The Last of Us Part 1 review: Leave a good-looking corpse
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The question of whether a game is worth the money it costs to play is always a part of reviewing it. Each game’s artistic merits and fun factor are most important, probably because they’re the easiest to talk about in general terms. Every gamer and their wallet are different, after all. But the question of whether a game is worth its price tag (and the price tags are getting bigger) sometimes requires more focus. One such case? The Last of Us Part 1.
Gamers have questioned the value of this game since before it was officially revealed. After all, The Last of Us only debuted nine years ago, and it’s already been re-released in a “better” form once before. While it remains one of the most critically lauded games ever made, a creeping sense of whether another release was really necessary has colored its launch – especially since it launched with a $70 sticker price.
So let’s tackle the Clicker in the room, shall we? While, again, every gamer’s needs and disposable income are different, I can break down what you’re getting for the price. I can also identify which groups of gamers are most likely to benefit from this new, glowed-up The Last of Us.
Those who need accessibility
Let me be blunt: If you need accessibility features, then you should absolutely buy The Last of Us Part 1. The suite of features on offer is comprehensive. If you wanted to play this game back when it launched in 2013 but couldn’t, then Naughty Dog have your back this time.
The accessibility features this time include (but are not limited to):
- Customizable and alternate control schemes
- Full HUD customization
- Navigation options for blind or low-vision players
- Text-to-speech options and subtitles
- Combat tweaking to avoid certain scenarios
- Hints and difficulty adjustments
The accessibility features are worth the price of admission. I’m not an expert on accessibility, by any means — and I’m certain there’s even more the devs could do to improve the experience — but the original Last of Us didn’t have most of these options. For the users who need them, these will likely go a long way towards allowing you to enjoy The Last of Us Part 1.
Whichever of these options gamers need, whether it be one or all, they are worth having, for this game and as many others as possible. For those who are lucky enough not to need these options, the urgency with which I make this recommendation is not for you.
The new players
The other category of player that might be best suited to Part 1 are those who have not yet played The Last of Us. Since the game is set to launch on PC at some point, there will likely be a few gamers who still have yet to play it. Neil Druckmann said in an interview that Part 1 is the “definitive way to play” the game. He’s not wrong. What few improvements there are have made the game both easier to get into and more enjoyable to look at.
To start with the obvious first: The Last of Us Part 1 is beautiful. While the character models are more tweaked than they really altered (with some exceptions), the environmental lighting and presentation is a real upgrade on the remastered PS4 version. The Last of Us isn’t exactly a colorful game, but the upgrades definitely make it more aesthetically pleasing.
There are some slight gameplay improvements. For example, you can now read collectible notes as soon as you find them, without having to get them out of Joel’s backpack, which is a feature from the sequel. Both enemy and friendly AI is better, or is at least easier to read. All of these things will lower the barrier for entry to those players who are jumping into it for the first time.
The devoted fans
I think this game really has one particular target audience, and that’s the group of fans who love The Last of Us. The original game is a favorite with no small amount of gamers, and everything I’ve mentioned above will all be pros to those gamers.
I’m not judging: I purchased Bayonetta four times, across four different platforms, and I wasn’t even getting a graphical upgrade. I just loved the game that much and wanted as many versions of it as I could get. So if you love The Last of Us, I think it’ll be worth your money and time to play it again in this beautified form.
If you’re not, then I think you already know you’re not going to buy this game. Aside from some technical and cosmetic perks, you’re not getting anything with this game you don’t already have. That’s why I’ve refrained from referring to the story or gameplay in this review. It hasn’t changed in a major way. If you want to read all the stuff that’s great about it, go read Dean’s review from nine years ago.
There’s nothing wrong with paying a high price to gild the lily – but there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to do so, either. I think The Last of Us Part 1 will make a great addition to the casual TLOU fan’s library when it inevitably goes on sale, and maybe the PC players when it launches on that platform as well.
The Last of Us Part 1 is currently available for PlayStation 5 for $70, with a PC launch planned for the future. Sony provided GamesBeat with a code for the purposes of this review.
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