The Last Of Us Part II proved to be a divisive sequel that undermined a lot of the themes of the first game and its gameplay failed to evolve, making it seem dated when it was new. There was no mistake about it – this was the most technically impressive game that Naughty Dog developed ever and the longest too and every moment showed players the money burning on the screen.
Considering how many poor technicians and artists crunched unbelievable hours into The Last Of Us Part II, it is no surprise how good it looks. What nobody expected was four years later, it would get remastered as a PlayStation 5 game and many gamers would doubt if it was necessary. The Last Of Us Part II already looks awesome, but how much better can it look?
A PlayStation 5 remaster of one of the costliest games could be a chance for Sony and Naughty Dog to address the shortcomings that disappointed so many gamers. How does this remaster improve upon the original? What new content is there? Find out in The Last Of Us Part II Remastered review!
The Last of Us Part II Remastered
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (as The Last of Us Part II), PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: January 19, 2024
Price: $49.99 USD
If you are going into The Last of Us Part II Remastered expecting a dramatic change, prepare to be disappointed because this is the exact same game from 2020. Every single aspect from the review from 2020 still applies to this remaster. Anyone interested in an in-depth review of the narrative and gameplay can re that review because all of the same points still apply.
If you didn’t like the game when it was new, you won’t like the remaster. The bungling sanctimonious moralizing, the joyless writing, and every unskippable forced walking section are just as insufferable as ever. The bare-bones stealth-action gameplay still feels mechanically automated and sluggish with a limited range of actions.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered attempts to justify its existence with a bunch of making-of videos, disjointed unfinished alpha sequences, commentaries that nobody will listen to, and arcadey roguelike mode called The Return. There are also allegedly improved visuals and improved frame rate.
The Last of Us Part II already pushed the PlayStation 4 to its limit with its outrageous level of detail and foliage density. The violent blood and gore effects were some of the most visceral and convincing which would probably make Jeffery Dhamer proud.
The upgrade to The Last of Us Part II Remastered does not offer much of a change. The resolution is certainly sharper, but the story and tone were always very rugged and set in the outdoors which was fine at 1080p. It is feasible that the draw distance and post-processing effects were improved, but it isn’t like the original needed it.
While a 60 fps upgrade is typically enticing, the free PlayStation 5 patch for the PS4 version renders further spending on an upgrade unnecessary, as it also bumps the framerate to 60 fps. Chances are if you’re a fan of The Last Of Us Part II, you already have the original game and have played it with 60 fps.
The Last of Us Part II Remastered‘s true selling point should have been the completion and integration of the three unfinished levels found in the making of extras. This would have demonstrably enriched the original experience and justified the remaster’s existence. Given the limited technological advancements since 2020, focusing on enhancing the gameplay or narrative would have been a wiser prioritization.
The remaster could have capitalized on the divisive ending by offering players a choice during the climactic Abby-Ellie confrontation. An alternate possible ending would have dramatically increased the value and purpose of this remaster.
The most substantial gameplay addition is The Return which aspires to lean in on The Last of Us Part II‘s core gameplay mechanics. The idea is that players attempt a run at randomized encounters based on areas from the main game. This is initially an enticing feature since it offers a lot of possibilities but the longer it goes on, the cracks in the gameplay become more apparent.
The Return‘s core problem lies in The Last of Us Part II‘s inherently basic gameplay, ill-suited for an arcade-like, pick-up-and-play experience. While modifiers like exploding enemies, vaulting speed boosts, and melee health regen can add some spice, the core systems of Part II remain unengaging and overly restrictive.
The Return‘s gameplay loop revolves solely around grinding points and completing challenges to unlock more modifiers, characters, and skins. This shallow cycle quickly loses its appeal, leaving you wondering if the grind to unlock Joel is truly worth it. These are literally women trapped in men’s bodies.
Naughty Dog’s apparent corner-cutting is evident in the shared animations and movement speed across all characters. Playing as a male character, in particular, exposes the reused mocap data from Ellie/Abby, making the experience feel distinctly uninspired.
If you played the PlayStation 4 version of The Last of Us Part II on PlayStation 5, you’ve essentially played The Last of Us Part II Remastered. For $9.99, owners of the PS4 version will find minimal visual improvement, with the sole notable addition being The Return mode.
Unfortunately, The Return also exposes the underlying weaknesses in Part II‘s mechanics, especially when compared to older stealth-action titles like Metal Gear Solid V or even Manhunt on PlayStation 2. Labeling this a “Remaster” is disingenuous, and “Director’s Cut” wouldn’t be accurate either. At best, The Last of Us Part II Remastered qualifies as a “Special Edition.”
The Last of Us Part II Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy purchased by Nichegamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. The Last of Us Part II Remastered is now available for PlayStation 5.