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June 2024

The Last of Us Part I

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Naughty Dog
Release Date: Sept. 2, 2022


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PS5 Review - 'The Last of Us Part I'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 31, 2022 @ 8:00 a.m. PDT

The Last of Us Part I is a genre-defining experience that blends survival and action elements to tell a character-driven story about a population decimated by a modern plague.

Buy The Last of Us Part I

The Last of Us was one of the very best games on the PlayStation 3. It was so good that Sony ported it to the PlayStation 4 with The Last of Us Remastered, which was a darn good port of the game. However, that does make it surprising that we're getting our third version of The Last of Us in as many console generations. The Last of Us Part I is a remaster of the first game that's been "built from the ground up" to bring it more in line with the sequel, both visually and gameplay-wise. It's difficult to say if the improvements justify its hefty price tag, though.

To start off, The Last of Us Part I is still the same game as before. It has the same plot, the same characters, and the same structure. While it has been rebuilt from the ground up, it isn't a Resident Evil 2-style remake. This also means that everything that was excellent in the original, from the engaging characters to the heartbreaking plot, remains engaging and interesting. If you haven't played The Last of Us in either of its previous forms, then I'd recommend not looking anything up because it's impossible to avoid spoilers at this point, and The Last of Us is a game that's best played with a blank slate, if you can.

The good news is that The Last of Us Part I is an excellent game. Everything I said in my original review of the game still holds true now, and if anything, the game has gotten better with age. I don't want to repeat my previous compliments, but know that The Last of Us is an extremely good game and well worth playing if you haven't.

The changes in Part I are largely subtle. Like the Remastered version, the title comes with the Left Behind prequel DLC, but on the surface, it's very much the same game that you may have played on the PS3. Combat in Part I has perhaps been updated the most from the original release. If you've played the original title, almost all of the same basic strategies and tactics remain valid. The enemy AI has received a bit of an upgrade, and enemies more proactively flank you and close in on you, forcing you to move out of cover more than you did in the original. It isn't exactly game-changing, but it adds some tension to combat encounters by forcing you to watch your sides more than you used to.

The most significant addition to the game is the fantastic amount of accessibility options, which let you tailor the game to play however you like. There are a ton of features for those with accessibility needs, including high-contrast modes, the ability to change HUDs, subtitles that can cover everything in the game, and more. There is a stunning amount of care given to players who are hard of hearing, have visual or motor disabilities, or need a little something to make the game playable.

There are also a number of other available adjustments. For example, if you have trouble with aiming, you can turn on an auto-aim feature, which locks on to the closest foe and can be tailored to be laser-precise or a loose help. If you don't want auto-aim, you can turn on slow motion while aiming to make it easier to line up shots. If you don't enjoy the game's puzzles or can't finish them because some rely on audio cues, you can enable the option to skip them at a push of a button. (This is also nice if you're just playing for the story.) If you don't like stealth, you can enable the option to become invisible while crouching, either for a limited period of time or for however long you'd like. You can manually adjust a lot of specific options, such as infinite breath, enemies flanking less, enemies not breaking free of grabs, and more.

These features may not matter to longtime fans, but I think they represent the best addition to the game. Allowing players to customize the individual elements of the game goes a long way toward making it accessible to anyone without removing the gameplay entirely or forcing a player onto Easy mode. Sure, the game is easier if you turn on slow motion than if you didn't have it, but it's only one element of the game that is simpler than the entire thing. I know infinite breath may not sound like much, but I know at least one person who couldn't finish the game because of the stress of the underwater segments, and this setting was made just for them.

The Last of Us was always a good-looking game, but Part I really steps it up. Almost everything has been improved. Character animations are notably better, especially facial animations, and the environments are crisper and more alive than even in the Remastered version. It brings the game much closer to The Last of Us Part II and shows off the difference a few console generations can make even with the same game. It also runs buttery smooth, which is a huge bonus. It is difficult to express how much better it looks without seeing the two side by side. Part I gives everything more depth and realism and lends weight to the already believable world. There are a few places where things felt like they could have been cleaned up more, but they were few and far between. It is far and away the better-looking version of the game.

Part I is an improvement over the Remastered version in pretty much every way, but in many ways, it isn't that much of an improvement. It looks better, it plays better, it's clearly a more refined game, but at the same time, it's still very much the same game. That speaks well of the competence of the original game, but it also makes the price tag the biggest barrier to entry. If you own a PS5, you can buy Remastered for less than one-third of the price of Part I, and the overall experience will still be darn good. Even for die-hard fans who probably own the game twice over, the $70 price tag is going to be difficult to justify.

That leads to The Last of Us Part I being both the best version of the game and also extremely difficult to recommend unless money is not a concern. The Last of Us has aged well enough that you don't lose a ton playing the Remastered version, unlike the similar remake Demon's Souls, which took a cult PS3 game that many people had never played and gave it a modern updated release. If you're willing to wait for a price drop or sale, Part I becomes far more appealing because it is a wonderful improvement to an already impressive game. Aside from cost, there's no reason to go back to the older versions, and The Last of Us remains one of the best games in the Sony library.

Score: 9.0/10

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