The Last of Us Part I Review: A Much-Loved Classic Improved

The Last of Us Part I comes to the PlayStation 5 at an interesting time for the console.

With only a handful of notable exclusives at the beginning of the year and only God of War Ragnarok to look forward to in the coming months, not to mention an impending live-action series on HBO and the divisive nature with which Part II was received, and there is a lot for Part I to live up to.

We have not even gone into the fact that the 2013 original title is regarded by many as some of the best story telling that you can find on a PlayStation console, helping Naughty Dog cement its legacy as a truly great AAA game studio thanks to a little help from Nathan Drake too.

It would be remiss of us not to also point out that this game is expensive (R1 369), as is the case with most PS5 exclusives. At a time when gaming in general is denting the pocket more than normal, is this really a must-play remaster?

The short answer is yes.

Properly rebuilt

It serves as a great palette cleanser for those less than enamoured with Part II, while also giving us high fidelity visuals from top to bottom.

The story telling and voice acting performances are untouched, as well they should be, so the saga of Joel (Troy Baker) and Ellie (Ashley Johnson) trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic and viscerally brutal world was always going to remain the strongest elements at work here.

The key difference this time around compared to the subsequent GoTY editions and remasters, is that this has been thrust into the current-gen console age.

While we too had our issues with Part II, we could not fault Naughty Dog for the sumptuous visuals on offer in the game. The same applies here, with textures, lighting and the general look and feel ratcheted up a few notches. This is especially seen in the detail of character faces, with subtle switches, eye movements and otherwise fleeting moments all given their rime to shine.

For those who are retreading this path, the enhancements to the visual aspects of gameplay and cutscenes will indeed make this feel like a new game altogether.

Muck like the Uncharted Legacy remakes we played at the beginning of the year, this updated and upgraded version of The Last of Us Part I makes us remember all the things we loved about the original game when it first came out. It may sound like we are repeating ourselves here, but Naughty Dog does some of the best story telling around.

The improvements to the visuals, now add a bit more punch and weight to performances. We aren’t ones to pause a game and digest what’s just happened, but even after nine years, The Last of Us Part I will still have you running a wide gamut of emotions.

Devil in the details

Naughty Dog has not only overhauled the visual elements at work here, with the gameplay and enemy AI also getting some attention.

All in all the enhancements are welcome, with traversal, moving of objects general movement all feeling a bit more polished and realistic.

There are one or two issues though, as running at speed and negotiating the environment is a little bit odd at times, especially for Joel, who can lumber around and does not deliver the smoothest of turns. We also found his movement while crouching to be a little laboured, especially when other characters are moving a little more swiftly.

We are nitpicking here, as quite frankly, there is little fault to find in how Naughty Dog has addressed mechanics and general gameplay in The Last of Us Part I.

As for the AI work done here, developers say the same system employed for Part II was used in this remake. We were quite surprised to hear this as the NPCs in Part II were quite dumb when we played the game, but that may have to do with the hiding in grass mechanic which was a big part of that title.

In Part I, things feel markedly different, as NPCs have better awareness. It is by no means genre-leading, as fairly deliberate walking behind enemies to kill them is fairly easy and draws little attention, but generally speaking if you end up in eyesight, they can spot you.

We also need to highlight the 3D audio element that was integrated into the game, as it does indeed heighten tension while hearing a Clicker in a darkened room, trying not to get outflanked by a Stalker or evading a squad of FEDRA agents hunting you down.

The haptic feedback plays a nice part here too, with the adaptive triggers also helping to make each weapon feel a bit different, which is becoming a hallmark of playing any kind of shooting game on the PS5.

Final verdict

It is increasingly hard to make a case for a nearly decade old game warranting the price of a current-gen one. At least it would be had developers for that game not have put the work into rebuilding it as Naughty Dog has done for The Last of Us Part I.

For fans of the original, or perhaps those rare newcomers too, the game is a triumph in story telling, voice acting and connecting with players.

That said, you knew all of that going into this remake already. Where you do see substantial improvements are in the overall visual presentation and refinement of the game mechanics, all of which build add to an already iconic piece of IP.

The only real question we have is why this remake is only rolling out to PS5 and PC owners, as those with a PS4 should not be deprived of experiencing it.


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