“The Last of Us Remastered” review

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Since the PS4 and Xbox One have decided that they’re going to be the systems of HD re-releases, I thought it appropriate that we look at one of the most critically-acclaimed games of last year now newly released. “The Last of Us Remastered” contains the main game as well as all available downloadable content, with newly-upgraded graphics.

For those who are unfamiliar with the game, as I was since I didn’t play it when it first came out, the story centers on Joel and Ellie, two survivors of a “zombie” outbreak. Thrown together by unpredictable circumstances, the two must make their way in the hostile world while also trying to stick together.

The thing about “The Last of Us” is that it does several things that other games are also doing, or did prior to it’s release. The game contains a real-time crafting system, weapon upgrades, stealth combat and maneuvering, as well as puzzle-solving platforming gameplay. Think “Uncharted” having a baby with “Tomb Raider” mixed with the ridiculously unforgiving ammo and supply hunting of “Fallout” or “ZombiU.”

I’m going to focus really hard on the gameplay because this game is extremely preferential when it comes to people who enjoy the story, just like “Bioshock: Infinite.”

“The Last of Us” plays like one long escort mission, much like “Bioshock: Infinite,” except Ellie isn’t useful like Elizabeth was. Sure, Ellie does her share of getting the baddies off of you when you’re surrounded, but all in all she doesn’t help you find anything or bring you more ammo. After having a companion like Elizabeth, we’re almost spoiled. Compared to a companion that gave us health, Adam, ammo, money and opened portals that allowed you to heal yourself or hide behind cover, a little girl that does nothing but comment on how brutal you are to other people seems less than impressive.

Fortunately for Ellie, she’s much better written than Elizabeth, so she makes up for her lack of usefulness with story and character development as well as pretty enjoyable segments of gameplay where you control her rather than Joel.

Unfortunately for both Ellie and Joel, the real problem in this game is the zombie-like clickers and their tank counterparts. While I appreciate monsters that force the player to think of a more creative approach and a more quiet approach, there is a definite problem with their fundamental structure as monsters.

Example? Sure! In “ZombiU,” you were faced with similar issues that were in “The Last of Us” when concerning limited ammunition and a large amount of enemies who could sense the player. However, in “ZombiU,” you were given the cricket bat. The bat would never break and always kill zombies, albeit slower than other weapons. In “The Last of Us,” all melee weapons have health and can be destroyed, even the shanks, leaving you with just your fists. The problem with this is that you can’t kill clickers with just your fists if you haven’t softened them up with bullets or anything else first. Going full on fisticuffs with one of those mushroom heads will lead to instant death.

The pair often share moments of introspective silence.

The pair often share moments of introspective silence.

I’m serious. Instant death.

So, if the game is going to give me monsters that can kill me instantly unless I have certain types of weapons to soften them up or a shank to kill them through stealth, either make the weapons not degradable or give me more ammo to find. I understand the survival-horror aspect of this game is to make the player feel desperate and not feel like they can wade into a horde of infected unscathed, but there are plenty of other games that do the same thing and don’t leave the player completely helpless.

Of course, there are many things in the game that work well to give the player a more realistic and harried sense of play. The sway of the gun when standing as opposed to crouched, or even more sway when wounded. The listening system to help the player “see” enemies who are sneaking and using items to distract them like bricks or bottles. A crafting and upgrading system are always welcome, but I do question the crafting system in real time, though it just forces the player to pick the right time and place.

The only other point I will make about the game, as far as story, is that the main plot does end with a very sequel-bait sort of note. I understand that this may be the next franchise to replace “Uncharted” for developer Naughty Dog, but there may be better ways to end a game than the way they did it. This, I will admit, is more of a personal preference than an actual fact.

While there may be some contention as to whether this is a “Game of the Year” game, I will say that while at first I was disappointed with “The Last of Us Remastered,” I came to get a sense of the game and be comfortable with the feel of it and the type of puzzles that it presented. When I got in the swing of it, the game flowed and continued on it’s pace. Really, the only thing that slowed it down was constantly dying from clicker attacks. It really killed the pacing at times.

As for being on the PlayStation 4, there is no denying the game looks gorgeous on the new system. I will say that it may be a resolution thing or just a shaders situation, but whatever it is, it looks real pretty on Sony’s new box. The game delivers, though whether you as a player are happy with the delivery is really up to you.

“The Last of Us Remastered” is a solid 8 out of 10 if I had to grade it. It is not the best game that I have played, but I have certainly played worse. The story did not grab me emotionally like “The Walking Dead” seasons one and two have, but that may be because there was more time in those games to develop character in a point-and-click game, rather than an adventure-survival-horror game. The mechanics are definitely ones that mesh and were put together with some thought, though the game’s balancing system when it comes to infected does seem a tad one-sided. Maybe that’s the game’s way of telling me to charge into rooms less or be smarter with my play, or maybe it really is just unbalanced. I get the feeling it’s a bit of both.

Are you looking for a game for your PS4 that is high quality? If the answer is yes, then “The Last of Us Remastered” is a solid choice any day. Especially if you don’t own it already on PlayStation 3 and haven’t yet played it. Do you already have this game for the PS3? If your answer is yes, then this may be something to own at a later date since you have already had the pleasure, but let’s say replaying it is not a reason to drop $400 on a new console. If you’re a really hardcore fan, I don’t see why you can’t own this, but for me, personally, I wouldn’t buy this game for a second time to replay it just for the sake of looking at a prettier version.

The worst part of the game is getting mobbed by these suckers, only to have Ellie chuck a brick at one of them.

The worst part of the game is getting mobbed by these suckers, only to have Ellie chuck a brick at one of them.