The Last of Us Part I was officially announced for both PS5 and PC during Summer Games Fest back in June. As a fan of the original 2013 action-adventure game, I found myself questioning why Naughty Dog felt the need to remake this classic title.
One could argue that it just makes perfect business sense given the critical success of The Last of Us Part II and the hype surrounding next year’s highly anticipated HBO adapted series. However, the fair question to ask is has enough truly changed to warrant experiencing Joel and Ellie’s life-altering journey all over again?
After completing this game for a third time this past weekend, I can confirm that The Last of Us Part I is without a doubt the definitive version of the original experience but is only an essential purchase for those who haven’t yet explored what this world has to offer.
If you played The Last of Us or The Last of Us Remastered on PS3 and PS4 respectively, then you absolutely don’t need to buy this game unless love the series and never played through the Left Behind expansion. Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect from this edition and why it might not be for everyone.
The Brutally, Beautiful Journey
First and foremost, it must be said that The Last of Us Part I looks absolutely breathtaking on PS5. The use of Naughty Dog’s latest engine technology with raytracing and advanced visual fidelity makes this single-handedly the best-looking version of the game ever made. Reimagined environments and silky smooth animations breathe even more life into character performances and the world in all its disturbing beauty. Here is a quick list of the various mode options that you can choose from:
- Fidelity Mode: Native 4K resolution and targets 30fps.
- Performance Mode: Upscaled 4K Dynamic internal resolution and targets 60fps.
- Fidelity Mode + 120Hz Display: Native 4K resolution that targets 40fps and supports 120Hz displays.
- Unlocked Frame Rate Performance Mode: 4K Dynamic internal resolution that targets up to 120fps and supports 120Hz displays with Variable Refresh Rate enabled.
The addition of 3D audio and Dualsense wireless controller support also further enhances every aspect of each moment from beginning to end. Veterans and newbies to the series will gain a deeper sense of how intense the action is and be forced to adjust accordingly to achieve the most success. In addition to this, the game has received faster load times, and new accessibility features along with an improved Photo mode. Players looking for a challenge will also appreciate both the newly added Permadeath and Speedrun modes.
Rounding out the list of features, there are alternative character appearances, gallery, and model collectibles that you can unlock just by playing through the game. It’s also worth noting that getting the platinum trophy is easier this time around and you’ll notice that a lot of trophies pop throughout the campaign. While I did enjoy my playthrough, this was still a very familiar experience. In my mind, the original Last of Us already looked amazing. The remake is obviously on another level graphically and performance-wise but everything else is virtually the same.
A Missed Opportunity
On June 14th, 2023, Naughty Dog will be celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the original game. The decision to release this remake prior to that is a little puzzling to me because the extra development time now could have been put towards adding more content to this package.
While we do get the outstanding Left Behind expansion, adding Factions multiplayer or even a proper PS5 update (Director’s cut) for The Last of Us Part II definitely would have added even more value to the $69.99 and $99.99 price tags. I will add that I’m fully aware Naughty Dog is making a Factions multiplayer standalone game and at least hopefully we will finally get to see that in action next year.
Another missed opportunity with The Last of Us Part I is that it adds no further valuable context to the events in The Last of Us Part II. It is exactly the same adventure that you experienced before with no additional cutscenes or Abby appearances which in turn makes both games feel slightly disconnected from each other.
I certainly respect the decision not to change something that was already deemed a masterpiece by many, but I do think throwing subtle sprinkles of context here and there could have gone a long way towards connecting the narratives. If Naughty Dog makes The Last of Us Part III, I’m sure they will connect the dots but the fact that these things are missing from a game “rebuilt” for PS5 is a bit disappointing.
If for any reason you never played The Last of Us and you currently own a PS5, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this game as soon as possible. The Last of Us Part I is the best way to experience this Naughty Dog classic. For those who have already played the original and remaster, you have a very good idea of what to expect and can decide for yourself if it’s worth your hard-earned money.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of The Last of Us Part I for the PlayStation 5 provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.