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The Last Of Us: Part II Remastered Review:: A Worthy Upgrade

The Foolish Angel Dances with the Devil (EP 1 Review): Another Average Reverse Isekai?

The Foolish Angel Dances with the Devil (Episode 2) Review: Not Just Another Average Reverse Isekai

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While The Last of Us Part II was first teased in 2016, it was its E3 2018 gameplay trailer that pulled me into it. To this day, it remains one of the best gameplay trailers ever released. The leap from Uncharted 4 to the seamless combat animations and photorealistic presentation in TLOU 2 was unlike anything I had seen before. Before you continue, I would like you to check it out while you can.

Everything was going great for Naughty Dog until a massive leak happened and the pandemic delayed its final release multiple times. The internet went wild causing unsurmountable levels of controversies never seen before. When TLOU 2 finally hit shelves in June 2020, it had both audiences and critics divided. Nevertheless, I picked the game a few months after its release. Since then, I have beaten it on grounded and even got the platinum for it.

Two years ago, it also got a performance patch for PS5 that enabled 60 fps at a locked 1440p resolution. So one cannot help but wonder does this game needs a natively remastered PS5 port. What more could it possibly do? Well, let’s find out.

The Last Of Us Part II Remastered will be released on PlayStation 5 on 19th Jan 2024. A planned PC port is in the works and will be released in 2024. It is a direct sequel to The Last of Us Part I which has been adapted into a critically-acclaimed television series with its second season slated for a 2025 release window.

Stories Left Untold

The game’s release in June 2020 was met with a divided fanbase due to its risky narrative choices. In many ways, TLOU 2 was the straw that broke the back of Naughty Dog’s critically accomplished and technically unraveled linear game design. Some loved it and some hated it. Nevertheless, it was one hell of a rollercoaster ride that had only one exit. It dealt with themes of Loss, the Destructive Cycle of Violence, and Forgiveness through an extremely linear game design that forced you to carry decisions you may not agree with.

However, the time has been kind to The Last of Us Part 2 over the years, allowing players to appreciate the depth and complexity of its storytelling. The emotional impact of the plot has lingered, and this remastered edition provides an opportunity for players to reevaluate and reexperience the narrative in a new light, thanks to the inclusion of a commentary mode.

This unique feature allows players to gain insights into the creative process behind the game as voice actors and director Neil Druckmann break down their cinematic scenes. It adds an extra layer of appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship involved in bringing the characters and story to life. Be it the lighting, character motivations, and their thoughts, the commentary does a commendable job of highlighting those other overlooked aspects of the cinematics and gives the player a new perspective to look upon.

It also does an incredible job of showcasing how Naughty Dog brought the city of Seattle to life. From taking inspiration from Sucker Punch’s Seattle map featured in Infamous: Second Son to how the city will be overwhelmed with flooding based on its cityscape, the team took everything into account. The final version is possibly the most detailed and accurate version of Seattle featured in a video game.

Aside from that, there are no notable additions to its single-player story except the skins you can unlock for Ellie and Abby along with a few additions to gameplay modifiers. Still given the depth of its commentary, it is still worth replaying it all. To make things easier, the game does allow you to carry over your PS4 saves along with the unlocked achievements. As for me, I started a new playthrough in Perma-death mode and enabled commentary to make the most out of it.

The Unseen and Unfinished

The Lost Levels, a prominent addition, showcases content that was originally left out of the final release. This bonus content provides players with a deeper understanding of the narrative and characters, offering a comprehensive experience for those hungry for more from the world of The Last of Us.

In the Lost Levels, players are treated to a fascinating behind-the-scenes journey, showcasing not only cut content but also levels that were in various stages of development months away from a final release. This inclusion provides a unique insight into the game’s evolution, demonstrating the iterative nature of game development and the creative decisions made along the way. Exploring these lost levels feels like uncovering hidden gems, giving players a deeper appreciation for the intricate design choices that ultimately shaped the final product.

As remarkable as it is, it is also pretty short as there are only three of them and each one of them can be beaten and covered thoroughly in 10-20 minutes. It’s good but so short that it left me wanting more of it. Despite some missing assets, voiceovers, and animations, Lost Levels remains one of the unique aspects of this remastered version and probably the first of its kind in a video game.

No Return

A revolutionary addition is the new Rogue-like mode, ‘No Return.’ This mode lets players step into the shoes of 12 prominent characters featured in the game, each with their own unique abilities and challenges. It adds a layer of replayability, allowing fans to explore different perspectives within the rich narrative tapestry.

This mode allows players to step into the shoes of 12 prominent characters featured in the game, each with their own distinct abilities and playstyles. ‘No Return’ comprises various game modes, each presenting a different challenge to overcome. Each run of No Return features 6 encounters with branched choices.

The sixth and final encounter features the bosses – unique and formidable adversaries with distinct attack patterns and weaknesses that provide a truly challenging experience. Ranging from the Bloater that you encounter at the arcade to the unsurpassable Rat-king the mode unlocks one boss for each completed run.

As players progress through ‘No Return,’ they unlock additional character skins and new characters, adding an element of progression and customization to the roguelike experience. Each character brings a fresh perspective to the gameplay, with unique strengths and weaknesses that significantly impact the strategies players employ.

Joel, for instance, utilizes unstoppable brute melee combat, offering immense power in close-quarters engagements. However, he cannot dodge, requiring players to rely on precise timing and calculated aggression. On the other hand, characters like Jesse, Dina, and Ellie exhibit greater agility, allowing them to dodge attacks and navigate the battlefield with finesse. Despite sharing a similar melee impact, these characters bring a different flavor to the gameplay.

Even within seemingly similar playstyles, such as Joel and Abby, subtle differences emerge. Their melee approaches may appear comparable at first glance, but nuanced variations in movement, attack speed, and defensive capabilities distinguish the two characters. In addition to that, there are environmental modifiers like fog, rain, and blizzard that will change visibility. Likewise, the enemies also vary based on the encounters, be it infected, Seraphites, or WLF, each enemy now has a robust AI that can swarm you and end your run in no time. This attention to detail not only adds diversity to the gameplay but also underscores Naughty Dog’s commitment to delivering a nuanced and immersive gaming experience.

Overall, it is a remarkable addition, offering players a fresh and dynamic way to experience the game’s rich combat and gameplay mechanics. The inclusion of diverse game modes, challenging encounters, and a progression system through character unlocks ensures that ‘No Return’ adds considerable replay value, making it an essential component of the remastered edition. For this mode alone, the $10 upgrade to the PS5 version is undoubtedly worth it. Whether it is as good as God of War: Ragnarok Valhalla expansion, remains subjective. While it lacks the story elements of the latter, No Return makes up for it by having a large selection of playstyles. Even Mel and Manny can be selected but why Naughty Dog skipped Owen from this roster, remains a mystery.

My only complaint as far as this mode goes is how some characters seem overpowered to play with. For instance, characters like Lev feel can be a bit challenging due to the stealthy playstyle and the ones like Joel, Abby, and Ellie are seemingly a bit overpowered due to their versatile playstyle. Since there is no PvP mode here, I guess it’s all good.

Teardrops on My Guitar

Guitar play in the PS4 original present of the best moments I had in the entire game. Now like the lost levels, there is a dedicated ‘Free Guitar play’ mode where you can play a guitar as Ellie. Joel and Gustavo himself. It also features other instruments like banjo, bass, and electric guitars. You also have the liberty to choose the background scenes. While I love it, it lacks the in-game song compositions like Joel’s rendition of Future Days and Ellie’s Take On Me. It would have been great if they could implement guided mode for the free-guitar play.

Lastly, let’s talk about the visuals. The remastered edition offers a choice between a 4K fidelity mode and a 1440p performance mode, ensuring that players can tailor their experience based on their preferences and display capabilities. Both modes deliver a level of visual fidelity and smooth performance that elevates the overall gaming experience. But the best part is the inclusion of VRR. Thanks to VRR, you can run the fidelity mode at a native 4K resolution with 40 fps which looks and plays way better than the default one. Performance mode greatly benefits from VRR’s unlocked frame rate as well. However, there is no 120 fps 1080p mode like the Uncharted port but in the light of unlocked frame rate, it is not a big deal. Overall, as expected the optimization is top-notch on PS5 with great visuals and stable frame rates at all times.

It also makes great use of the dual sense haptics and the 3D audio. Be it the tension of pulling back on the blow, gliding through the treacherous floodings of Seattle, or stalking your prey in the grass, Dual Sense haptics do a great job of increasing that unprecedented level of immersion. However, the visual upgrade besides the unlocked framerate mode and resolution can be a bit difficult to spot. While some areas like the forests do benefit from added environmental effects, most maps look largely the same as they did on the original PS4 version.

Real Talk

The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered on PS5 is a definitive package of its PS4 original, thanks to the notable inclusion of Lost Levels, No Return, and a new in-game commentary which makes the campaign worth revisiting even after beating it. The rogue-like No Return expansion alone is worth the upgrade fee -thanks to its changing environmental effects, enhanced enemy AI, and mods that make each encounter memorable. In terms of visuals, the new fidelity mode and VRR support are worthy of inclusion. However, the visual difference in terms of assets and foliage is barely noticeable. Overall, this definitive package is an easy recommendation for old veterans and newcomers.

Final Rating: 90/100

The Last Of Us Part II Remastered (PS5)

The Last Of Us Part II Remastered (PS5)
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The Last Of Us Part II Remastered will be released on PlayStation 5 on 19th Jan 2023. A planned PC port is in the works and will be released in 2024. It is a direct sequel to The Last of Us Part I which has been adapted into a critically acclaimed television series with its second season slated for a 2025 release window.
The Last Of Us Part II Remastered will be released on PlayStation 5 on 19th Jan 2023. A planned PC port is in the works and will be released in 2024. It is a direct sequel to The Last of Us Part I which has been adapted into a critically acclaimed television series with its second season slated for a 2025 release window.

The Good

  • No Return Roguelike mode with environmental and enemy modifers
  • Enhanced Enemy and Companion AI
  • Lost Levels feature additional content.
  • In game Director Commentary
  • Fidelity Mode and VRR Support
  • Improved Loading Times
  • More Character and Weapon Skins to Unlock
  • Dual Sense Haptics and 3D audio design
  • Enchanced Environmental Effects

The Bad

  • The Free Guitar Play mode does not feature any in-game soundtrack's compositions
  • Buffed and Nerfed Playstyles in No Return
  • Lost Levels are short in length.
  • Same Visuals as PS4 Version with minor upgrades
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