The Last of Us Part II Remastered has finally dropped for the PlayStation 5 and it brings with it a new experience to a wonderfully thought provoking world that has continued to nail the storytelling experience for gamers.
It’s a story that comes with a massive disclaimer, and that’s while I’m going to try to keep this review spoiler free, it’s now an almost 4 year old game and even if you didn’t play it there was no escaping the major plot development upon its release. It shocked the world, it frustrated a percentage of a fan base and divided millions. But at its core, it was near perfect storytelling that is so brutal in its approach that it now lives in a special place of folklore with the likes of Game of Thrones & The Walking Dead. Side note, I cried like a little baby and I’m not alone.
The new and improved remastered edition is out now and takes what was already a masterpiece and tidies it up. There’s a new Fidelity Mode that offers 4K resolutions at 30 frames-per-seconds or you can choose to play the game in 1440p at 60 frames-per-second. Both are stunning to look at but I found I preferred the extra frames in performance mode. Overall movement is much smoother than previous versions of the game.
The lighting has also had an overhaul as the original copped some criticism for being too dark to the point you couldn’t see what was happening. So the lighting, although brighter, is developed in a way that it won’t feel out of place and remove you from the experience. Even the plants and growth that has taken over the old structures feels more living adding to the atmosphere. This is said of both the gameplay as well as the cinematic moments which always blended perfectly in my opinion.
Originally released for the PlayStation 4 the game never really took full advantage of the PS5’s impressive DualSense controller. The haptic feedback now delivers an even more immersive gameplay experience while in combat or just exploring your surroundings. They’ve even gone as far as to add an interactive experience where you play Joel’s guitar using your controller’s touchpad to strum in what would make an excellent music based spin-off game “The Last of Us: Guitar Hero”. Mind you, I can’t play guitar in real life and it seems I’m not very good on console either, but that doesn’t make it any less fun as a novelty.
Having played through before I really appreciated “The Lost Levels” This is a series of three playable stages that were originally cut from the game mostly for pacing issues as the accompanying audio from the lead designers. Much like the director’s commentary on a DVD you gain true insight stepping behind the curtain to how the thing was made. Even though these levels lack completion it still feels exclusive and is a must experience for anyone curious or even looking to get into the game creation space.
To be honest the team at Naughty Dog could have stopped there and the remaster would have been a huge success, but it’s the other extra features that have been added that elevate this new release to be a worthy addition even if you’ve played the game through before.
First there’s a “Rogue-like” element to the game called “No Return” where you need to survive as long as you can against wave after wave of enemies intent on your demise. The procedurally generated stages are based on locations in the game and offer multiple paths to success. These style games are not for the faint hearted, they get your adrenaline pumping and if you can make it all the way to the end, be ready for a frustrating boss battle.
Tactically you’ll need to adjust based on which character you are using or which enemies are attacking. It’s not just hordes of infected that are coming after you, there’s humans as well. So attack each situation in a new way and it pays to be stealthy over full frontal assault.
For me the mode kind of went away from what I love about this story driven series, that said, the tension is definitely there and I can see the appeal. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we saw this grow into something bigger for players in the future even though The Last of Us Online was cancelled. It would be great to see “No Return” in a multiplayer capacity.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered is a welcome addition to the series from what I’d consider to be one of the leading developers right now. Every title they release is brilliantly executed and for them to be able to go back and add in some things they would have liked to have done but the technology just wasn’t there at the time is a blessing that most studios just don’t get to experience. As a player I have a love/hate relationship with remakes and remasters. While I’d prefer to be playing something new every time, the same rules don’t apply to a game like this as it’s so epic and cinematically told that it’s more like revisiting your favourite movie that just happens to be fully interactive and vastly improved.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered is an easy 10/10. A definite download for anyone who enjoyed its first release, but also for new fans that have joined in by playing the first game after the TV series was released. Be warned though, if you don’t know what’s coming, you are in for a hell of an emotional rollercoaster.