Friday, 13 May 2016

Review: The Last of Us Remastered (PS4)

As usual, this review will be minimal when it comes to any spoilers.

The Last of Us is one of the best games ever made. I did play the original for the PS3, but not the DLC (which is included with the Remastered edition). As well as the Left Behind DLC, there is now a photo mode, which has a nice range of filters, frames, focus and camera options. I took a fair number, mostly in the Noir filter, and it’s a nice little extra [some I took, including spoilers, are here].

The story is fantastic, probably the best I’ve seen in a videogame. From the start (perhaps the most harrowing prologue there’s ever been) to the very end, there’s dramatic tension, visceral violence, anxiety, all leavened by periods of peace and rare, but engaging, moments of humour. Ellie and Joel are very well-written and performed protagonists, and the secondary characters are also memorable and engaging.

Gameplay’s good, with a basic but well-balanced approach to crafting (if you find some cloth and alcohol, you can either make a health kit or a Molotov cocktail) which always leaves you wanting more components. Combat is brutally visceral, perfectly dovetailing with the bleak world in which the story unfolds. The approach needed to take down humans is very different to fighting a gang of infected (particularly the creepy clickers).

Graphically, the game has been upgraded and it does stand up to other PS4 games. It isn’t as nice as something like The Witcher 3, but it still looks good. The grey in Joel’s hair is more noticeable, and there are odd rough spots (but you get that with every game).

Sound is at it was, which is to say excellent. The music, sound effects (especially the clickers) and, most of all, the voice acting are all superb. If you play with a normal audio setting (as opposed to headphones, which is what I tend to use) the controller-speaker is used when flicking your torch on or off (and maybe for playing dictaphone messages).

I think the DLC is really well done. It’s maybe 2-3 hours, and alternates between unseen events in the main game and stuff that happened to Ellie before she met Joel. Unlike some other DLC, it feels like an addition to a complete game rather than a necessary part that was cut out and then flogged to people as DLC. There’s also a good balance between story and tense gameplay, so if you never had it before, it’s well worth playing.

Downsides? Practically none. There are one or two bits that feel a bit videogame-by-numbers (in stark contrast to the grim realism the game typically achieves). It’s also an adult game, in a dark, violent sort of way. So if emotional trauma and violence (or humans with fungus dissolving their skulls) aren’t your cup of tea, best sit this one out.

It’s not the longest game, perhaps 15-20 hours, but that time will be filled with good stuff. There’s no padding. Like a small venison burger, it’s delicious and has almost no fat whatsoever.

I’d give it 9.5/10. Unless you’re put off by the starkness of the world, I’d strongly advocate getting it (and it’s less than £20).


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