ALTHOUGH barely a year has passed since the release of The Last of Us on Playstation 3, it is now universally regarded as one of the finest games of its generation, a title which combined riveting action mechanics with one of the most considered and nuanced narratives the medium has ever seen.
The Last of Us Remastered
Platform: Playstation 4
Score: 9.3 / 10
While some have grumbled over the merits of remaking a game so new, any opportunity to widen the audience for Naughty Dog’s magnum opus is a cause for celebration.
In Joel and Ellie, the studio has created two memorable characters that are rounded, naturalistic and above all, unpredictable. Throughout a story involving mankind struggling to survive in a world ravaged by a fungal plague that turns the living into zombies, the writing and acting is of the highest standard, with key developments underplayed rather than rammed in your face. Moreover, it marries this superb plot with peerless game design - every step of the way, both aspects remind you it is other people that are to be feared more than the walking dead.
The Last of Us has been billed in some quarters as a survival horror, but the truth is it does not go in for cheap frights. Instead, it provides a masterful example of tension in gaming, leaving the player in perpetual state of unease, forever leaving them with a few less bullets and health packs than they would like. The one on one combat encounters are thrilling, certainly, but the game excels in the quieter moments, with Joel stalking shadow-bathed alleys and corridors in the hope of scavenging items of use.
While the overhaul to the game looks impressive in static screenshots, it can only be fully appreciated in full motion. An improved 60fps frame rate, so often an upgrade that is barely discernible to the average player, brings a clear and marked difference to proceedings. The sprawling decay of the urban environments feels more expansive and dynamic while the need for precision shooting when deciding to take out an enemy in the distance is made infinitely less frustrating.
The game’s transfer to Playstation 4 also comes with an array of generous features, not least the DLC expansion packs and Left Behind, a curiosity for sure but an intriguing addition to the campaign that gives an insight into Ellie’s life before Joel and showcases Naughty Dog’s ability to shift tone seamlessly. On top that, the game offers a solid, strategy-focused multiplayer offering and a director’s commentary - an entertaining overview that is a must watch upon completion of the main story.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
1) With bullets scarce in The Last of Us, it is crucial to make the most of your environment. Clickers, which hunt their prey via sound, can be distracted by throwing one of the many bricks or bottles found lying around the devastated cityscape.
2) Always be prepared to run. Sometimes it is possible to evade enemies by tip toeing through a room, but if all hell breaks loose - and occasionally, it surely will - have an exit strategy and stick to it.
3) Do not let the wide open spaces invite you to run around freely. Sticking to cover and shadows is a vital survival tool in The Last of Us, and if you stray for too long you will be punished.