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Lifewire / Kelsey Simon
Great voice acting
Stealth focused gameplay
The Last of us Remastered is an extremely well-written game with a story strong enough to carry you through any flaws in the stealth-focused gameplay.
The Last of Us Remastered is a (mostly graphical )update to the original The Last of Us, with cleaner graphics and more detailed textures. While the cynical might suggest it's a thin excuse to sell the same game again, for anyone who missed it on the PS3 the ability to play it on a modern console is a gift. It's one of the best games from the end of the last console cycle due to its strong plot and compelling characters.
The Last of Us Remastered can be purchased digitally or on disk. In the Last of Us there’s no character selection or creation. You’ll be taken to a menu and select whether you want to play the original The Last of Us (start here), Left Behind (a side story that builds off the original), or Factions MP (a multiplayer mode in which survivors band together and compete for resources). Select the story and you’ll be asked to select a difficulty from five choices: Easy, Normal, Hard, Survivor, or Grounded.
The Last of Us starts with a cutscene introducing one of the protagonists, Joel, and his young daughter. You’ll get to see a short snippet of their relationship and the love they have for each other before ya short sequence where you play as the daughter. You’ll be able to explore her room and pick up various items, such as a birthday card she wrote for her father. This mechanic of investigating nearby items isn’t new, but The Last of Us makes these notes, papers, and other items relevant, even integral, to the story.
While the plot isn't staggeringly original, it's extremely well-executed and affecting.
After walking around the house a bit, noises from outside draw your attention and Joel guns down a zombie that breaks through the back door. Outside, the zombie apocalypse has started and everyone is panic mode. Even in these introductory scenes, the dialogue is written beautifully and well-acted. You can feel the characters' tension, emphasized by the sound and environment design. While the plot isn't staggeringly original, it's extremely well-executed and affecting.
After the introductory sequence, we skip forward 20 years, where a ragged Joel is living in a quarantine zone, working as a smuggler. You're soon introduced to the game’s other main character, Ellie. Joel is hired to smuggle Ellie out of the quarantine zone and get her to the Fireflies, rebels living on the fringe of what passes for civilization in the post-apocalypse. The Last of Us is a game about Ellie and Joel’s relationship, their friendship, and the fight to survive in a chaotic world.
A lot of the gameplay sequences will require you to stalk prey, throw bricks or bottles to distract them, and strangle them from behind or stab them in the skull with a knife. Most encounters are handled best without a gun, although it serves in desperate situations as a last resort.
Stealth is paramount due in part to the variety of zombies. The most basic type are the Runners, fairly standard fast zombies. The second are called Clickers, blind zombies that rely on sound. They’re fierce when tackled head-on, but if you utilize stealth and throw objects as distractions you can often get around then without engaging.
The real strength of the graphics is the way they're used in support of the plot.
Stalkers are just as strong as Clickers but can see, and Bloaters, the largest and most armored of the bunch, are deadly juggernauts. The zombies in The Last of Us aren’t really fresh takes, but they do build nicely with the game’s focus on stealth. Another aspect of the gameplay that emphasizes the use of stealth is Joel’s ability to “listen." With a click of a button, Joel can hear enemies through walls, and the game will show you a white outline around enemies within Joel’s hearing range. The use of this ability is key to catching them from behind so you can take them down silently.
There's also a light crafting mechanic. You’ll need to pick up things like gears, scissors, or bandages to craft medkits and shivs. These items will help you survive, and the hunt to find more materials invites players to investigate more of each area rather than just rushing through each environment. Also be on the lookout for papers on the ground, comic books, or recordings, collectibles that introduce new scenes or conversations in the game that you'd otherwise miss.
The graphics aren't spectacular by comparison to contemporary PS4 games, but they are a big step forward from the PlayStation 3 version. Characters in particular are more detailed—clothing looks dirtier, beards have more defined hairs, and skin has more freckles or blemishes.
The real strength of the graphics is the way they're used in support of the plot. The lighting is used appropriately to help enhance dramatic scenes, and details in the scenery help establish story details or contrast the mood. The sound is also well designed, with background noises fitting the mood, background music adding to the tension, and sound cues from zombies alerting you when you've been spotted.
The Last of Us has been out long enough that it’s regularly on sale at deep discounts. You can get it on Amazon as of this writing for $17, and on Ebay for even less. For a game that's so well designed and executed, and that delivers such a heart-wrenching, thoughtful narrative, $17 is an incredible bargain.
There's a pretty healthy selection of single-player zombie games available at the moment, and one of the best of the current crop is the completely overhauled Resident Evil 2. While the RE2 remake doesn't have a story as compelling as The Last of Us, the gameplay is superior, particularly if you're not enamored with the mandatory stealth in many of The Last of Us' sequences. If you're looking for a fun game to play Resident Evil 2 is the better choice, but if you're interested in a gripping narrative, go with The Last of Us.
A great stealth-based game with an amazing story.
The Last of Us Remastered is an amazingly written and designed game. The plot alone is enough to carry people through it, even given how oversaturated we are with zombie stories at the moment. The characters are well drawn, and you'll come to really care about what happens to Joel and Ellie. This is a game that will stand as a classic in years to come.
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