The Last of Us Part 1, a remake of the original 2013 title, was the big closing announcement for Summer Game Fest. The marketing billed the game as a “from the ground up remake for PS5.” With that came new character models, newly designed environments, and a new lighting engine among other things. While the game is definitely a marked improvement in visual fidelity, I am of the opinion that this game should not have been made. Before you tweet at me, please hear me out as I outline my train of thought on this one because I think I will make some fair points.
The Last of Us doesn’t need a visual face-lift
The original game’s graphics are not bad looking by modern standards. The game’s level design with its tight spaces and invisible hallways are the things that make the game feel last-gen, not the visuals. From this trailer, this game is looking like a shot-for-shot remake, and so far there hasn’t been any indication that the level design will be changed. Even performance isn’t bad. The PS4 Pro version of the game runs at 1800p at 60 frames per second. So if a modern console gamer with their PS5 were to play The Last of Us Remastered, it would default to emulating the PS4 Pro version of the game. Now if you think 1800p is not good enough because it’s not true 4k (2160p), well I got news for you, Digital Foundry’s initial analysis of the trailer is clocking the resolution at 1440p. Granted, there are likely going to be graphics settings that will likely lead to 4k at 30fps, but most gamers will happily trade-off resolution for performance. Also, the Uncharted Legacy of Thieves Collection also had a similar performance output with most gamers favoring running the game at 1440p / 60fps.
I don’t like the new character models.
This is by far the most subjective argument I can make in an already subjective article. I think the new character models are worse and I don’t pay money to downgrade. So I asked my nephew and my brother which character models they liked better and both were with me, The Last of Us Remastered beat out Part 1’s character models. I can understand why they changed the character models. They are changed to be more in line with how they appear in The Last of Us Part 2. Here’s the thing, both Ellie and Joel look much older in the remake, and it’s worse on Ellie because her character is supposed to be a child (a 14-year-old girl to be exact). The new character models have skin that looks more true to life with texture, pores, and wrinkles. In the original game, Joel and Ellie had much smoother faces. For me, Ellie’s new character model makes her look much older and she loses the innocent child look the first game got right.
I just so happened to have done a new play-through of this game a month ago. I wanted to show my brother (who is not into video games) what gaming has become and The Last of Us was the perfect vehicle to show off narrative and gameplay. I played the game and he sat next to me on the couch as I went through the campaign. He enjoyed our time with the game and is looking forward to the HBO series as a result. So I pulled him aside and first showed him only the trailer for the Last of Us Part 1 to which he replied that the game didn’t look any different from how he remembered the game. Then I showed him another video of a side-by-side comparison of the PS4 Pro version of the game compared to the PS5 remake to which he said he liked the PS4 pro version better. Without me guiding him, he told me that he didn’t like the new character models, the new lighting, and how some shots were out of focus for no reason. Overall he liked the PS4 Pro version. Then I reached out to a friend of mine who knows nothing about resolution, performance, lighting, and really anything technical, he is my best reference to what I would consider a casual gamer. He said, “You’re going to think I’m crazy but there are some shots where the difference isn’t really that different.” He would go on to say that there was a small bump between releases and he wouldn’t mind playing either version of the game but if he had to choose one then he would pick the PS5 version. Unfortunately, not a point in my favor but his quote is telling about how little difference he perceives between the two versions. Lastly, my nephew was on the couch next to me watching Summer Game Fest. When the official announcement of the remake happened, his first reaction was to ask why the game is getting remade. All I could say was money, which leads to my final point.
This seems money grubby and isn’t a good value proposition.
So I am genuinely not sure why a PS5 owner who has PS Plus would buy this game because The Last of Us Remastered is already free. To those not in the know, PS Plus owners on PS5 have access to a selection of games from the PS4 generation that are on most people’s must-play lists, and it’s been that way since the launch of the PS5. It is called the PS Plus Collections and it includes games such as God of War (2018), Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, Persona 5, and the aforementioned Last of Us Remastered. At the current time of writing this hasn’t gone away even with the addition of the new PS Plus Premium tiers, so why would people who are savvy want to spend $70 on a game they can already play without spending extra money? Honestly, this reads as a Sony corporate decision so they can charge $70 for a game that’s been out for 9 years, because I don’t think Naughty Dog, with all their talent, would waste time, energy, and resources making this game. If this wasn’t a Sony decision and it was Naughty Dog’s idea, then I have lost a little bit of faith in the games industry as a whole because of how creatively bankrupt this appears. Just to add salt to the wound, Naughty Dog still hasn’t shipped The Last of Us multiplayer game that’s long been in development. The worst part is, they are not including the multiplayer mode that the original and remastered releases came with because let’s not compete with ourselves right?
I really don’t want to come across as someone hating for the sake of hating, or I’m hating just because I’m going to be labeled a Sony hater. On the contrary, I am a big PlayStation fan and I buy and play a majority of Sony first-party games. I rant because I love this game so much and seeing this trailer annoyed me because I was being asked by Sony to buy what I perceive as an inferior product. Knowing my personality, I would have been very susceptible to triple dipping (because I already own it on PS3 and PS4). Not this time though. I am likely not buying this game and I as the delegate of the PlayStation fanbase am handing Sony this L. The silver lining here is that this game is coming to PC, which means one: the game will be made available to a brand new audience, and two: most importantly, the fan modding community may take a crack at altering the character models to be more visually in line with the original releases.
You can find me on Twitter @chacalaca88 and my podcast is Ready Press Play where you can hear my thoughts on all things gaming. Also, you can find me on LV1 Gaming’s YouTube channel every Tuesday on Cogs in a Machine where we do deep dives on specific topics, so subscribe there as well.