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PlayStation pricing is in the news once again. Consumer rights expert Alex Neill recently filed a collective lawsuit against Sony, seeking compensation on behalf of millions of UK gamers, who the claimant believes have been systematically ripped-off by the gaming behemoth’s commercial strategy. It is therefore perhaps not the most opportune time for the PlayStation Store to be charging seventy-odd quid for a nearly decade-old game.
(Contains minor spoilers for The Last Of Us Part I)
But the newly-rechristened The Last Of Part I is perhaps more than a cynical re-release or tweaked remaster.
Boasting a ground-up redesign of the original’s visuals, it falls short of being a full-blown remake, and gaming lexicon seems to need yet another new word to describe exactly what developer Naughty Dog is looking to achieve with this release. Hyping up HBO’s forthcoming The Last Of Us TV show is surely a big part of their plan.
So what exactly do you get for your inflation-squeezed shekels, aside from a more picturesque dystopia and an even-more realistically rugged beard on protagonist Joel’s exquisitely rendered chin?
Part of the answer is accessibility: the game’s array of options exceeds even The Last Of Us Part II’s staggering range of toggleable settings, and see Naughty Dog blazing a very welcome and impressive trail in this long-neglected area.
Another part is content: the game is packaged with brilliant DLC Left Behind, which fans of the original should absolutely check out if they missed it the first time around.
The action adventure’s core mechanics have also been reworked to incorporate the superior AI boasted by its sequel, so stealth sections, brawls and gunfights feel as tense, crunchy and satisfying as they did in Ellie’s 2020 revenge odyssey.
In truth, the main thing this re-whatever-it-is offers is opportunity. An opportunity to revisit the game’s brilliantly-crafted locations, like the blasted ruins of Boston or the brutally beautiful mountain snowscapes where Ellie hunts her first deer.
An opportunity to remember how fantastically the voice performances of Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson sold the game’s heart-mangling story.
An opportunity to enjoy the gameplay, which feels repetitive but still rewardingly cinematic, especially when you successfully shiv your way through a challenging encounter on your first attempt.
There will of course be those who think this is another shameless Sony cash-in, especially fans of the original game’s highly-regarded multiplayer mode, which is completely lacking from this iteration. But it’s difficult to criticise a game that is so influential, so painstakingly-constructed, so flippin’ good, for making itself available to a new console generation.
In an industry infamously bad at its own conservation, it’s vital that treasured gems are not lost to the ravages of time, a fate that Silent Hill 2’s disastrous HD edition taught us can befall even revered classics.
Some might point to the efforts of studios like Nightdive as a better way to achieve the goal of preserving gaming history – their faithful restorations of Quake and Shadow Man polish the original visuals rather than completely overhauling them – but those who don’t want to splash out on this upgraded masterpiece can always do what Joel himself couldn’t: just walk away.
This game was reviewed by Jon Richter, writer of dark fiction and co-host of the Dark Natter and Hosts In The Shell podcasts. Follow him on Twitter @RichterWrites, Instagram @jonrichterwrites, or visit his website at www.jon-richter.com.
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