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Editor’s Note: Below is a rundown of the technical accomplishments of The Last of Us Remastered, and how they affect the game itself. For a review of the PS3 version of the game, which delves deeper into the mechanics, story and world-building (which are all unchanged), click through to Simon’s review and feature here.
The easiest -and perhaps most accurate – way to describe this PS4 version of The Last of Us is to say that it now looks like you remember it doing so on PS3. Seeing it running side by side with its predecessor is quite a shock: despite the obvious tremendous technical achievement, the last-generation version now looks decidedly ropey in comparison.
60 frames per second (or as close as, perceptual 60 perhaps) is one of the headline additions, and it does improve the game, especially in outdoor areas where the PS3 version was shown to noticeably chug. But more impressive than that is the redone texture work, which takes the (already-excellent) quality of the original and improves on it further. Blood spots pool on Joel’s shirt – on which you can now see almost every detail on the check pattern – shop fronts pop out, graffiti looms from doomed checkpoints, and the way Joel’s pistol is tucked into jeans is impressive (clipping issues on the whole, as well, seem mostly negated).
Draw distance is also excellent: combined with the improved texture work it gives the world an even bigger feeling of oppressive, overwhelming size and scale. The PS3 version wasn’t exactly lacking on the geometry front – it always felt like the city was on top of you, making every step count. It’s magnified here.
Lighting has also been drastically improved: Sunlight streaks across the city, throwing shadows,especially in the sections of the game that take place at dusk or the magic hour. The only downside of this is that, occasionally, the lighting can be too harsh on the two principal characters (whose models have also been improved): Joel, in particular, thanks to a combination of his natural snarl, his rather glassy eyes, and the beaming sun, looks a lot like the Incredible Hulk at times.
All told, The Last of Us Remastered is the best version of one of the last generation’s best games. Those expecting it to look totally ‘next-gen’ may be disappointed, as even at its peak it resembles a last-generation game being played at Ultra settings on PC. Still, it’s obvious a lot of work and care has gone into this, and it will please both newcomers and old fans alike.