The Last of Us Part 1 review – a riveting PS5 remake
Naughty Dog's new PS5 game is an expertly-crafted remake of its iconic PS3 title, but is it worth the $70 price tag?
The Last of Part 1 shouldn’t be a controversial remake, but sadly it is. You can argue back and forth whether a game that isn’t even a decade old is worthy of being remade, but it’s the $70 price tag that has been the main target for detractors. Is the game really worth it?
After all, this is the third version of The Last of Us. The game was released on PS3 in 2013 and then again on PS4 as a Remastered edition in 2014. The Last of Us Part 1 is the definitive version of Naughty Dog’s iconic third-person adventure game – there’s no doubt about that. Still, despite the vast improvements to the game’s visual fidelity and some pleasing quality-of-life improvements, it’s too expensive to recommend wholeheartedly. And that’s why it only gets an honorable mention in our best PS5 games list.
Release date: September 2, 2022
It doesn’t help that The Last of Us Part 1 is releasing on the back of the PS5 price increase in most countries, making its $70 price tag seem all the more egregious. It feels like the perfect game for Sony’s PlayStation Plus Premium and Extra service (after you apply that PlayStation Plus discount code), which would have enticed more subscribers to the service and subsequently encouraged people to check out The Last of Us 2.
Sadly that’s not the case, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a fantastic game here, even if it may feel all too familiar for some. Read my The Last of Us Part 1 review below.
Score: 4 out of 5 🏆
How I tested The Last of Us Part 1 🧪
I played The Last of Us Part 1 and Left Behind expansion to completion on ‘Moderate’ difficulty. It took a total time of 14 hours and 38 minutes, but many collectibles remain as well as New Game+. I primarily played in Performance Mode with an unlocked framerate and dabbled with the 40Hz Quality mode.
The game is exclusive to PS5 and was played on an LG CX 55-inch OLED. I used a pair of Philips SHP9500 headphones for most of my playthrough but also tried out the Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset and Sony INZONE H9 headset.
A review code of the game was provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
What I liked about The Last of Us Part 1 ❤
😍 Sumptuous visuals. This isn’t a remaster. The Last of Us Part 1 is a bonafide, expertly-crafted remake that shows off the power of the PS5. The character’s facial animations are breathtaking, and the game’s new visuals elevate the performance of the motion capture artists and voice actors to a whole new level. It’s a beautiful game in every aspect, with meticulous attention to detail.
📖 Captivating story. There’s a reason why The Last of Us is so revered among gamers and critics alike. The game’s story is even more evocative today because the idea of a virus spreading worldwide and causing havoc is now all too relatable. If you’re new to the game, here’s a summary: You play as Joel, a survivor in a post-pandemic America that has been ravaged by a fungal plague. He meets a young girl named Ellie and is tasked with escorting her across what remains of the country in search of a group of freedom fighters called The Fireflies.
🤖 Dramatically improved AI. One of the best parts of Naughty Dog’s Last of Us remake is the improvements to enemy and ally AI. Your allies, in particular, will no longer run around like headless chickens during stealth sections of the game and will now take cover more smartly to avoid enemy threats. Nothing would break the immersion like Ellie just running back and forth in front of a Clicker as you hid, waiting for an opportunity to pounce. Enemies are also far more intelligent than they were before. Anyone who played the original games will immediately notice the difference.
👍 Suite of graphical options. The Last of Us Part 1 supports a wide array of graphical options. You can play the game at a crisp 4K resolution at 30fps in Quality mode or opt for a silky-smooth experience by running the game at 60fps /1440p resolution in Performance mode. Those with HDMI 2.1 TVs and VRR can enjoy an unlocked framerate in Performance mode and a Quality mode that runs the game at 40fps, which is noticeably smoother than 30fps.
🎮 DualSense features. Sony’s clever controller gets a workout in The Last of Us Part 1, adding a layer of immersion to almost every game element. Whether that’s the sensation of reloading a pump-action shotgun, walking through a blizzard, or merely the thud of hitting the floor when jumping from a high height, the DualSense shows how delightful it can be in The Last of Us Part 1.
🎧 3D audio implementation. Like the DualSense, 3D audio comes to the fore in The Last of Part 1. The PS5’s spatial audio tech makes it easier to pinpoint enemy locations, and the blood-curdling screams of the infected sound even more terrifying. Dilapidated buildings creak and groan as you pass through, and the game’s explosive set pieces – like when you’re being pursued by an armored vehicle – really shine.
🔫 New weapon bench animations. When you discover a weapon bench in The Last of Us Part 1, you’ll be treated to a rather exhaustively detailed look at how Joel upgrades his weapons with parts you’ve scavenged. It’s genuinely satisfying to see Joel craft and improve his arsenal in front of your eyes as you upgrade your weapons.
🆕 The number of extras included. The Last of Us Part 1 comes with the game’s short but sweet expansion, Left Behind, but fans of the series will be overjoyed with the number of unlockables on offer. You can view detailed models and concept art and activate various gameplay modifiers to freshen things up. The gameplay modifiers, like permadeath mode and speed-running stats, help add some longevity and replayablity to the main game, which took me about 13 hours to complete.
♿ Accessibility options. The Last of Us Part 1 has a staggering amount of accessibility options. A few examples include audio descriptions for cinematics, playing dialogue through the PS5 DualSense controller’s haptic feedback, and settings to help combat motion sickness. Even though I’m fortunate not to need any accessibility options when gaming (though I enjoy being able to adjust the field of view), it’s fantastic to see The Last of Us Part 1 will be able to be enjoyed by a far wider audience.
What I disliked about The Last of Us Part 1 💔
😡 The $70 price point. There’s no getting around the fact that, despite the fact The Last of Us Part 1 has been rebuilt from the ground up, this is still the same game from 2013. Yes, it’s the definitive experience and includes the expansion Left Behind, but fundamentally it plays just how you remember it. Even though it’s been years since I joined Joel and Ellie on their perilous journey, I could still remember all the key story beats, twists, and surprises. While I appreciate the work that’s gone into remaking the game, I don’t think it’s worth $70 unless you’re completely new to the series.
👋 No online multiplayer mode. The Last of Us Part 1 may include several fun extras like a speed-running mode, new game+, and detailed character models to view, but the original game’s online multiplayer mode, Factions, has been removed. That means we’re technically getting less than we got in 2013, which doesn’t help Sony’s argument for charging $70.
🥱 Repetitive gameplay. For as gripping as the game’s story can be, The Last of Us Part 1’s gameplay becomes fairly repetitive early on. You’ll choke out hundreds of enemies, give leg-ups to Ellie whenever you reach an obstacle, and solve environmental puzzles using ladders, planks, and wheelie bins. Gunplay feels far more satisfying in The Last of Us Part 1, but I’ve never been sold on the game’s rinse-and-repeat “walk a bit, talk a bit, fight a bit, solve an environmental puzzle” formula.
Should you buy The Last of Us Part 1?
✅ You’ve never played The Last of Us on PS3 or PS4.
✅ You want to play the definitive version of The Last of Us.
✅ You want a game that fully utilizes all of the PS5’s features.
❌ You’ve already played The Last of Us before.
❌ You prefer moment-to-moment gameplay over storytelling.
❌ You’re looking for a more open-ended experience.
Your questions answered 👇
Have a question about The Last of Us Part 1? We asked our audience on Twitter to rattle off some quick-fire questions, but you can get in touch in the comments section below.
Should you wait if you already have The Last of Us Remastered on PS4?
I’d wait for the game to go on sale or, fingers crossed, to see whether it joins Sony’s PlayStation Plus Premium and Extra service. As fantastic as the game looks, it’s still the same title millions have already played on the PS3 and PS4. I think $50 would have been a fairer and more palatable price point.
How much better does The Last of Us Part 1 look?
Significantly better. The game has been rebuilt using Naughty Dog’s latest tech to take advantage of the PS5’s hardware, and it shows. The new facial animations are industry-leading and help convey the character’s complex emotions more convincingly than ever before. All the graphical improvements serve to effectively ground you in the game’s world, such as new lighting, dense environmental detail, and impeccable texture detail.
How does the 3D audio work?
3D audio works in two ways: via a pair of headphones or through your TV speakers. Any pair of headphones will work, wireless or wired, and you can head into the PS5’s settings to configure 3D audio to your liking. In terms of how 3D audio works in the game, it’s a compelling addition that raises the tension of every encounter and makes the world feel more alive. You’ll want to wear a pair of quality headphones to get the most out of the game’s excellent audio.
How’s the gameplay “rework”?
This is perhaps the most disappointing element of The Last of Us Part 1, as gameplay improvements are subtle. The game controls and feels more responsive than before, and melee combat, in particular, is a lot smoother and natural. Enemy AI has also been given a much-needed overhaul, making encounters more challenging and realistic. However, The Last of Us Part 1 doesn’t include any gameplay mechanics from The Last of Us 2, like the ability to go prone, a dodge button, or aerial attacks. The meticulous weapon crafting system does carry over, but it would be a stretch to say the gameplay has been “reworked.” Refined is probably a fairer assessment.
Can you carry your upgraded weapons over in New Game+?
Yes, you can. There are two options when starting a New Game+: Full Loadout or Classic. Full Loadout lets you start the game with all your upgraded weapons once you find Joel’s backpack. Classic grants you access to certain weapons as the game progresses, just like when you first play the game.
Is the scary part still scary? 😱
I’d argue it’s even scarier because of the improved visuals and PS5’s 3D audio. The sickening sound of Clickers and infected send shivers down your spine, and the game’s claustrophobic environments feel even more suffocating than before.
I still can’t find a PS5 to play this game. What do I do? 😕
Have you seen our PS5 restock page that’s updated daily? Yeah, you’re going to find it with our help, as we’ve now surpassed helping 300,000 people get a console at The Shortcut and through Matt’s Twitter page.
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First published: August 31, 2022
Updated: February 13, 2023
Justification is easier if I balance the cost against all the hard work from individual devs pouring their heart into a beloved project. A return rate of $1-$2 per hour is possible and I think good value for games like a remade TLOU, but only if you have the time.
Would like to hear thoughts on that Inzone H9 headset. Justification for its price is nowhere to be found in the two weeks I've been using them, though only for one game. Hopefully spoopy corridors and clicker shrieks in Part I tomorrow night will make the H9 come alive.