With The Last of Us Remastered’s PS4 release just weeks away (July 29th), I dove into a pre-release version of the game to see exactly how Naughty Dog is leveraging PS4’s hardware to upgrade last year’s biggest Game of the Year winner.
First, there’s the immediately noticeable bump in native screen resolution. The jump from 720p (PS3) to native 1080p (PS4) gives the visuals a major shot in the arm. The crisp new presentation banishes those nasty jaggies to the margins, while higher resolution environment textures adorn the lovingly crafted post-apocalyptic environments.
But the kicker is the new framerate. I’ll admit to being at least a bit skeptical on hearing that Naughty Dog would target a smoother, more fluid 60 frames per second for The Last of Us Remastered. I wondered whether it would add a distracting layer of artificiality, that it might somehow interfere with the game’s cinematic look and feel. Luckily, based on my hands-on experiences at a recent media event in New York City, those concerns feel entirely unwarranted. Played at the higher framerate, The Last of Us Remastered has a silky smooth feel that makes aiming and camera control feel more responsive and natural.
Conveniently, the PS4 version was shown side-by-side with the original PS3 game. Curious, I picked up the DualShock 3 and panned the camera around for a few seconds, before hastily switching right back to Remastered. It’s nice to see that Naughty Dog is giving players the choice to lock TLOUR to 30 frames per second — which PlayStation.Blog’s own Ryan Clements currently favors — but for me the higher framerate is no contest. I suspect this one will boil down to personal preference.
Then there are a slew of subtler visual details. Lighting quality has received a boost, with improved shadow detail. Joel and Ellie’s in-game character models also look more detailed, sporting higher resolution textures that allowed me to see the fabric weave in Joel’s filthy flannel shirt. The 1080p presentation also helped me spot subtle visual details I’d never noticed in the original PS3 version, like the way tiny streams of blood trickle down Joel’s arm when he’s injured, or how rats weave erratically through garbage-strewn ruins.
The gameplay remains unchanged, though the higher framerate does lend a feeling of increased responsiveness. The most notable difference is that the L2 and R2 triggers now control aiming and firing — and yep, you can switch back to the classic L1 and R1 controls if that floats your boat.
Though I didn’t get a chance to try out the multiplayer mode (a personal favorite), the campaign is looking mighty promising. The Last of Us Remastered will come complete with all previously released DLC, including the excellent story chapter Left Behind. And at a reduced price of $50, it’s a good bet for new PS4 owners who missed out on one of the best games of the generation, or seasoned TLOU veterans eager for another dose of Joel and Ellie.