joel are amazing characters who go through what it means to be human multiple times over. From the intense opening scene to the cliffhanger ending, there’s so much packed in here and it’s done so well. The upgraded visuals and quality-of-life improvements are good enough to justify this as a remake. Some of the story pacing issues still exist and we don’t get to explore or hear more about this post-apocalyptic world. There are plenty of collectibles, and extras and the Left Behind DLC is a nice bonus as well. This is a fantastic remake and should be played by every PlayStation fan.