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    The Last Of Us Part II Remastered Review – The Best Gets Better

    Developed By: Naughty Dog

    Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment

    Platforms: PlayStation 5

    Reviewed On: PlayStation 5

    Review Code Provided By: Sony Interactive Entertainment Singapore

    The Last of Us Part II came out in June 2020 back when the pandemic shut almost everything down. There were initial leaks that caused quite a huge uproar due to the fanbase not liking certain story beats and certain characters putting a lot of doubt if it could recapture the magic of the original. It launched to critical acclaim (myself included) and cemented the series as one of the most high-quality videogame experiences that transcended the medium itself. With a new console generation well into its maturity, The Last of Us Part II Remastered aims to bring new fans into the series and bring new updates to existing fans.

    Thanks to the wonderful folks at PlayStation Asia, I got to play The Last of Us Part II Remastered early and immediately jumped back to experience both a familiar beloved experience as well as the new additions including the lost levels and the No Return rogue-like mode. I won’t be going too deep into the core game itself as I have previously written quite extensively in my review of the original release which remains unchanged but will talk a bit more about the new stuff coming with this remastered release.


    The Last of Us Part II is a continuation of the acclaimed first entry into the series which follows the protagonist Joel with Ellie by his side as they journey across the country. A simple smuggling job turns complicated as the stakes are raised when the embattled Fireflies faction needs Ellie to be transported to a medical facility after discovering she is immune from the deadly Cordyceps plague that has wiped out most of modern civilization.

    If TLOU Part I was about the journey and making hard choices, TLOU Part II builds upon it by showing the consequences of those hard choices. Very early on a very shocking event happens that just flips the expectations for those familiar with the first game and a very brutal tale of revenge unfolds with Ellie going on a rampage to avenge the loss of someone she cares about. There are new groups emerging to disrupt the world order and even new variants of the Cordyceps virus that you will have to contend with.

    One of the very first things I did when starting the remastered version was going through the main story again to see if it held up after all these years. After all, I played it the first time twice back-to-back due to how much I was floored by it. Even though I still remembered major story beats, there were other smaller details that slipped through that still evoked the same feelings the first time around and the story is just as effectively brutal and harrowing at times due to how unflinching it is. A part of me is excited to see how it will be translated into the live-action version on HBO but I know it is going to be just as devastating if not more.

    It was also a very welcome addition to have director commentary enabled for the full game to provide a nice behind-the-scenes look at parts of the game.

    Graphics, Performance and Sound Design

    This remastered version boasts two modes; Quality-focused with 4K resolution targeting 30fps and Performance at 1440p upscaled targeting 60fps. The image quality here is really quite astoundingly beautiful. The new graphical enhancements made what was already fantastic better. When it comes to performance however it was a slight let down personally. I played mostly in Performance mode but there are some areas, especially in later levels where the frame drops noticeably. During my playthrough, it didn’t feel like just slight dips but it was definitely more that it became distracting. I could be wrong but I felt something similar during the original release that affected later levels similarly. Hopefully, with some patches, it could be ironed out.

    The sound design in the original was great and it continues here with great voice acting, an emotional soundtrack and immaculate voice acting that really elevates the entire experience. There are a few new additions in the PS5 version with the full dual sense integration that brings haptics and adaptive triggers into the mix. They were good but not as immersive as other PS5 titles that have done better. All in all, it was a very solid remaster that improved upon the original graphically and with new PS5 features.

    Lost Levels & No Return

    One of the first new additions in TLOU Part II Remastered are the lost levels; levels that were intended to be a part of the full game but were cut. There are three in total with an introduction video by Neil Druckmann and players will be able to enable developer commentary as well that provides insight into the ideas that went into the lost levels and why they were cut from the full game. They are brief but I appreciated them for what they offered.

    No Return is the biggest addition to TLOU Part II Remastered and is a roguelike survival mode for players looking to take the excellent combat systems in the main game and test their mettle in a series of randomly generated levels with differing objectives. Starting with Ellie and Abby, by completing objectives players will be able to unlock more playable characters like Lev, Jesse, Manny and more. Each run will feel more challenging but players are also able to unlock recipes for weapons, gambits and dead drops for extra resources and rewards, and also mods that will give an advantage or disadvantage for the player in a particular level like long shots doing more damage or enemies dropping bombs on death. There are a few different objectives in those levels; Assault, where you have to take out waves of enemies; Hunted has you trying to survive until the timer runs out; and Holdout where you have to defend your ally before they get overwhelmed.

    I liked what I played of No Return but honestly, it isn’t a mode that stuck with me long. I like playing roguelikes but I feel the biggest hurdle for me to overcome in No Return is the fact that there are no permanent unlocks for characters. Each run is a fresh one and you will have to build up from scratch every single time so there is potential for frustration when your run is cut short. I know that there are difficulty options but even on moderate some levels felt unfair. Take Holdout for example where you are tasked to defend your ally against the enemy rush but the time you are given to set up your defensible position is so short it still ends up being chaotic. Also, the primary motivating factor for No Return is just to unlock more characters and more mods and is score-based which I don’t care much about. It’s a very solid mode which I’m sure will find its fanbase but it just wasn’t for me.

    What I Loved

    • Story – it stands up to the test of time and is still such a brutal unflinching look at the cycle of violence that feels endless. The quiet moments still feel very poignant and affecting and it really brought back similar memories of when I played it the first time.
    • Characters – Almost every character is performed to perfection and it’s hard not to love any of them even the supporting ones.
    • Graphics & Sound Design – Looks, sounds and plays really great. The new graphical enhancements took what was already stellar and made it better.

    What I Wished Was Better

    • Performance – I really wished it had a locked 60fps in Performance mode. I do hope there will be patches that improve upon this.
    • Lack of permanent progression in No Return – One of the things that brings me back to really great roguelikes is the slow mountain you climb to victory. I do understand it’s meant to be survival-based but it really did not motivate me to keep going knowing I had to start from scratch again every time.

    Final Thoughts

    I enjoyed my time with The Last of Us Part II Remastered immensely. It is one of the masterpieces of the last generation and for new players, well worth buying into. I am also glad that for existing players who own the original, there is just a small upgrade fee that is justified somewhat by the new additions. What I am more excited by is seeing how the HBO show is going to play out events from this game and what’s coming next from those really talented folks over at Naughty Dog.

    Final Score – 10/10

    Jashvir Sandhu
    Jashvir Sandhu
    Proud barbarian to her monk, Wondrous Peashooter to her Sunflower, Blue Yarny who will never let go of his Red Yarny, Loving husband of Cadet Cuddles. Also on PSN known as ZDKilljoy

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