LTTP: The Last of Us Remastered

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The Last of Us: Part II released weeks ago, but I’m not repeating the same “mistake” that I made back in 2013 with The Last of Us; I’m waiting for the PlayStation 5 and its inevitable enhanced version. To pass the time, I decided to revisit The Last of Us via its PlayStation 4 remaster and finally play the Left Behind expansion. 

7 years is a long time in games and despite the remastering effort and the PlayStation 4 Pro enhancements, this game shows its age. What was once a graphical powerhouse is now a dated, but respectable rendition on a PlayStation 3 classic. After consulting the experts at Digital Foundry, I played it with the 4K 60FPS mode. 

While I didn’t have complaints with the performance or picture quality, I did find one glaring distraction; the reflections. It wasn’t the textures or animations that stood out to me, it was the reflections in puddles and other reflective surfaces which I found to be pristine to the point of distraction. It’s a silly thing to get hung up on, but when we’re deep in the hype cycle of a new generation of consoles and its ray traced reflections, it’s hard to ignore.

It was also difficult to ignore the bugs. Fire effects went missing a couple of times and Joel’s character model inexplicably warped randomly during a few transitions from cinematic to game. I’ve always had good luck with Naughty Dog’s games; they were near flawless experiences for me. With that in mind and the fact that remasters tend not to falter, experiencing an imperfect walk through memory lane was a bit of a downer.

The opening of the game is still one of the more powerful openers in video games. It sets the tone so well and continued to resonate in 2020. Playing this game during a pandemic was a bit cathartic. Things could be a whole lot worse and desperate for us; human stupidity can quickly transition to human cruelty and the latter is not something I want to experience first hand.

I replayed the game at the hard difficulty. It took a bit of time to get used to the flow of the game again. I had to convince myself not to take out everything in sight via stealth because it just wasn’t fun that way. The instant-death Clicker grabs were especially annoying until I allowed myself the use of guns, Molotovs, and other weapons. Active foraging and exploration ensured I had the tools to solve the combat scenarios, I placed my trust in the game to not screw me over. As long as I wasn’t too liberal with my use of those tools, I made it through with plenty of resources at my disposal.

Revisiting The Last of Us was just as impactful as my initial play through — I would even say it was more impactful the second time around. I disagreed with Joel’s decision the first time, but I really developed a disdain for him leading up to that selfish act in the end. On the flip side, I grew to like Ellie more after playing the Left Behind DLC where I got to see how life was for a teenager who was born into life in the quarantine zone. 

Bugs and dated aspects aside, I found that The Last of Us Remastered held up in 2020. There have been refinements in game developments since its debut in 2013, but its core qualities still resonate today. I’m ready for The Last of Us: Part II. I’m ready to see what happens with Ellie and Joel. I’m curious if she discovers the truth and what she does with that knowledge. I’m ready for the inevitable departure of Joel and I’m ready to discover what the bottom pit of humanity looks like.

Verdict:
I liked it

Ratings Guide

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Review

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was an excellent way to wrap up the adventures of Nathan Drake. I don’t want the rapscallion to star in another adventure again. I am, however, perfectly fine with more Uncharted games — especially if they are in the same vein as Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Giving secondary characters like Chloe Fraser and Nadine Ross their own adventure was something I wanted for quite some time. Although the bombastic action has become very familiar these days, playing as Chloe through the jungles of India felt surprisingly fresh. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced Uncharted like this. A Thief’s End was a long adventure that explored Nathan Drake inside and out. The Lost Legacy fleshed out the likes of Chloe and Nadine more but they didn’t perform the playable deep dives like in the last game. As a result, The Lost Legacy was briskly paced like the earlier Uncharted titles. 

Many of the mechanics and ideas of A Thief’s End were remixed and brought over once again. Chloe and Nadine found themselves in an open area where they could tackle objectives in whatever order suited them. They fought through a train and bombed across the jungles in a jeep as well. Again, they were not fresh ideas but they were executed very well which made their repeat appearances acceptable.

Having just played more open ended games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Galaxy, The Lost Legacy (and the Uncharted franchise) felt restrictive. I was used to being able to go just about anywhere. It took some time to relearn the unspoken rules of Uncharted where only certain handholds, ledges, and selectively lit areas were accessible. Chloe fell to her untimely death numerous times under my control and I’ve played the game before. I cannot imagine how many times newcomers would die. Thankfully the checkpoints were generous and the load times were quick.

Franchises like Uncharted, God of War, and Assassin’s Creed do a great job of bringing mythologies, that I wouldn’t normally interact with, to my attention. The incidental learning is fantastic. I don’t know why I never looked up the origins of Shiva but I’m glad to know that she’s more than just a Final Fantasy summon now. It’s a shameful admission but I’m happy that Uncharted helped rectify that. 

I’m also glad to have played my first HDR game from beginning to end. I checked out Uncharted 4, Gears of War 4, and other titles briefly but the Lost Legacy was the first complete game. It shouldn’t be a surprise but the HDR implementation was great and the visual presentation as a whole was top notch. However, the number of weird glitches that I experienced was unusually high for me. Normally, I wouldn’t face bugs like this in a Naughty Dog title.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune debuted 10 years ago and wooed me with a charming cast of characters. Little did I know, that 10 years later, I would be playing the fifth installment of the franchise starring none of the characters that debuted a decade ago. Chloe Fraser and Nadine Ross were strong and likable characters; I would love to see more adventures of this magnitude starring the two of them. They’ve proven that Uncharted doesn’t need Nathan Drake to succeed.

Verdict:
I love it

Ratings Guide

Checkpoint: Resurgence Edition

The Game Awards have improved dramatically. So much so that I am considering watching more of it next year. I caught a very brief glimpse of it and I was impressed with presentation and production; it actually resembled a normal awards show. Congratulations to Geoff Keighley.

The two announcements that were of note to me SoulCalibur VI and Bayonetta 3. I hear SCVI is channeling the original Dreamcast release which is something that tickles my fancy. As far as Namco fighters are concerned, I have a stronger affinity towards this sword swinging fighter than the King of Iron Fist Tournament. Bayonetta 3 is coming out exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. It’s truly amazing to see Nintendo go out and just grab this former multiplatform character action game and treat it like one of their own.

I will undoubtedly pick up the third installment but what about the upcoming Switch re-releases? I very much enjoy the idea of having the entire trilogy on one platform – especially if they all run at a near faultless 60 FPS. If I end up picking up Bayonetta 1+2 again, this would be the third copy of Bayonetta 1 that I own and the second copy of 2. Who am I kidding? If Bayonetta 2 ends up being a superior version of the Wii U exclusive, I think I’ll just pull the trigger and pick both up.

Capcom is on the upswing with a handful of announcements that’s slowly restoring my faith in the company. They’re making Mega Man 11 and it doesn’t look like a pure nostalgia grab like the 9 and 10. It looks a bit weird at first glance but I am warming up to the chosen art style. They’re also re-releasing all the Mega Man X titles on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch. I love the idea of owning all the X games on the Switch. If it’s a quality port, I might just pick it up there.

The same can be said for the 30th Anniversary Collection of Street Fighter which includes arcade ports of 12 Street Fighter games excluding IV and V. I understand not including Street Fighter V but what about IV? I would even pay closer to $79.99 for a version with that game included.

And finally, Street Fighter V actually piqued my interest this past Sunday with the reveal of the third season’s cinematic opener. Sakura, Blanka, Cody, and Sagat make their return and Capcom looks to be injecting some serious effort into the single player portion of the game. I don’t know if I would go as far as to buy this game again but I’m happy to see Capcom still trying with it.

I am still marching towards full completion of Super Mario Odyssey. By and large, I am enjoying the hell out of Super Mario Odyssey; there’s a lot to love but I am losing steam collecting Moons. Huge swathes of the moons feel like tedious collectibles like feathers in Assassin’s Creed. But for every frivoulous Moon, there’s a charming or clever one that makes it worthwhile. I think I’m ready to write up my review of it.

I started Uncharted: The Lost Legacy last week and it’s a bit of an eye opener. Going from playing Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to playing Uncharted highlights some glaring communication issues with Naughty Dog’s otherwise excellent game. Uncharted (and games in general) speak their own languages and despite years of playing Uncharted, I still mess up and drop to my death on occasion. My girlfriend asked: “How do you know where to go?” and I had to explain the subtle cues and other signposts that a hyper detailed game like Uncharted uses to her. It takes time to learn and adjust to the way games like this communicate but once you do, games like this become a cake walk.

Checkpoint: Uncharted Retrospective Edition

Brad sat down with Naughty Dog’s John “Cowboy” Bellomy to talk Uncharted tech and how far this series as come since Drake’s Fortune. I’m about 1:15 in and so far it’s wonderful. I love hearing development stories and just how proud they are of what they’ve accomplished.

Much of the technical details flew over my head but I love the passion and reverence Cowboy shares for it. Moving from key set piece to key set piece and highlighting the challenges and solutions they came up with to tackle them. I loved hearing the proxy boat trick in Uncharted 3 for example.

After watching this video, I just want to go back and replay the Uncharted games. It’s easily become one of my favorite franchises ever.

Besides fawning over Uncharted, I’ve been chipping away at Odin Sphere. it doesn’t seem to ever want to end which is not a great thing.

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