The Last of Us Part II Remastered Review

May 16, 2024


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In the desolate aftermath of a mutated Cordyceps fungus pandemic (ha - that word again!), humanity clings to survival in a world ravaged by violence and infected monstrosities. This is The Last of Us Part II, an action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Originally released in 2020 for PlayStation 4, it's the sequel to the critically acclaimed The Last of Us (2013), and with Sony this week adding a two-hour free trial for PS+ Premium members, it's the ideal time to revisit Ellie's journey.

The story this time around picks up five years later, following a 19-year-old Ellie living a semblance of peace in a post-apocalyptic Jackson, Wyoming. However, this fragile tranquillity shatters with the arrival of a violent group, propelling Ellie on a brutal quest for revenge that takes her across a ravaged America. And my word, is it good. 

A World Reforged in Stunning Detail

The Last of Us Part II Remastered isn't just a visual upgrade over its predecessor; it's a complete graphical overhaul. Naughty Dog has meticulously crafted a world teeming with detail. Seattle, the game's primary setting, feels like a living, breathing organism despite the dilapidated buildings and overgrown vegetation. Sunlight filters through fractured windows, casting dynamic shadows that dance across meticulously textured surfaces. Character models boast an impressive level of detail, conveying emotions through subtle expressions and body language. This visual feast is further enhanced by a powerful soundtrack that seamlessly blends moments of heart-pounding intensity with melancholic beauty.

The remastered version takes this visual splendour even further. Textures are sharper, lighting effects are more nuanced, and environments boast an even greater level of detail. While the core graphical style remains the same, the enhancements create a world that feels more immersive and believable than ever before. Performance has also been improved, with smoother frame rates and faster loading times that contribute to a more seamless gameplay experience, and of course the de facto option to focus on frames per second or visual acuity.

This is missable, bizarrely, but you do NOT want to do that!

A Dance with Mortality: The Narrative and Characters

Fundamental to The Last of Us Part II is that it’s a story-driven experience, and Naughty Dog doesn't shy away from exploring the emotional complexities of humans and humankind in a desperate struggle for survival. The narrative in part unfolds through the eyes of a new protagonist, offering a fresh perspective on the world and its struggles - not just one muddied by the fireflies and Ellie’s immunity. While we won’t delve into specifics here, the game explores themes of vengeance, grief, and the lengths people will go to in the name of survival. Expect a complex and emotionally charged journey that will force you to confront uncomfortable truths about human nature. The supporting cast is equally well developed, with factions vying for power and control in this ravaged world. Their motivations and backstories will slowly be revealed as you delve deeper into the narrative, adding weight to your encounters with them - and your experience as a whole.

In fact, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on how much of this game is what it is because of the cast, and how they bring the narrative to life. Ellie is a young woman forever changed by the events of the first game. Ashley Johnson delivers a phenomenal performance, capturing Ellie's evolution from a scared teenager to a hardened survivor grappling with immense loss and a burning desire for revenge. Her voice acting is raw and emotional, perfectly conveying Ellie's internal struggles and unwavering determination.

Throughout the journey, players encounter a diverse cast of supporting characters, each with their own motivations and agendas. The voice acting across the board is superb, with each character feeling distinct and believable. Troy Baker returns as Joel, Ellie's surrogate father figure. Newcomers like Laura Bailey and Shannon Woodward also deliver powerful performances, breathing life into characters who will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Naughty Dog's commitment to performance extends beyond voice acting. The game utilises cutting-edge motion capture technology, resulting in incredibly lifelike character animation. Every movement, from the way Ellie hefts a rifle to the subtle flinch of a character reacting to danger, feels natural and believable. The combination of stellar voice acting and motion capture creates a truly immersive experience, drawing players deeper into the world and its characters.This game is the culmination of all Naughty Dog has done since Uncharted was released. 

Some actual colour? Wow!

Refined Gameplay for a Brutal World

The core gameplay loop of The Last of Us Part II retains the essence of the original. Players navigate a hostile world, scavenging for resources and crafting weapons to defend themselves against the infected and human threats. Stealth plays a pivotal role, as resources are scarce and direct confrontation can be deadly. The game offers a variety of approaches, allowing players to utilise traps, distractions, and brutal melee combat to overcome enemies. While the core mechanics feel familiar, Naughty Dog has subtly refined the experience, introducing new traversal options and crafting mechanics that add depth and strategic variety.

The remastered version offers no significant gameplay changes, but the enhancements to visuals and performance create a smoother and more responsive experience. The increased detail in environments allows for a more tactical approach to combat, as you can better utilise cover and plan your strategies. Additionally, the DualSense controller's haptic feedback adds a new layer of immersion, allowing you to feel the weight of each weapon and the tension in each encounter.

For players who already experienced The Last of Us Part II on PS4 or PC, the decision to revisit the game in the remastered version may depend on several factors. The graphical enhancements create a more immersive experience, and the improved performance offers a smoother gameplay experience. However, the core gameplay and narrative remain unchanged. If you're looking to experience the story again with a visual upgrade, or if you haven't played it yet and want the definitive version, then The Last of Us Part II Remastered is a worthwhile investment. 

Love the look, Ellie

A Legacy Remastered: Conclusion

The Last of Us Part II Remastered isn't just a prettier version of an already great game; it's a definitive experience. Naughty Dog takes everything that made the first game great and builds upon it, crafting a world that is both breathtakingly beautiful and utterly unforgiving. The narrative promises a complex and emotionally charged journey, while the refined gameplay mechanics ensure a tense and strategic dance with mortality. Whether you're a seasoned survivor of the original game or a newcomer to this brutal world, The Last of Us Part II Remastered promises an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

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The Last of Us Part II Remastered is the definitive way to experience the latest in Naughty Dog’s fantastic narrative games. It’s a game for adults and if you’ve followed Naughty Dog’s work, it’s the end point for where they’ve been travelling. In terms of gameplay however, it is more of the same - but that’s not a bad thing. ‍
Luciano Howard

I've been gaming for 35+ years on the Commodore VIC-20 to the PlayStation 5 and pretty much everything in-between. I enjoy all kinds of games but if I had to pick a couple in particular, I'd say I adore Mario and love Dark Souls. I can talk about either an awful lot should you want to!