Sunday 28 December 2014

The Last of Us Remastered Review - Saving the best until Last (again)

Naughty Dog brings the PS3's finest hour to PS4 with The Last of Us Remastered

Published 13/08/2014 | 11:44

The Last of Us on PS4
The Last of Us on PS4

THE title of “remastered” was carefully chosen for this PS4 version of The Last of Us, Naughty Dog’s survival horror classic. In the music world, “remastered” has come to mean a modern sheen applied to a seminal work, with a few bonuses thrown in. Think The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper with extra tracks.

THE LAST OF US REMASTERED, PS4, RATING: 10/10, AGE: 18+

Make no mistake, this is Naughty Dog’s Sgt Pepper, a superlative adventure with subtly drawn characters, all wrapped in the template of an action game in which a plague has laid suddenly waste to the world.

As the title indicates, though, the PS4 edition doesn’t fix the original’s flaws nor try rewrite the story. You get all the PS3 version’s DLC including multiplayer maps and an interesting if fleeting single-player side mission called Left Behind.

Strictly speaking, there’s nothing new here save for updated visuals. Yet it’s testament to the powerful art of the PS3 version that it’s difficult to see much if any PS4 enhancement in its palette of a continent’s ruined beauty. Even though it runs at 60fps in 1080P, TLOUR looks much the same to my eye as it did when it wowed us one year ago.

TLOU1.jpg 

But then the graphics tell only one part of the story, in which a world-weary survivor shepherds a teen girl across America in search of sanctuary and perhaps a solution to the plague.

The emotive punch of their evolving father-daughter relationship comes from the narrative beats outlined in the assured performance of the two leads. Expressive motion-capture and convincing voice-acting convey the horror, comedy and despair of their situation – sneaking past bandits one minute, frenziedly fighting off mutants the next, then trading sparky chit-chat for light relief.

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The gameplay too remains untouched, delicately balanced between gunplay, exploration and stealth. The same glitches crop up – non-player characters behaving strangely or getting stuck on scenery – but it’s not enough to break the overall immersion.

Sony has been accused of bulking out its scant PS4 release schedule with remakes such as this (also rumoured as incoming: Uncharted and Beyond Two Souls). But unless you’ve played TLOU exhaustively on PS3, this definitive version at a low-ish price is a superb stop-gap in lean times for PS4 owners.

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