I will admit that The Last of Us Part I wasn't on my radar. I was actually looking forward to the HBO adaptation that's coming out early next year. But as remakes go, The Last of Us Part I is excellent. There are enough improvements to make this remake the definitive version. However, I'll also be the first to say, don't buy the game at its full price (S$97.90). If you have a PS5 and subscribe to PS Plus, you already have the PS4 remastered version in the PS Plus Collection. You may even have played the PS3 original. Yes, the PS5 version looks, and plays better, but The Last of Us is all about the story and characters. And they don't change in this faithful remake.
- Includes The Last of Us: Left Behind prequel
- Improved AI, DualSense controller features, 3D Audio
- New Speedrun mode unlocked after completing the game
- No multiplayer
Besides the obvious graphical upgrades in things like the facial animation, I love the new, more realistic-looking colour palette used in the remake. It fits the dark, gritty tone of the story. The gameplay itself is decent, but not as good as the story or presentation. I'm not a big fan of having to stealth my way through most of the game. Or hunting a ton of crafting materials. Developer Naughty Dog says the AI has been improved — enemies will raise the alarm appropriately, and flank you while attacking. Your companions also seem fairly adept at pathfinding and taking cover. But more importantly, the developers know how to set up the narrative to deal the maximum emotional impact. The improved visuals — I recommend Performance mode, which ran consistently above 60fps at a dynamic 4K resolution — help with the immersion, making certain scenes feel even more gut-wrenching.
Seeing as it's a PS5 game, Naughty Dog has naturally added a whole bunch of features involving PS5's DualSense controller's haptics and adaptive triggers (when you pull the bow string). Together with 3D Audio, these features make the world feel more alive. But some of the haptics do seem a bit undercooked and unnecessary — do I really need the vibrations while upgrading my weapon? On the plus side, Naughty Dog has added a ton of accessibility options — in line with the ones in The Last of Us Part II (2020, PS4) sequel. For instance, you can have the cinematics narrated for you like an audio book. Those with poor vision can turn on High Contrast Display, which turns enemies a solid red colour. In particular, the accessibility options for motion sickness helped me greatly when I felt nauseous playing the game.
There are also tons of extras that can be unlocked when you complete the game. Notably, there's a new Speedrun mode that displays the current playing time at the top right of the screen. This timer will automatically pause during cutscenes, and you can compare your timing with your friends. Hardcore players can choose a Permadeath option that will, depending on the setting, require restarting a chapter, an act, or even the game itself in the event of a player death.
Naughty Dog has taken the opportunity of this remake to tweak The Last of Us to feel more like its sequel. It's definitely the best version yet. While the game is being released now for the PS5, it's the upcoming PC port (no release date yet) that's probably more eagerly awaited. The PC version would increase the player base, and build up the anticipation for the HBO TV series. Not to mention Sony is expanding its PC profile, with the new Inzone headphones and the Spider-Man PC port. However, if you have already played the game, the S$97.90 price for the PS5 remake is steep. I would wait for a sale. The game launches Sep 2 — get it from the Sony PlayStation Store or Shopee.
Note: Review copy provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment
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