The Last of Us Part I review: Is the TLOU remake worth the price?
Just in time for the TV show, the original TLOU is back with a bang.
The Last of Us Part I is launching onto PS5 and PC soon, allowing fans new and old to experience the emotional story of Joel and Ellie in the highest fidelity possible. But is this remake worth playing?
Long story short, yes, this game is worthy of your time. The Last of Us Part I brings that original TLOU game (which first launched on PS3 way back in 2013) right up to modern visual standards, enhancing the graphics in all areas - from the character models to the level of detail in the environments, everything feels significantly richer than it did back in the day.
If you’re the proud owner of a PlayStation 5 or a high-spec PC, we’d thoroughly recommend giving The Last of Us Part I the attention it deserves. Get the game up and running on a 4K TV or a decent gaming monitor, and we really think that you won’t regret it, even though it is priced as a full game.
Certainly, for newcomers to the fandom that might be pulled in by the upcoming Last of Us TV show, The Last of Us Part I feels like an ideal place to start. This opening entry in the series has never looked better, and this new version feels much closer to parity with the brilliant 2020 sequel The Last of Us Part II.
With those newcomers in mind, it’s worth taking a minute to stress just how good the first Last of Us game is. Even without the visual upgrade, this was regarded as one of the most cinematic and emotionally charged stories that the gaming industry has ever produced.
Leveraging the gripping story/action gameplay combo that Naughty Dog mastered in the Uncharted franchise and blending in an array of horror movie inspirations, The Last of Us takes players on a journey through the post-apocalyptic USA over roughly a year’s worth of time.
You mainly play as Joel (voiced in a gruff but sometimes tender style by Troy Baker), an ordinary man that has survived for 20 years since the zombie outbreak that tore his family apart and basically ruined his life.
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Joel finds a new lease of life when he meets Ellie (voiced with humour and heart by Ashley Johnson), a girl that needs help travelling across the ruined United States and trying to avoid an outlaw group called the Fireflies. It’s a simple setup, but it leads to an emotional rollercoaster that ranks among the greatest gaming experiences of all time.
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That being said, returning fans might need to look closely to see what has actually changed here. Although the graphics look much better than they did in 2013, the structure of each gameplay section remains totally loyal to the original design.
This means that some playable segments feel a bit dated. For example, the tutorial area feels quite artificial, with random crates lying around to provide Joel with cover as you learn the ropes. It feels like a video game designed by an external force, rather than a living breathing world. After playing TLOU2, going back to this opening segment is a little jarring.
It’s worth stressing that rather than adding new story content, extra side missions, large open-world areas or anything else that you could dream up, Naughty Dog has stuck to its guns here. This version of The Last of Us is the same game that you remember - the story follows the same twists and turns, the levels have the same layouts, and the collectables are in the same places - but it looks a lot better than it did before.
Some characters look noticeably more real, for example, and the vistas you’ll visit as Joel and Ellie trek across the country are nothing short of stunning. The creative vision for the game may not have changed, but the visuals have never looked greater. And the acoustic guitar-laden soundtrack still sounds truly beautiful.
Some fans will also notice that The Last of Us Part I makes use of the PS5’s technical upgrades, with shortened loading times and responsive triggers on the DualSense controller. You’ll also notice that background characters now all have names (a trick borrowed from TLOU2), so you’ll feel a little bit more guilty when you have to take them out.
All in all, this is a very faithful remake. You could argue that it feels more like a remaster, even though Naughty Dog did rebuild everything from the ground up. At the end of the day, though, this is still a wonderful game. The story still hits just as hard, and now you can enjoy it with modern-day graphics to boot. It’ll be a perfect companion to the TV show.
The Last of Us Part I launches Friday 2nd September for PS5. A PC version is expected to follow.
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