Making a The Last of Us Part II Remastered review isn’t easy, for a number of reasons. I was one of the many who believed this was something that wasn’t necessarily needed. The original PS4 version was already generation defining in its systems and presentation while having a buttery smooth 60fps mode for Ps5. Why did this need to happen? That’s the question that kept ringing in my mind. However, after playing through the minor but substantial additions in The Last of Us Part II Remastered, I could see why this is an easy cop for those who haven’t continued the story of Joel and Ellie just yet, and a compelling reason to “upgrade” for those who have already.
The Last of Us, while only have 2 titles, is one of the most recognizable franchises in the video game industry. The first game was easily one of the best to ever be released in the PS3, ending that generation of console at such a high note. A remastered version with improved framerates and polished up visuals came out on Ps4. Later on, Part II was finally released which then prompted the developers to remaster the first game using the much-improved engine of the sequel. It was great. I get to experience one of the greatest narrative driven games of the modern generation with Ps5 level graphics. Surely Naughty Dog will move on to their other franchises or maybe create a new one worth looking forward to, right? Right?
The Last of Us Part II was and still is one of the best-looking games ever made. The visual fidelity of that game that perfectly captured the beauty of the dark and gloom of a world trying to survive amidst a force that desperately wants it dead still sticks to me to this day as one of the most memorable journeys I ever took in any medium. The narrative, what has been said about it already that hasn’t been before? Naughty Dog is one of the best storytellers in the games industry. Whether you like it or not, there’s no denying that Part II contains some of the most brutal, personal, and authentic tackling of human emotion and experiences.
I still vividly remember my first playthrough of Part II. All throughout, I felt every feeling it wanted and needed me to have. I was nervous, scared, hopeful, sad, angry, exhausted, and everything in between, all at once. By the end of it, I just stared at the credits, contemplating the journey I just took. I didn’t know what to feel. Was I satisfied? Accepting? In a state of denial? To this day, I still don’t know what to tell you. I don’t even have a straight answer as to if I really loved it or not. One thing’s for sure, it stuck to me in a way than very few narratives have. And that, is an achievement in it of itself.
Even though the game has been out since 2020, I still won’t get into much story details. This is a series that does its best work when it takes you by surprise. And that’s even more true with The Last of Us Part II. Say what you will about it, but I still vividly remember my first playthrough. All throughout, I felt every feeling it wanted and needed me to have. I was nervous, scared, hopeful, sad, angry, exhausted, and everything in between, all at once. By the end of it, I just stared at the credits, contemplating the journey I just took. I didn’t know what to feel. Was I satisfied? Accepting? In a state of denial? To this day, I still don’t know what to tell you. I don’t even have a straight answer as to if I really liked it or not. One thing’s for sure, it stuck to me in a way than very few narratives have. And that, is an achievement in it of itself.
A lot has been said about Part II’s story. A lot of good, a lot of bad, and definitely a whole lot of ugly. For me, I never paid much attention to any of it. I look at The Last of Us games as an invitation to remember how it’s like to be truly human. It’s a personal journey for me as much as it is for the characters I equally fall in love and hate. That is the true strength of Naughty Dog. They are one of the few developers who goes above and beyond the medium they choose to use. Every moment of dialogue, every second of a cutscene, or every action a character makes feels authentic and intentional. Much like the first game, there is a crystal-clear sense of narrative direction and thematic purpose in Part II.
The sequel is slightly longer than the original. About 5-10 hours more but boy, does it feel so much longer than that. It’s both good and bad. A lot of this game is spent trying to deal with the consequences of the events of the first game. What it means to move on from what happened and how to push forward. There is a lot of heavy stuff integrated in the gameplay and cutscenes. This is not a relaxing game. By the middle part, you’ll feel torn. Near the end, you’ll feel exhausted. And by the time it finishes, you’ll find yourself stunned in a way that you might not fully understand.
What makes it all worth going through, other than the fact that I’ve already emphasized how top class the storytelling is, is the gameplay. The animations, physics, gunplay, and overall mechanical feel of Part II is absolutely phenomenal. This is one of the best third person action stealth game you will ever find on the market. The controls are incredibly intuitive, intense, and highly engaging. It all works so well together with the impressive environments. The level design is much more improved from the first game. It doesn’t let the basic needs of gameplay to dictate the geography. It lets the design work hand in hand with what the gameplay needs at any given area. This makes every place feel more interesting and dynamic to play through.
Is it much different than when I played the PS4 version on the PS5? No, not really. Unless you zoom in and look at the most finite of details. This is a stunning game that feels phenomenal to play. Remastered or not. This is just another excuse for me to experience it all over again.
The campaign of Part II is not for everyone to like, but I do believe it’s something you have to experience. I don’t need to waste my time recommending that you play through the first one, given that it’s a modern-day masterpiece. I guarantee you that you’ll be itching to know what’s next. Part II provides you with the answers that you might be looking for and present you with ones that you might not exactly want. The best thing about all of it is that you won’t expect most, if not all of it.
Given that I had already played through the game, I choose to do my current run with the audio commentary on. Both the developers and the cast would talk through key moments of the game, mostly cutscenes, explaining some extra information such as key details, behind-the-scenes insights, and alternate versions that were either cut or changed while filming. It was all very interesting to go through. They would each recall their personal perspectives of what the story bit is about or the time when they were still shooting or coding the game. It made me go through some of the heavier stuff much better that’s for sure. But on a more serious note, it made me appreciate the game so much more, knowing what everyone had to go through to push this thing to the finish line. If you decide to pick this game up, I definitely recommend you turn on the commentary track with your repeat playthroughs.
Additionally, there’s Lost Levels, which allows you to explore three never-seen-before early development version of levels which are the Sewers, Jackson Party, and Boar Hunt. It’s not anything game changing but it is pretty cool to see. It’s there if you want it but its easily missable if you’re not interested.
“You have no idea what loss is.”
Easily the best addition to the package is No Return, a rougelite survival mode where you can play as different characters, each with their own specific buffs and special attributes. You even get to play as certain character for the very first time in series history. I won’t be spoiling them if you don’t know already but I guarantee you it is a cool thing to see how each one subtly shifts your playstyle depending on what they’re good at.
Aside from the story, I spent hours and hours completing levels, trying to get as far as I could, completing challenges as they progressively get harder. There is a surprising amount of depth that can be found here. You first start off in a safe space, where you can purchase upgrades, improve character abilities, and restock on equipment. You then choose a path to take where you play a series of randomized encounters. You’ll either fight through the infected or the different factions in different locations featured in the main campaign. It all culminates in intense boss battles that hand my palms sweating and my adrenaline running by the end of it all.
Each encounter has different modes. Assaults pits you against waves of enemies that you have to take down either through stealth or go loud. Capture is an objective-based mode that requires you to break into a safe guarded by enemies. Holdout is where you’ll be joined by an AI controlled teammate as you both fight through swarms of infected. And my personal favorite, Hunted, which requires you to survive until the timer runs out while waves of aggressive enemies run at you. It’s frantic, intense, and incredibly satisfying to pull off.
While worrying about your limited ammo and depleting resources, there are also multiple gameplay modifiers that can help or ruin your experience. There is a surprising amount of customization here. You can choose to make your runs as simple or as complicated as you like. You can activate certain buffs or even determine what type of enemies you want to fight against. It’s a pretty deep system that is fairly simple to understand but highly engaging to explore.
The only massive misfire I see in this is the lack of coop or an endless horde mode for that matter. The whole time I was playing No Return, that was all I could think about. Easily one of the biggest missed potentials in Part II Remastered. The gameplay would’ve leaned into a coop horde mode so well.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered review Final Verdict – 9/10
The Last of Us Part II has always been a special game for me. Getting to experience all of it, plus more with the Remastered version was just a cherry on top. This franchise has built me up, destroyed me, and did it all over again multiple times.
Full DualSense support is definitely a massive plus for Part II, given how immersive it already was. The improved graphical elements such as native 4K performance in Fidelity Mode and Variable Refresh Rate support are great but the additional increased texture resolution, Level of Detail distances and improved animation sampling rates provide barely enough noticeable improvements because the original version was already so stunning to begin with. If anything, that’s such a good problem to have. How can you improve on something that’s already deemed to be near perfect to the naked eye?
If you haven’t played Part II yet, this is the definitive version to get. No question. If you do already own the game, it’s up to you to decide whether or not the $10 upgrade is worth a rougelite survival mode, 3 unreleased levels, and a developer commentary track. There’s also the Guitar Free Play mode if you’re feeling musically inclined. Much like how the story will have you feeling, there is not clear answer. The Last of Us Part II is a very impressive game. You just have to ask yourself if you’re willing to go through it.
This review was made using a PS5 code provided by the publisher.