I miss the release Our last better than any other video game – which means I miss it at all.
In 2013, I was 19 and still practicing the unfortunate behavior of pre-ordering video games before I knew if they were any good. Unfortunately, it went off while I was out of town, but my dad went and picked it up from our local GameStop for me. Like an absolute dork, I remember spending weeks looking at pictures of the box he sent me, practically counting every nanosecond until I could play it myself.
And when I did, that was all I could hope for. I must admit to being a less savvy media viewer at the time and truly believed its story was unlike anything else. I don’t think that’s true anymore – it’s borrowed from Cormac McCarthy’s Road, There is no country for the elderly, etc – but still has a special place in my heart for The Last of Us. When its sequel came out in 2020, I found an incredibly impactful story addiction cycle (sort of). When Sony announced Part I, unlike many of my colleagues and friends, I was so excited and jumped into this review when it became available. I love The Last of Us. I did it wonderfully, I did it when it was no longer interesting, and I suppose I will continue in some form forever, regardless of the major consensus that month. I liked it so much that the little details of the game’s release were etched into my brain: happy memories of simpler times. For better or for worse, it was a defining text for me, playing a big part in why I do what I do for a living today.
I am certainly not alone. The Last of Us is so highly regarded that in just nine short years, Sony has packaged and repackaged it three separate times – first released in 2013 on PS3, 2014 remake on PS4and now The Last of Us Part I. Four times, if you count how many next part Check out the story of the first game ad nauseum. Sitting somewhere between the second remake and the remake, Part I is supposed to look and feel the way you remember the original game, but for now unencumbered by technological limitations.
The thing is, I remember The Last of Us better.
For the uninitiated, The Last of Us imagines a completely unbelievable world where people wear masks to protect themselves and others from a deadly and highly contagious disease. . In 2013, a cordyceps virus brought down civilization as we know it, leaving the world run by military nations, scavengers and infected gangs (which are zombies). ghost in everything but the name). We follow Joel, caught between three people, who must carry a teenage girl, Ellie, across the country as a favor. Ellie is immune to the virus and potentially the key to saving humanity. Along the way, they are able to form an unbreakable bond over the murder and trauma they will endure together.
Part I is undeniably gorgeous, especially compared to the original, packing the visual fidelity you’d expect from a multi-million dollar video game in 2022. There’s something new. seeing the environments that have etched into my memory over the past nine years are more wonderful than ever. Especially during the day, seeing the lush, bright green of nature recreating cities, neighborhoods, and buildings there looks amazing.
The same goes for character models and cutscenes. As Naughty Dog has touted in its marketing, the performances feel much more accurately reproduced in Part I; faces are more expressive, most of the PlayStation 3’s awkward stiffness is gone, and overall, most scenes feel more believable and natural.
But the huge increase in loyalty comes at a cost; it highlights all the other areas where The Last of Us hasn’t aged gracefully. And ironically, in a post-The Last of Us world, a lot of the writing that dropped its jaws in 2013 feels immature and nine years later.
This is especially bad in the early hours with Tess and Joel, the series seems confusingly like an HBO TV series canceled after a season. The violence can be hard to watch and that might be the point, but almost a decade in, that point feels as shallow as a shower. I understand that the world is dangerous; I don’t need to watch my protagonist break a man’s elbow before his friend shoots him in the face to understand that fact. I think violence can be a powerful storytelling tool, but often the violence is more of a shock than an effective storytelling vehicle. The point is, I’m not shocked by The Last of Us. I’m mostly bored.
In the nine years since it first launched, numerous other games have explored themes of violence, loss, and love in much more effective ways. I have no doubt The Last of Us has had a huge influence on many of those games, and I won’t try to dismiss its impact, but playing in 2022 it feels very lacking – even compared to its sequel. The fact that, as far as I can tell, none of the scripts have been rewritten only exacerbates the problem, as there is no attempt to modernize the story, highlighting every clumsy line or rhythm. The tone of the story is frozen.
In many cases, the story caught my eye; I feel less for its characters than I anticipated – especially Joel, who is ostensibly written as a man who is hard-working, calloused, and trained to be impossible by the world around him. show emotions. It’s good now; such a story could work, but this time, I see no need for him to be cruel to unworthy characters – such as Ellie, a literal child. It’s cold, and someone is startled. Unfortunately, The Last of Us crosses that line several times. Again, maybe that’s the point. But it doesn’t make it a good point.
However, grace saves To be Ellie. When she’s the focus, the pulse of the story happens often, and I see that Left Behind, originally released as a two-hour DLC in 2014 but packed here with the main game, much better than I remember. With Ellie and her budding love of friend Riley at the center, I found this short chapter touching – more than I’ve done the 10-hour or so walking tour as Joel. Actor Ashley Johnson’s performance ages amazingly and is the best part of the original game and this re-release.
Aside from the visuals, the gameplay seems to have had the biggest overhaul compared to the original. Whether fighting humans or getting infected, Joel’s actions carry considerable weight; as reviewers said in 2013, you really feel every melee hit, every bullet and every melee call. Naughty Dog also tweaked the enemy AI to make them more aggressive, and I liked how often I had to think fast when enemies surrounded and surrounded me. Luring to get infected with well-placed traps is also satisfying and sometimes humorous.
Those major fixes don’t stop The Last of Us from feeling clunky and awkward, though. Walking slowly around open floors of drawers and cabinets to find supplies is only enjoyable at certain points, and worse yet, how often I get stuck in the inventory menu – where the same button is shared. prompt with melee attack. I often need to get out of inventory quickly to melee enemies that will lunge at me. But since the square button is both a melee and an inventory weapon switch prompt, I would have a hard time waiting for my inventory to close while taking damage.
Combat is fun when it gets hectic, but for the same amount of time it just leads to simple cat-and-mouse hiding or boring cover ‘n’ pop shooting. When it worked, it worked, and I enjoyed the tense moments of running away from the enemy before turning the tide. When it’s inactive, it just highlights a lot of outdated gameplay – even with some gameplay improvements that are mostly hidden from players. During your moments as Ellie, her increased mobility alleviates some of these problems; sprinting around a level with a relatively small character is more fun. Sadly, that’s only a couple of hours in the game overall. You spend the rest of your time slowly walking from point A to point B, sitting through extremely slow animations, boring puzzles, and clicking “L3 to see” anything you don’t want to see. Naughty Dog has determined to be the most important thing on the screen. The hand-held and restrained game design gives it an antiquated, outdated, and claustrophobic feel under the encounter design which is inherently clumsy at times.
And that’s the unfortunate truth of The Last of Us: because Naughty Dog wants you to see this as a new game, like an actual PS5 game, it makes every area that it’s undeniably still a game. PS3 play becomes clearer. I think if I played the original, I’d gladly forgive its growing pains, chalk them up – letting my pink glasses blur my vision and distort my perspective. But since it’s designed to be comparable to everything else launching right now, it’s impossible not to see what’s intact. I’m not 19 anymore; I’m 28. I’ve grown up. The Last of Us is not. I’m not sure I still enjoy playing this version of The Last of Us. Rather, I think I love my memories of The Last of Us. I love my memories of where it was at that point in my life.
I think there’s room for a remake of The Last of Us, a remake that’s more than just visuals and parts of the game. But unfortunately, this is not the kind of game. Its enhancements give a deep surface feel at best and largely superfluous at worst. The game looks good but doesn’t always deliver superior visual performance. I’m not sure a third trip is necessary.
But in this clip, we might get a remake of this remake in nine years. Here’s hoping it works then.