The Last of Us holds an extraordinary place in the players' hearts. It's a game about the suffering and hardships of its protagonists in a world ravaged by unimaginable horrors. Few games come close to matching the narrative strength and emotions that this game exudes.
2013's The Last of Us was a surprise for players familiar with Naughty Dog's games. Coming from the action-packed thrill-ride of the Uncharted series, the gloomy and depressing atmosphere of the game felt very refreshing.
Not only that, the gameplay too was tweaked to bring the game more in-line with traditional survival-horror experiences.
Suffice to say. Players did not expect this sudden shift in tone for a game coming from the same developers that gave them the Uncharted games to resonate so well with them.
Naughty Dog had a clear vision for the game, with a beautifully written narrative and robust gameplay system to complement that and execute their vision flawlessly.
Given the recent announcement of The Last of Us Remake dropping for the PlayStation 5 in September this year, PC version later down the line, one has to wonder whether the game needs a remake.
How much milking is too much?
The modern trend involves remaking old classics into modern-era games with incredible graphical fidelity and improvised gameplay features to suit the modern gaming audience. Games like Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Resident Evil 2 Remake are undeniably some of the best games that are full-blown remakes of their old counterparts.
With the immense success of such remakes, it is understandable that other developers and publishers, too, would like to revitalize their old franchises and games. But at what point does a game justify being remade? If a game is already fresh in the players' memory, does it make sense to launch a remake?
How the original aged
The Last of Us isn't an old game per se. It is PlayStation 4 remaster and is arguably one of the best-looking and fun-to-play games. When it originally came out on the PlayStation 3, the game was a visual powerhouse, extracting every horsepower of performance from aging hardware.
Naughty Dog knew what they were doing. Despite a modest target of 30fps on the PlayStation 3, the game looked and played quite well on the seventh-generation hardware. With the launch of the PlayStation 4, Naughty Dog was quick to remaster the original game and align it with the hardware's new potential.
The PlayStation 4 remaster felt like a rebirth for the original game. The remaster repackaged every bit of DLC and updates the game received over on the PS3. That gave it a significant visual overhaul with improved textures, draw distance and unlocked the framerate to allow players to experience a buttery smooth 60fps gameplay.
How does the original compare to The Last of Us Part 2?
Although The Last of Us visually holds up well, even today, the gameplay is a hit or miss. The Last of Us Part 2 was undoubtedly a divisive title, with the narrative being the most significant point of debate. But one thing it got right was its gameplay and quality of life improvements.
The series is a survival-horror experience at heart and emphasizes its stealth gameplay. The sequel made massive changes to the core gameplay systems of the original game, adding new avenues for players to sneak in and pick enemies one by one.
The enemy AI was overhauled with changes in their tracking and flanking abilities. The Last of Us Part 2 also had some new mechanics like hiding in grass and other vegetation. They also got a quick dodge mechanic to add options during close-quarters melee combat. All-in-all, a pretty substantial upgrade in the gameplay department over the previous game.
How does the remake compare to The Last of Us Part 2?
The remake is a full one-on-one recreation of the original game, but on the new and updated engine Naughty Dog used for the sequel. The remake will also have the single-player story DLC Left Behind fully rebuilt from the ground up for the PlayStation 5.
The game will boast similar graphical fidelity to The Last of Us Part 2, with outstanding graphics and a massively improved lighting engine. Although the original game's visuals still hold up very well, the sequel easily surpasses that with its gorgeously detailed and near-photorealistic graphics.
Most of the cutscenes in the sequel are rendered in real-time instead of pre-rendered cutscenes in the original and its remaster. Seeing the original game's at times lengthy cinematics rendered in real-time will be a sight to behold.
The game will also feature PlayStation 5 exclusive enhancements like lighting, fast loading times, and 3D audio using the console's Tempest 3D AudioTech for compatible audio output devices. The game will also feature support for the DualSense controller's haptic feedback and adaptive triggers for maximum immersion.
The gameplay enhancements of The Last of Us Part 2 will also be translated into the remake with improved stealth gameplay options and enemy AI. It will be interesting to see the new stealth mechanics used in the original game's combat scenarios.
Is Naughty Dog milking the franchise with the remake?
Naughty Dog developers are geniuses at creating high-quality games with a heart-warming narrative, be it the Uncharted series or The Last of Us titles.
The only work they released between the sequel and the remake is the Uncharted Legacy of Thieves bundle, which is essentially a remaster of Uncharted four and Lost Legacy for the PlayStation 5.
The Last of Us came out in 2013 and has only seen one remaster for the PlayStation 4 and a fully realized sequel. It's been almost 10 years since the original game came out, and yes, it might not be the first thing that players would want remade, but it doesn't feel like the developers are milking their most prized franchise.
Unlike many other games that developers just blatantly port to different console generations, à la Bethesda Game Studios' Skyrim and Rockstar Games' Gand Theft Auto V for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles, The Last of Us Remake is not just a port but a full-blown remake of the game with massive improvements made both to its presentation and gameplay.
With the remake, the original game will feel more in line with the sequel, giving new players coming fresh to the franchise a cohesive experience. This is something that Insomniac also did with their Spider-Man games before the release of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Also, given that the remake is a PlayStation 5 console exclusive, it's safe to say that by the time most players get to experience the remake, it will be more than 10 years old. This is because the PS5 is a highly coveted console available to few. Perhaps, in the larger scheme of things, enough time will pass for the sequel to be justifiable.
Disclaimer: This article reflects the opinions of the writer.