[REVIEW] The Last of Us Part 1 – The Best of Us

[UPDATE] People have been pointing out that Ellie’s YOLO “stealth” behavior not being addressed by Naughty Dog should be considered a boo-boo. Therefore, The Last of Us Part 1 is not perfect and shouldn’t get a 10/10. So to give in to your demands, I’ve adjusted the final score to reflect that criticism. You’re welcome.

Truth be told, I had to think long and hard about reviewing The Last of Us Part 1. Judging this remake will always lead to comments and criticism. And before I get to my conclusion I want to emphasize the following; you all probably have valid arguments to disagree with me. And believe me, I know ’em. Especially the price tag and whether the remake is useful raises question marks. And again, I get it. But that doesn’t change the fact that The Last of Us Part 1 is a benchmark for perfection. A game that – based on what it is – deserves all the praise in the world.

In that respect, The Last of Us Part 1 is somewhat comparable to that brilliant movie you once bought on VHS. And on DVD. And Bluray, too. The movie remained the same, but the improved image resolution made you spend your moolah on it again. Pulp Fiction, in my case. I’m sure I own that flick at least thrice. Did I get forced to buy it three times? Was I held at gunpoint? Not at all. And yet there are plenty of people – like me – who do so willingly. And you don’t really hear anyone really moan about that. But with The Last of Us Part 1, everyone loses their shit, mostly because of that hefty price tag.

And yes, $80 is a lot of money for a game that has already been released twice before. I can’t deny that. But those who choose to invest in The Last of Us Part 1 do so because they have not yet played the original. Or they do so because they are aware of the top quality. Because it is no secret that The Last of Us Part 1 is one of the best story-driven games ever made. As much as we may disagree on my final score, I think we can agree on that.

There are very few narrative games that have managed to get so much emotion out of me. Literally everyone who has played The Last of Us knows its gut-wrenching prologue. That prologue that is so incredibly well put together that you end up with a lump in your throat. Some of you might even feel the need to look away. Those same players also know that dialogues are simply of a completely different, above-average level. The Last of Us was just perfection and it is now again. And because of the power of the PlayStation 5, it now manages to make a huge leap forward on a visual level.

For many, on the other hand, a mere visual upgrade will not justify the purchase. Paying $80 for better graphics is a hard sell. I really get that. But I’d be lying if I say the improved graphics don’t add that extra bit of magic to the game. Sure, The Last of Us looked fine on the PS3 for its time and the same goes for the PS4 remaster. But this… this is really next-level shit. This elevates The Last of Us Part 1 to such a high production value that I really wondered why HBO didn’t just opt for CGI. That famous scene with Joel and Sarah… jeez, Naughty Dog. Marrow and bone. That already felt like a kick in the feels the last time I played TLOU, but due to the unparalleled quality of the graphics, that same kick is now delivered with steel-tipped boots.

It is therefore somewhat regrettable that the gameplay itself has not made the same leap. Not that it was originally bad and there are really some refinements and improvements in the controls, but I’ve always had my doubts about some things. You know, those fringe things like “why do I have to be super sneaky and stay out of sight while Ellie runs through the level like a headless chicken?” As soon as I walk a little too fast, I’m bombarded with Runners, Stalker, and Clickers. But this broad runs from cover to cover like it’s nothing while I’m being slaughtered because I slipped a fart. Those are the things I wish Naughty Dog had done something about. And yes, that can come across as nitpicking. But when a game is otherwise nearly spotless, all that’s left is nitpicking.

The thing is, If you have already formed your opinion on The Last of Us Part 1, this review will not change your mind. The people who say from the outset that they won’t spend $80 on a game they’ve already bought twice before aren’t going to reconsider that because of a review, no matter how positive it is. And that’s fine. If you are one of those people, I agree with you. After all, you’re not missing anything. It’s not like The Last of Us Part 1 is going to tell you anything new. But I have to judge The Last of Us Part 1 by what it is. And when push comes to shove, I can only conclude that The Last of Us Part 1 is best in class. Even though Naughty Dog has already graduated from that class twice.

So, is The Last of Us Part 1 worth buying? That remains a difficult question to answer. I mean, $80 is a lot of money for a game that has already been released twice. And the question remains whether remaking was unnecessary or not. But if you want to judge the game purely on its quality and compare it with other AAA games that carried the same price tag, The Last of Us Part 1 can easily compete. On the other hand, spending €80 on a game that does nothing more for you than show you nicer graphics… well. Then it is indeed a hard sell.

The Immune
The visual fidelity is off the charts
Even if it's a familiar story, it still hits you straight in the feels
Controls have been improved and refined, even if its only slightly
The Last of Us was and still is a benchmark title for story-driven games
The infected
$80 is a lot for a game that you might already be familiar with
Ellie can still go gung-ho while you get torn to pieces if you as much as squeeze out a silent fart