The Last of Us: Remastered makes end of the world beautiful (review)

7 Oct 2014

The two lead characters from The Last of Us: Joel and Ellie.

Considered one of the best games of the last few years, The Last of Us has been given a whole new makeover with a remastered version for the PlayStation 4 (PS4), but is it worth buying?

As a reviewer, it’s a rather different experience to review a game which, technically, came out last year, especially one so highly acclaimed as Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us.

This game, along with a number of other up and coming titles for the PS4, is continuing attempts to fill the void in games for the next-gen console as game companies are still tinkering with and working to release games based off the console’s vastly improved capabilities for graphics.

In this case, The Last of Us: Remastered is now asking the question as to whether it is worth shelling out as much as €60 for a game that many of those who have been religiously buying Playstation consoles would have already played?

Just to give a reminder of the story, you play as both Joel and Ellie who have ventured outside of the Boston quarantine zone 20 years after a fungus that turns people into zombies has almost brought mankind to extinction.

The game follows the two characters as they navigate a beautifully overgrown and post-apocalyptic landscape of both city and the countryside.

The ruined city looks amazing in the daytime.

Notable changes

First of all, the most obvious changes from the original PS3 game is that it takes advantage of the PS4’s more significant graphical power thanks to its better memory and graphics drives.

When the original game launched in the summer of 2013, the PS3 was a little under seven years old, which in computing power terms, was far from ideal for the game’s developers who have admitted that they had to go to great lengths to get ‘every last drop of power’ out of the ageing console.

What I’ve found interesting and frankly hilarious at times, is the amount of fanboys of both Xbox and Playstation who have morphed into internet-taught video quality experts in a bid to back their own perceptions of which console is better.

The differences in lighting and more minute details on the characters (ie eyelashes, more life-like hair) contribute to the subtle beauty of the game.

The idea of ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ is long gone and is now replaced with questions like ‘Does it run at 30 frames per second (fps) or 60fps?’ ‘Is it native 1080p or is it up-scaled?’ Both are usually followed up with some abusive message about the other console in what is far from a constructive debate.

Although to satisfy the more technically-minded, yes, the game does play at native 1080p and does play at 60fps, although interestingly, this can be switched back to 30fps which was the game’s max on the PS3. 

From my first glance of the game, the most obvious difference is the considerable boost in the animations of the characters.

Gone are the slightly flat and blurry faces of the amazing set of characters that are in the game and are now replaced with real high-quality animations that add much more life-like emotions on show and, given this game, there’s a hell of a lot more emotion on-show.

Also, backdrops that made critics of the original game break out the thesaurus to find other ways of describing ‘detailed’ have been enhanced again and makes admiring the broken world around you totally worth it.

They’ve also tinkered with what appears on screen with some gameplay changes that might not appear noticeable but make the experience that bit better such as less glitchy walls or vaulting over objects.

The level of detail in nearly every room will let you piece together clues from the wider picture of the world in The Last of Us: Remastered.

Not just pretty visuals

While not on the same level of change as some other remastered titles on the market with Metro 2033 (video): Redux being a particular example, Naughty Dog have also introduced more social elements to the PS4 version to take advantage of the console controller’s share button.

Mid-game, the player can enter the pause menu and turn on photo mode which from what I can see will essentially let you ‘Instagram’ photos taken in-game adding a variety of filters.

As someone not particularly fond of selfies or instagramming myself, this part was lost on me but when done right, it can make some pretty cool-looking photos.

Speaking of the new controller, another small but really cool feature is that the sound effects of the flashlight turning on and off as well as voice recordings are played through the small speaker in it which definitely adds a greater element of immersion.

And like a box-set of a TV show that hasn’t been made in 20 years, the lead voice-actors of Troy Baker (Joel), Ashley Johnson (Ellie) and creative director Neil Druckman add their commentary as you play along the game.

Or, as I did, you can go back and watch all the cinematics of the game, a film-worthy one and half hours, and watch it just like a DVD commentary.

All DLC included

The fact that all DLC released to date has been included is both a no-brainer and a welcome addition to the remastered game.

This includes both the only planned single player DLC, Left Behind, set as a prequel to the events of The Last of Us, as well as additional content for the game’s unique and incredibly difficult online multiplayer aspect.

Naughty Dog has also confirmed that it plans to release at least two future DLC packs ie new weapons, maps, objectives, for multiplayer only, sometime later this year so there’s still more to come from the game as far as online is concerned which is a big plus.

The rain effects on windows was one of the most impressive moments I came across during the game.


Like I said in the beginning, reviewing this game and questioning whether to buy what is essentially an old car with a new engine is rather difficult, but it boils down to what type of person you are and whether you’ve owned the game before.

If you are a PS4 owner who had never played The Last of Us on PS3, the answer is a lot easier: yes, yes and yes.

It’s a fantastic game and arguably one of the best to come out in the last five years, if not more, because of its gripping story and brilliant visuals, even with gameplay that, it could be argued, doesn’t put it in the same lofty highs as some other games on the market.

If you did own the game on PS3 and you had all the DLC, you’re not going to find much different here bar better visuals and photo/video sharing which means buying this game might seem like nothing more than a luxury for those with extra cash lying around or are a ‘completist’.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic