Game Review: Last of Us Remastered – PS4

Title Last of Us Remastered
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre:Action/adventure, stealth
Date completed:May 2021 (and 2014 for original)
Information on game

Summary review: A remaster of what some might call a masterpiece. Now with new game crippling bugs.
Graphics: Significantly better than PS3 and at least mediocre for a PS4 title.
Music: Most ambient music what there was. It did what it was designed to do: not noticeable but significant with enough to add to the atmosphere.
Controls: No issues with controls
Replayability: I played through this game at least twice on PS3 and now played it all the way through on PS4 so despite knowing all the story beats I still enjoyed playing it again. Hope that answers the question.
Total score: 90 / 100 – I did enjoy every moment of it. Did not appreciate the bugs not present in the PS3 version and I still question the ending. Narratively.

I won’t be dropping any spoilers in here. Just a minimum amount of information necessary to express my opinion of the game. Seriously. No spoilers.

First, a little introduction: I played through this game on the PS3 on normal difficulty, then played through it a second time. I even watched some world record play through videos. So you might say I do like this game (it is extremely rare for me to play a game beginning to end multiple times neverminded play through a remaster of a game I have already played). I wanted to play the remastered version on the PS4 in preparation for playing the sequel (it’s been a few years and I wanted it all fresh on my mind).

This is my first time playing the DLC that comes with the remastered edition: Left Behind. This only took me about 4 hours and I’m not sure I would play it again. But more on that later.

For a genre I would definitely call this a “stealth” game or more accurately a “narrative-focused stealth game”.

The first thing you’ll notice in the main game is that it is very light on the available resources. You’re going to want to make sure you collect every gear, ever bandage, every bottle and every bullet you happen across because these are not easy to come by, even on normal difficulty.

The stealth part is really what this game is which makes the few non-stealth parts stick out that much more. For instance there’s a sequence where the main character, Joel, ends up hanging up side down and having to shoot enemies. During this sequence Joel has infinite handgun bullets. Which kind of takes away from the significance of say sacrificing a shiv to get into a locked room with lots of resources. Why I am exploring every corner if the game is just going to give me infinite bullets when necessary?

The plot…

The basic plot is that of “old man” Joel escorting young girl Ellie from Boston to somewhere in the mid-west safely and the trials and troubles they end up with along the way. You could almost describe Joel as something of an “old man Logan” without the adamantium and claws that are more figurative. The game opens 20 years prior to the main plot and depicts what is essentially the start of the apocalypse and a very tragic death in Joel’s life.

The apocalypse itself involves a very infectious condition spreading rapidly and causing irrational and aggressive behavior. Technically the infected are not “zombies” insofar as these infected can be killed or incapacitated by strangulation or a shot to the chest versus the more classic re-animated corpse “two to the head” zombies. But if you want to think of them as zombies it’s fine. The infected come in two main categories: clickers and runners. Clickers have been infected longer and a large armored spore has engulfed their heads, making them blind but much tougher to kill (they make clicking sounds allowing them to “see” the way bats do). Their heads are mostly bullet proof and a stealth kill requires a shiv or other bladed weapon. Runners on the other hand are recently infected so they can see the player and will aggressively run towards the player. The flip of that being runners don’t have the armored heads and so can be much easily taken down with a shot to the head or in stealth by strangulation. There are other infected enemy types that act as bosses as well but most of the time it will be runners and clickers.

There are of course human enemies as well. They act much more intelligently and rationally and are harder to sneak up on but can be as easily killed as runners.

Over the course of the story the narrative will switch between playing as either Ellie or Joel and sometimes the party will grow to include two extra characters to help out Joel and Ellie while sometimes it’s just Ellie by herself.

Playing it through this time I noticed some foreshadowing and parallels with other narratives I’m familiar with I don’t think I caught the first time.

There are several time jumps: Fall, Winter and Spring. I only mention this because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of character growth during the unseen time jumps and because the extra Left Behind content takes place during that “Winter” time jump.

During both the main story and Left Behind there will be little hints of further things going on. For instance there are letters and tape recorders scattered about that are completely optional. Well most of them are just there for “texture”. In Left Behind for instance there is a series of notes and tapes describing the series of events between the crew of a military helicopter. Completely optional story just sitting there on dead bodies if you care enough to listen but not at all required or even related to the main story.

There is a crafting system that is quite useful in some instances as well as a fairly extensive array of both handguns and “long guns” which includes a flame thrower and bow/arrow. I didn’t really use the flame thrower until the end – I didn’t need to technically it just seemed fun. Just didn’t see much need I guess.

It is kind of clever with the crafting system. For instance the same ingredients are in both health kits and Molotov cocktails forcing you to choose. Later in the game there are different types of explosives that can be crafted as well: sugar-based smoke bombs and nail bombs (must choose a priority as they both use explosives). I never had much need for the smoke bombs but nail bombs can be placed on the ground for a proximity mine-like effect that AI helpful walks right into. Actually combining nail bombs and Molotovs turns out to be a good strategy in many instances. I imagine a smoke bomb/nail bomb combo would work pretty well too.

The guns of course can be upgraded for clip capacity, sway, armor piecing and in the case of the hunting rifle a scope (only a few examples). I think a lot of these things have much more relevance on the higher difficulty levels.

There’s also a “new game+” mode once the main story has been completed. I haven’t done this yet but nothing actually changes other than Joel starts with his existing weapon upgrades for instance (but not items themselves) so it’s much easier.

For actual playing I don’t have that much to complain about. The AI is almost always consistent in how it finds the player. And in stealth mode the enemies completely ignores the AI players assisting Joel, like Ellie. Which I’m glad for since the game would be unplayable any other way.

Left Behind

It only took me 4 or 5 hours to get through this extra content and I mostly enjoyed it. The main game had Ellie mentioning some of the circumstances leading her to end up on this trek across the country and how her best friend died and this just expands on it.

The narrative for Left Behind jumps back and forth between Ellie having to find food and medical supplies for Joel while at the same time avoiding bandits and infected alike during a bleak winter. For a while it will be Ellie talking to her best friend in an abandoned mall long before the main game starts then it will have a section of Ellie trying to get to a place that will probably have some supplies.

Left Behind is even more narrative focused in my view because the flash back scenes involve walking down and threw endless corridors and different ruins while the characters simply talk to one another. There’s a scene in a Halloween store for instance that is just one long conversation and acting silly – for me anyway it seemed like it took a really long time. I can’t see myself wanting to play that over again. I did enjoy the “present day” winter parts of the story because at least it provided some combat and context for some things that happen during the main story.

Now some negatives…

I still gave this game a 9 out of 10 but that doesn’t mean I don’t have complaints. Well the most obvious is the rather glaring bug that was not in the PS3 version: at the very end Joel is on his way to the next group of bad guy humans when he goes over to a window and cups his hands to see better. And in my game he just gets stuck there permanently. No amount of button pushing or entering/existing picture mode seemed to fix it. So I “reloaded encounter” and had to collect a bunch of stuff a second time (actually I found somethings I had missed so that was good) and then finally found this same spot. I wasn’t sure if Joel seeing the guys in the other hall was required so I stupidly go over and push R3 again and again Joel is permanently stuck looking through that window. The conclusion is: this remaster has been out a while and this obvious of a bug shouldn’t exist and also ignore that prompt. It’s at the hospital at the end. I think it’s the only R3 prompt. Hopefully that’s enough hint.

There are other bugs like AI enemies getting stuck or just standing in place but nothing else that required me to reload a game.

As for the narrative I also have some complaints. For instance the intro and 20 year time jump is kind of pointless. Don’t make me get attached to a character than jump into the future when he’s essentially a different character. Just cover that part of the story through cinematics or flashbacks or whatever. It just didn’t work narratively for me and I find it more annoying that anything else. The intro does introduce Joel’s wrist watch. Which I’m almost positive is a metaphor for Joel’s soul. That’s what I’m going with and it could be the only reason the player is forced to play through that intro. For the wrist watch.

Conclusion: if you enjoy narrative-heavy games and if you really like stealth games I can’t recommend this game highly enough. This remastered only improves upon the original and previously separately purchased add-on content just adds icing to the cake.


Metadata

Method of control used Regular PS4 gamepad
Controllable via both one analog stick or digital four-way (“HAT”) n/a
Hardware requirements: n/a
Supports 21:9 aspect ratio screens?n/a
Device(s) tried on PS4 (non-pro)
TVregular old 1080p, nothing special
Initial setup required No setup needed
Sound setup5.1 surround system/receiver
Total time to completion~19 hours
difficulty level“Normal” difficulty
Random assortment of meta data

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