September 14, 2019 at 1:49 AM #978
The Last of Us Remastered
Rating: 5.0 – Flawless
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
The Last of Us: Remastered is a 2014 Playstation 4 survival horror game. I was deeply impressed and blown away by this title and can proudly say it is easily one of the greatest games I have ever played and certainly one of the best games released in the 2010s. I had never played the original version of The Last of Us but had heard good things about it. Aside from a few games here and there, modern gaming is mostly disappointing to me and this is perhaps part of the reason why I was so deeply impressed with this game; from the moment I began playing I was immediately sucked into the world of Joel and Ellie and was fully invested into the story. This is one of the only games I have ever given a 10/10 to and the main reason why is because of how real and enveloping the world of The Last of Us is.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
At its core, The Last of Us is a survival horror game with heavy stealth elements reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid. You assume the role of Joel, a man traveling across the United States after an apocalyptic disaster that turns humans into monsters. You are accompanied by Ellie, a teenage girl who mostly is controlled by the AI but occasionally assumes the role of the player-controlled character. Action takes place from a third-person point of view and overall the camera and controls are very fluent and intuitive. The core of the gameplay is the excellent blend of stealth and horror; each area that Joel and Ellie explore is polluted by a maze of hazards and enemies that one must use their wits to circumvent. I was impressed by the depth of the gameplay in that fact that the areas that you explore can usually be overcome by several different strategies such as going all out with firepower, being super sneaky or doing a combination of both. The enemy AI changes constantly and will attempt to counter with tactics of their own and I was impressed by the intelligence of my opponents and how this challenges the player. The various difficulty levels increase the challenge and aggressiveness of the mutants pretty considerably making the game appealing to all types of gamers.
The depth of the gameplay is also increased thanks to the customization that is afforded to the player. Joel is able to have certain attributes upgraded thanks to “supplements” and can also upgrade his weapons. This adds a strategic element that forces the player to consider their play style and how they would like to proceed through the game. I feel that this also allows the player to engage closely with Joel and care deeply about what happens to him since you have a personal touch in his growth. Another aspect of the gameplay that adds some depth is the puzzles that are included in certain stages. These puzzles are usually pretty easy and are not nearly as engrossing as they could have been.
Not all is perfect with the gameplay of The Last of Us. The peskiest gripe I have is that Joel’s walking speed is horrendously slow. It feels like he is creeping along at a snail’s pace; don’t get me wrong, this is helpful during the stealthier moments of the game but more often than not it is an unneeded nuisance. The swimming controls are pretty rough and hard to control, one of the most common video game plagues. Very few games actually have intuitive swimming controls, and The Last of Us is not one of them. Fortunately, swimming sections are far and few between. Finally, having Ellie as a sidekick for the most part is beneficial to the gameplay but there are times in which she will stand in doorways and not move, causing the player to scream at their TV for her to get out of the way.
Despite these infrequent flaws, the gameplay is very solid and engrossing. It strikes the right balance between accessibility and depth that will appeal to casual and hardcore gamers alike.
The interface in The Last of Us is very intuitive and easy to use. The menus can be accessed by hitting the middle button on their controller and one can always access the save and options menu very easily. These features are very simple to use and I was appreciative of how easy and user-friendly the crafting system is. Some games, especially RPGs, tend to over-complicate their menus to give the illusion of depth but this game is pretty concise and makes the process go very smoothly. The upgrades and workbenches are easy to dive right into and use and this allows the player to get back to the adventure very fast.
The only complaint I have about the interface comes when you try to switch out weapons and heal. I feel they gave this process have too many steps and it creates an absolute hassle when you are trying to change weapons or heal in the middle of a battle. Aside from this, the interface is very smooth and extremely user-friendly.
From the moment you start The Last of Us, you are immediately sucked into the story and the world that is portrayed. As I stated earlier, the story follows the exploits of Joel, a man who is tasked with escorting Ellie across the United States in a post-apocalyptic world. The story is grabs you immediately and never lets go and is complete with superb writing, wonderful voice acting and organic chemistry between the two protagonists. The dialogue never seems contrived and every conversation has a purpose as their relationship evolves throughout the game. While the surface of the story is about mutants and survival, I believe this is a case-study in trust and relationships. Moral ambiguity pervades the dialogue and our definitions of “right” and “wrong” are challenged at every turn. This is especially true with the climactic and thought-provoking ending that will definitely leave a lot of room for discussion and analysis. At times, it feels like you are reading a really engaging novel or watching a film than playing a video game. The character development is absolutely superb and every character has unique motivations and a purpose behind their actions.
One plot device that adds a lot to the story is the use of artifacts and tape recordings that can be collected throughout the adventure. While these are fun collectibles that you can earn achievements/trophies for they also add quite a bit to the story and helps the player invest more into the characters and the plot. I honestly can say this is by far one of the greatest video game plots in history and I cannot find a single flaw with it.
Graphics – 9.5/10
The striking visuals of The Last of Us Remastered make full use of the power of the PlayStation 4 and the design has detailed and realistic areas that bring the world to life. I was deeply impressed with the textures and the amount of attention that went into designing them. Every single house, hallway, building, etc. is unique and has a staggering amount of detail given to it. The designers truly poured their hearts and souls into these graphics and it really does show. My only complaint about the environments is that some areas are way too dark, even with the TV brightness turned up. I found this to be more annoying than engrossing but luckily this is not too big of a problem.
The character design is absolutely flawless. Faces and movements are designed and animated as if they were real humans and I was impressed by the wide variety of reactions and animations that were available to different situations and actions. There is absolutely no flaw with the character and monster designs and every single character and object is designed in a very unique way.
The Last of Us is virtuosic when it comes to making a first impression, and the audio is no different. The beautiful sound effects and title screen theme are soothing and offer respite from the frantic and suspenseful music that is to follow. This game’s soundtrack follows the classic survival horror sound while also mixing in daringly beautiful themes such as the ending theme of the game. The voice acting is without peer and brings the wonderful script to life. I especially enjoyed the banter between Joel and Ellie and this is a major credit to the excellent sound recording that was produced.
Sound effects in this game play a much larger role than what you normally see in video games. The sound effects strike the perfect balance between loud and silent and are mixed very well. Sound also plays a huge role in the stealth aspect of the gameplay because it can be the difference between life and death when it comes to enemies detecting Joel. I always love it when sound plays a direct role in the gameplay and this game does it masterfully.
Play Time/Replay Value – 10/10
I completed my play through of The Last of Us Remastered in 17 hours, 14 minutes and 47 seconds. This was an outstanding length of time because there was a ton of fun gameplay mixed with excellent storytelling and the pacing always feels perfect. The replay value in this game is off the charts; between the different difficulties, collectables, New Game +, multiplayer and Left Behind DLC this game will send your play time soaring. Ultimately, it is the engaging plot that does this game the biggest favor because players will want to experience the story again and again and I can say that after the credits finished I immediately started a New Game + file to experience the adventure again.
+Combination of stealth and survival horror
+Strategic elements to gameplay
+Customization adds depth
+Enemy AI is very smart and challenging
+Superb character development
+Thought-provoking story will challenge player
+Incredible detail to unique environments
+Characters and monsters are designed flawlessly
+Balance between suspenseful and soothing music
+Masterful voice acting
+Sound effects play a role in gameplay
+Unbelievable amount of replay value
-Slow walking speed
-Bad swimming controls
-Switching weapons and healing is a hassle
-Some areas are too dim
The Last of Us Remastered is a must-play for any gamer. It is a modern masterpiece that takes storytelling and visuals to a whole new level while relying on a fairly simple gameplay formula that anyone can access. It will challenge how you think of morals and is the ultimate example of video games as art. I highly recommend this game and it is only the 5th game I have ever awarded a 10/10 to out of the 163 games I have reviewed on this site. Get this game now and surrender to its perfection.
Final Score: 9.5/10 rounded to 10/10
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