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Review: The Last of Us: Remastered

The Last of Us: Remastered
Naughty Dog

Over 200 Game of the Year Awards

ESRB: M 17+
Platform: PS4

Play Time: 25:55:19
(Play Time is based on the combined lengths of my livestreams for this game.)

What I Knew Before Playing The Last of Us

I had purchased The Last of Us back in July 2013 when it had been released for the Playstation 3. I had no sooner loaded up the game, however, when my roommate snagged it to play.

I did my best to avoid getting spoiled about what was happening in the game, then when my PS3 died on me I did my best to continue to avoid spoilers.

In October 2019, The Last of Us: Remastered was the free game for the month for PS Plus members. Having been gifted a one year membership to PS Plus by a good friend of mine, I was in the perfect position to at long last get to play a game I had wanted to play for years.

Unfortunately, my internet is two aluminum cans connected by a bit of yarn the cat chewed up. Add to that my allowing my roommate to take priority on downloading games and… it took forever for me to finally get The Last of Us downloaded to play it.

It was worth the wait!

0220 02 02 2020

I finally got The Last of Us downloaded on February 2, 2020 and began playing it at 2:00 PM Alaska time. (Actually it was about 20 minutes after when I started to play, so technically I began playing The Last of Us at 02:20 PM on 02/02/2020.)

First Impression

The visuals of the game were outstanding. I had not expected to play as Sara, Joel’s daughter who appears to be around 13 or 14 at the time the game begins. The control seemed a bit sluggish to me, until I realized that was intentional – I was trying to move around a half asleep kid stumbling through her house in search of her dad. As I wandered the house I could see that it was lacking in the touches that a woman would have given it, it was all either young teen girl or grown man style of decor. Easy to notice that Joel was a single dad doing his best to give his daughter a good life.

All hell breaks loose not long after Sara finds her dad and there is a chance to watch from the back seat of a fast moving SUV as the world outside goes to hell in a burning handbasket.

Heartbreaking

SPOILER!!!!! Skip to the next heading if you do not want to be spoiled about the start of the game.

I had not been prepared for the game to just flat rip my heart out at the beginning. In writing there is a rule that the first character that the reader encounters is the one they will get attatched to, because this character becomes their introduction to the world and the story.

In The Last of Us this is used to what I consider to be outtanding levels of storytelling. By starting us out with the tired little girl in search of her father, they are giving us a connection to Sara that could not be achieved had we started out playing as Joel. Had we began the game as Joel then we would have seen his daughter as being “just another non player character” and had nowhere near the level of empathy attained by having walked in her shoes for the start of the story.

Instead, they start us out as Sara and let us see the world through her eyes as her father and uncle race to escape the city with her in the back seat moving around, watching people being left behind, seeing the homes of families she knew in flames… her world is being ripped apart and we, the player, are right there with her.

Then… the car is crashed and Sara’s leg is injured and we skip from her to her frantic father, carring his injured daughter (who we now have a strong emotional connection to) through the streets in a desperate search for a way out. A path to safety.

For a moment we think we have found it. We have found a soldier, who Joel pleads with for help, only to have things take a horrible turn when the soldier opens fire on Joel and Sara. We feel it deep down as we watch Joel hold his little girl, who had been shot and lays dying in his arms. It is a moment that shapes Joel’s character and our perpective for the rest of the game. The world is a harsh place and there is only pain and heartache in allowing anyone to get close.

When tasked with protecting another young girl 20 years later, Joel wants no part of it and I can fully sympathyze with him, I undertand how he dose not want to have another young girl, a girl that is the same age his daughter had been, die in his arms. It is masterful storytelling that left me feeling Joel’s loss as much as possible.

Add to all of that the discovery along the way of children that have died and the placement of the name Sara in a few locations along the journey (most heartbreakingly as the name of a child next to a handprint on the wall of a safe house that Joel passes through), and the pulls on the heartstrings are akin to a well played harp.

End of Spoiler

The Journey

The story of The Last of Us is a journey that starts out as a mision to escort a girl, 14-year-old Ellie, to the edge of the city. It becomes a journey across country and as the story progresses we watch Joel and Ellie go through a lot of changes.

Despite my constant commentary about how I planned to sell “The Kid” to the first group of Gypsies I found, it was rather heartwarming to see things like how Ellie would tuck herelf in between Joel and whatever cover he was crouched behind when enemies were near.

Later on she was more independent, even leaning against walls at some points as she pouted like the 14-year-old girl she was, but those only added to the feeling of “this is a great, well thought out, character.”

There were also plenty of awww moments with Joel and Ellie, such as her questioning a movie poster she had seen a lot during their journey and Joel telling her it was a teen movie, not a horror movie – then declining to talk about what had caused him to watch a teen movie.

Combat

I love sniping, stealth tactics, and close quarters combat (CQC) in games, and The Last of Us did not dissapoint me on any of it.

I played the game on Hard difficulty and found the combat to be very well balanced. I had some points where I died a lot, but I learned and adjusted what I was doing and found ways to beat my enemies. In the end, for every fight, I was left feeling highly satisfied and like I had achieved a victory.

The ability to craft shivs and take on my enemies with stealth kills or use a shiv to get a last moment kill before an enemy could finish me off was something that I just loved. It hit my love of thieves and stealth combat perfectly.

When sniping there was just enough gun sway to make it a bit of a challenge, but not so much that I was frustrated by it.

Overall I liked the combat in The Last of Us and would play the game again just to enjoy the combat aspects.

My Complaints

It really was hard for me to find any faults with The Last of Us, but it did have one thing that I did not care for. I would sneak into a room, staying low and using stealth to try and surprise any enemies that might be lurking in the area. Then Ellie would move ahead of me and go to the area’s exit point to wait for Joel, effectively ruining the tension and supense for that room.

I would have much preferred for Ellie to have stayed behind Joel whenever he was crouched. Allowing me to be unsure if an area was secure until I had cleared it myself.

What I Would Like to Have Seen Included

There is not much that I can say I would have included in The Last of Us, but one thing I would like to have had was more of The Last of Us.

There are transitions between areas in the game where Joel and Ellie just kind of skip long portions of their travel time and arrive at the next story area. I know why it was not an option, but I would have liked the option to travel more slowly between story areas.

It would have been kind of nice to be able to choose “Exploration or Fast Travel”, with the exploration option having me needing to scavenge for a mode of transportation, find gas if needed, seek out safe places for Joel and Ellie to rest, and have more time to play the game and fight through random encounters with clickers and various other dangers.

There would have had to be a reduction of items that could be found during the exploration travel, so as not to offset the game’s balance. But other items such as fuel and collectibles specific to the exploration areas could be added to provide things other than weapon parts and other main story resources to be found during the journey.

My Overall Impression

My overall impression of The Last of Us is that it was a solid and enjoyable game that I look forward to playing many times in the years to come. It hit the heartstrings in all the right places and I am thrilled to have been able to share the journey with others via a livestream.

A Clip From My Live Gameplay at Twitch

This clip shows my intro sequence, then a bit of my gameplay leading up to a surprise raid by some fellow Twitch members looking to make what had been a rather bad day for me a little brighter with a mass showing of support and love. I have included a bit more of the gameplay after the raid excitement to give people a bit more idea on my play style, wrapping things up with my outro sequence (which was thrown off a bit by my still being overwhelmed by the support shown by the awesome raiders that had come to surprise me).

Looking Forward

Overall I loved every moment of playing The Last of Us and can not wait to get to play The Last of Us II when it comes out in May.

I am sure that Joel will probably play only the most minor of roles in the second game, and for that I am very sad. I love Joel and personally prefer to play a male protagonist, but I am sure that I will have a wonderful experience playing Ellie and hope that I will be left feeling content and pleased with how things turn out for Joel in The Last of Us Part II.

Take care and have fun in whatever game you play.

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