The Last of Us Part 1 review

The Last Of Us is considered one of the best games of its generation, probably the best game on PlayStation 3, and The Last Of Us Remaster could be considered one of the best games on the PS4. Now, in 2022, we’ve got The Last Of Us Part 1, a remaster-slash-remake, which brings the game up to the graphical and technical standards of the PlayStation 5. Is it worth £70 to play The Last Of Us on a current generation console? Today we’re going to find out.

The Last Of Us is critically acclaimed, winning nearly every award under the sun, and was followed up in 2020 with the highly controversial Last Of Us Part 2. If you haven’t played The Last Of Us, then first of all you should stop what you are doing right now and play it… it’s also a post-apocalyptic, stealth, action-adventure game about trying to survive in a harsh world, filled with danger around every turn. Naughty Dog crafted an almost perfect single-player story which is one of the best games of all time.

The motivation for creating The Last Of Us Part 1 is an interesting case. The team had just finished The Last Of Us Part 2, so wanted to dive into a new project. The Last Of Us also has a TV show coming out in 2023, so perhaps Naughty Dog wanted to tie it all together and provide a seamless player experience given a whole swathe of new fans are about to enter The Last Of Us universe via the HBO TV show. They also have a multiplayer game in the works, which could be part of Sony’s rumoured string of live-service games coming out in the next few years, so it’s a busy time for all at Naughty Dog.

The Last Of Us Part 1 takes advantage of the PS5 being able to deliver highly detailed environments and character models in a fully rebuilt world full of new animations. The game also takes advantage of the new features of the PS5 like haptic feedback on the controller, allowing for a more immersive experience. Plus, there are some of the most extensive accessibility options I’ve seen in a video game. The Last Of Us 2 was praised for its approach to accessibility, and The Last Of Us Part 1 goes even further, opening up the game to even more fans all around the world.

The original multiplayer mode is missing from this updated PS5 version, but happily, it does include Left Behind, which is a short prequel. While there are some differences in the game, it largely stays true to the original, meaning if you have never played The Last Of Us, this is going to be the definitive way to experience the game.

Playing through the game again, this game reminded me that The Last Of Us really is a modern masterpiece of storytelling. The world is brutal, the characters are strong, the acting is fantastic, and it’s shocking and violent, even more so when brought up to modern standards on the PlayStation 5. It’s not for the feight of heart either, it’s sad, scary, and very dark at times. There’s a thread of hope throughout the story, as Ellie and Joel go on their journey together through a clicker-infested near future.

The Last Of Us Part 1 is billed as a ground-up rebuild for the PlayStation 5, this is a remake and not a remaster as we had before. There are two display modes with native 4k at 30 frames per second, then another at dynamic 4K which targets 60 frames per second. Naughty Dog says they have built the characters and environments from the ground up, and when it’s delivered in this clarity you can really tell, the characters, environments and action all pop out of the screen.

While the characters look better and more detailed, as seen by Sony’s side-by-side comparison videos and stills. The environments feel denser, the interactive environments are more plentiful, the lighting is stunning and the reflections and water effects are some of the best I have seen. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart was my top visual game of 2021, although The Last Of Us Part 1 could give that a run for its money, it looks that good. The rain effects are so realistic, with Joel and Ellie dripping wet through when they go through rain-soaked areas, with water running down their faces, clothes and weapons in a very realistic manner. It’s the perfect advert for the power of the PlayStation 5.

There are definitely fidelity upgrades, which help when you are crouching and crawling through a museum, trying to creep around clickers without being seen. The Last Of Us Part 1 does lean on the original performance capture, cutscene direction and voice work from the original PS3 version. There have been a few changes to characters, Tess being the most obvious, but the improvements to the tech allow for more emotion to be conveyed through the expressions of the characters. With that in mind, it’s not a 100% remake from the ground up, even though Naughty Dog is billing it as such. There certainly are a lot of noticeable improvements, but some audio assets and direction have been retained.

The accessibility options have been given a complete overhaul, with high contrast modes for players with vision challenges. There’s automatic navigation for blind and low-vision players, indicators on screen for deaf and hard of hearing players, and loads of more options too. The controller can be completely remapped, and the difficulty options can be changed very seamlessly. The difficulty also has a lot of subcategories, like ‘ally effectiveness’ and ‘enemy awareness’… it’s not just as simple as easy, medium and hard mode. I can’t speak with any authority on the effectiveness of the accessibility options, but they look good and more extensive than I’ve seen in other games. Hopefully, other developers will take note and make this kind of option standard across all games in the near future.

Regarding other improvements in The Last Of Us Part 1, the enemy AI has seen a major overhaul. While it doesn’t exactly match the level we see in The Last Of Us Part 2, it’s still a vast improvement over the first instalment. Enemies now walk in non-predictable patterns when they are trying to find you. More often than not whether it’s a clicker or a soldier hunting you, enemies are much more unpredictable when it comes to directions and methods of finding you, which makes it more of a challenge. Your AI-controlled friendlies also don’t tend to wander out in the open and give the game away so easily in this version, which is a welcome addition.

The DualSense haptic feedback has been expertly implemented here. It’s not the in-your-face rumbling of the controller that’s the most effective, it’s the subtle, gently feedback, which is almost constant throughout the whole playthrough. You can feel the kick back on the gun, the rain drops and the thundering hooves of horses as they run. While the haptic feedback features do tend to drain the batteries very quickly, overall it adds a net positive feature to the immersive experience of The Last Of Us Part 1, and is likely a great example for others looking to implement similar features in other games.

From start to finish The Last Of Us Part 1 is about 15-20 hours long when you take into account Left Behind. At the end, you can unlock game modifiers, new cosmetics and visual modes. The latter is similar to Instagram filters that you are most likely familiar with, plus you can dress up your main characters in different clothes if you really want to. The modifiers are fun to play around with, including infinite ammo, infinite crafting materials and slow-motion are probably the most noteable. It does add a little bit of fun to the game if you wanted to go back in after the main story.

Overall, this is the definitive way to experience The Last Of Us Part 1. I’m not 100% we needed this experience, especially at the £70 price point, given we have The Last Of Us Remaster available to play through PlayStation Plus. However, given the context of the TV show and The Last of Us Part 2, then it kind of makes sense. I’m not sure I’d recommend playing through it if you have played it before, but if you haven’t played The Last Of Us, then now is the time to do so, and this is the version to play.

Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony
Platforms: PlayStation 5
Release Date: 2nd September 2022