Humankind’s extinction has never looked quite so lovely.
Out now for the PlayStation 4, The Last of Us Remastered is a visually enhanced re-release of last year’s stellar PlayStation 3 action-adventure game, The Last of Us. Set 20 years after the breakout of a virus that caused the collapse of civilization, the game follows a grizzled survivor named Joel and a 14-year-old girl named Ellie, who together must travel across the U.S. on a near-hopeless quest for a cure.
Although the game is a mix of fairly conventional shooting, stealth, puzzle-solving and horror – virus-infected humans transform into ravenous, zombie-like monstrosities – The Last of Us earned critical raves for its story, atmosphere and dialogue. It’s one of the best-written, best-acted games in recent memory.
The changes to The Last of Us Remastered are largely cosmetic, designed to take advantage of the PS4’s processing muscle. The game’s resolution has been boosted to true 1080p high definition, and the frame rate – which affects how smoothly action is animated on-screen – bumped up to a fluid 60 frames per second.
"The Last of Us: Remastered." (Supplied)
From the crumbling ruins of abandoned towns to Joel and Ellie’s wonderfully expressive faces, everything looks noticeably better. But since The Last of Us was a fantastic-looking game to begin with, the changes aren’t overly dramatic.
In addition to a few other technical tweaks, The Last of Us Remastered also includes Left Behind, the excellent Ellie-focused prequel/side-story. (If you’re playing The Last of Us for the first time – you lucky devil – play Left Behind between the main game’s Fall and Winter chapters, as that’s where it slots best into the chronology.)
I’m a huge fan of The Last of Us’ smart, stealthy online multiplayer modes, and the Remastered edition features much smoother animation and slightly improved visuals here as well. All of the online maps released for the PS3 edition are included, but there’s also a slew of paid downloadable content for clothing, weapons and abilities, which I find depressing and tacky. Fortunately, any content purchased on the PS3 version will carry over to the PS4.
Aside from giving PlayStation 4 owners a chance to experience one of the best games of last year, The Last of Us Remastered is a timely bit of marketing on Sony’s part. In Canada, a voucher for a free downloadable copy of the game is being bundled with new PS4s as of this week, which could convince some fence-sitters to cave in and pick up the new console.
And at the recent San Diego Comic-Con, The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann took the stage with Spider-Man director Sam Raimi to confirm that a movie adaptation of game is in the works. (Maisie Williams, best known as Game of Thrones’ Arya Stark, has been approached to play Ellie.)
While the flaws inherent in the original game still remain – a lack of any real innovation in the action, the odd immersion-breaking puzzle and a few other quibbles – there’s no question The Last of Us is an exceptional piece of interactive storytelling, oscillating between white-knuckle adrenaline and wrenching drama.
It’s tough to recommend for PS3 players who have already played the game, as the $55 price is a bit steep for some enhanced visuals and a bit of added content. But PlayStation 4 owners who haven’t yet experienced The Last of Us absolutely owe it to themselves to pick up this modern classic, and take a journey with Joel and Ellie across the heartbreakingly beautiful ruins of our world.