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ℹ️ - The Last of Us Part I


With the Summer Game Fest expected to deliver some of the main new game announcements for 2022, it was a little surprising that one of the biggest talking points ended up being a game that is now over 9 years old. Originally launched on PS3 in 2013, it was Naughty Dog's The Last of Us that managed to dominate the headlines after Geoff Keighley was joined on-stage by studio co-president Neil Druckmann for the show's final livestream segment.


Of course this wasn't just a nostalgic chat about an old release, there were plenty of teases about the upcoming TV adaptation of Joel and Ellie's story that is due to arrive later this year, and the announcement of a standalone multiplayer game set in the same universe. Although claims were that the latter will deliver something with "massive scope and [an] immense world", it was ultimately the confirmation of a full remake of the original, officially called The Last of Us Part I, that stole the show.


You may be thinking, "but Sony already released an HD Remaster of TLoU", and you're absolutely right. It is even available at no extra cost to PS Plus subscribers as part of the PS Plus Collection on PS5, so is another remake even necessary, or is it just a bit of a cynical money making exercise?

Well, if the 10 million copies of The Last of Us Part II sold, and the pretty huge response to the announcement that Part I has gone gold are anything to go by, it will have no problems turning a profit, but Naught Dog insists that this is much more and are billing the game as the definitive version of The Last of Us that is freed from hardware limitations.

I am often sceptical about games seeing too many releases – take GTA V for example – especially without significant improvements to justify it, and I felt just the same when first hearing the rumours of The Last of Us coming to PS5. Having seen what Naughty Dog have done so far though, they might just be onto something.

The original remains one of, if not THE best and most powerful examples of video game storytelling to this day and I still refer to it to "prove" that this medium can be more involving than any book or movie. The trouble is that it has always fallen a bit short on certain gameplay mechanics, even the HD Remaster feels quite dated to pick up, so the idea of a ground-up remake to modern standards does make some sense.


The team at Naughty Dog have likely learnt a lot over the last decade, and we can imagine that The Last of Us Part I will benefit from everything that was developed for Part II. Expect that to include the sophisticated AI, improved controls, exploration and combat, as well as a full suite of accessibility options that all combine to give more people the opportunity to experience the seminal narrative as it was always intended.

Perhaps even more compelling though, at least for virtual photographers, are the upgraded visuals and high fidelity character models. Naughty Dog's engine, and particularly its handling of lighting, is one of the most technically accomplished and the news that the remake will more accurately portray the original actor's motion-captured performances means even more raw emotion in more detail than ever before.


A quick look at the comparison shots is enough to catch the photographic eye, and I can only hope that Naughty Dog have also seen fit to give their photo mode an update to take advantage. My realistic expectation is that The Last of Us Part I will arrive the with the same photo mode as its earlier sequel and, while those tools were a definite step forward for the studio, they were still help back by a few major limitations, primarily the highly restrictive orbital camera. Let's hope they take this chance to finally let go!


So does all this mean that a full remake of The Last of Us was necessary after all? No, it is still tough to say that it was "needed" when not even a console generation has passed, although it is naturally no coincidence that the timing will tie closely with that of the HBO TV series. Sony's £70 price point also makes it a hard sell for anyone who already owns the previous two versions, but somehow this game manages to stand apart.

If nothing else, it is hard to deny those visual upgrades and the photographic opportunity to (re)capture some of the most profound and poignant gaming moments with even more fidelity and emotive animations. Is that enough to justify the price, for some maybe, but waiting for a sale or even the slim chance that The Last of Us Part I will make it into the PS Plus Extra line-up might be the sensible option.


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