The Last of Us Part I (PC) Review
It seems like every month, I find another reason to regret buying a PS4 Pro at the start of the pandemic. The console’s main selling point was, and technically still is, its vast library of Sony-exclusive titles. God of War, Uncharted, Detroit: Become Human and The Last of Us are the very definitions of system sellers, with each title sporting best-in-class gameplay, graphics and narratives. However, over the past few years, the various Sony subcontractors have ported all of those games and a few others, to Windows. Even though their performance isn’t always great, the fact that they can be played with a mouse and keyboard is well worth the fact that you don’t need a black box to enjoy them. It should go without saying, then, that The Last of Us Part I is no exception to that now-defined rule, because even though its port is passable at best, it’s still one of the most enjoyable games of all time.
If you haven’t played the The Last of Us on Playstation, or at least watched the phenomenal HBO show, you’re seriously missing out. Joel and Ellie, the two protagonists of the game, and their journey across a post-apocalyptic America is one of the finest stories ever coded into a video game. Even though it’s almost 10 years old, it still holds up as being one of the few narratives that can be truly considered epic by any standard, as it’s not only incredibly well-written, but has perfect pacing and an optimal length for action-based media.
However, the previous versions of the game that released on PS3 and PS4 have started to show their age graphically and gameplay-wise, and that’s what Part I on PC changes. The visuals of the title are what have been upgraded the most, and even on medium settings, it’s one of the best looking games on the market. Using (presumably) the same engine that The Last of Us Part II runs on, there’s literally nothing that isn’t almost perfect from a technical perspective in it. Environments that once felt lifeless and boring in the base The Last of Us now seem truly alive thanks to great animations, lighting, textures and sounds. The facial animations in particular breathe new light into characters that were once almost dull, but everything in Part I’s audiovisual design deserves more awards Geoff Keighly (or our staff) have to give.
The same is true for the title’s gameplay to a lesser extent. The shooting, sneaking and stabbing of Part I simply feels fantastic because of the aforementioned animations and whatever combination of audio feedback and refinement that great games always use. The ability to use a mouse and keyboard, too, is nothing short of spectacular, because through some Santa Monica, California-based space magic, you’re never overpowered even though you have the ability to make pinpoint adjustments to your aim and movement.
However, Part I’s great gameplay, graphics and story are almost ruined by the title’s abysmal technical performance. On a mid-range gaming computer that’s been able to run every new release we’ve reviewed in recent memory, we weren’t able to get Part I to maintain a solid 60FPS even on its lowest settings and loading screens were almost always over a minute long. There are also numerous reports of the game randomly crashing, and plenty of passively serious bugs have been documented for the internet historians of the future, even though we were lucky enough to not have to deal with those specific issues (and with any luck, didn’t just jinx ourselves). It’s almost certain that the game will be patched to high heaven soon enough, but it’s still worth noting that at launch, Part I runs about as well as Cyberpunk 2077 did in December 2020 on consoles.
Technical problems aside, though, The Last of Us Part I on PC is without a doubt the definitive edition of Naughty Dog’s greatest game of all time. The graphical and gameplay improvements it makes over its previous versions make the title into something that’s not only a good game in its own right, but one of the few pieces of media that’s truly an experience to behold. Its audiovisual fidelity is second to none, its shooting and stabbing is stupidly satisfying, and its narrative still holds up as being one of the greatest end of the world tales in a video game. If you haven’t played the The Last of Us before and have a computer, you owe it to yourself to pick it up. Even if you have, though, adventuring through a post-apocalyptic America with a mouse and keyboard is worth doing at least one more time.
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