Still one of the best video games of the last decade, but there is more here for new players than veterans of the series.
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The first time I played THE LAST OF US, my brother invited me over to his house and sat me down in front of his PlayStation 3 and put the controller in my hand.
"Play as long as you like, you're going to love this"
It was an experience I'll never forget, those opening minutes of the third person action game were quiet, tense and catapulted me up into much bigger world, with an emotional hit that's been credited with the "dadification" of video games.
Playing THE LAST OF US PART 1, the PlayStation 5 remake of the original game makes me wish this was the very first time I was playing the series, taking my first steps into post apocalyptic cordyceps infected world.
If this game came out for the very first time in 2022, it'd easily make everyone's game of year lists it'd be collecting high marks everywhere, it's a thoroughly excellent game with some unforgettable storytelling and gripping gameplay.
But this game is for better and worse the ultimate version of that 2013 title, it's also been remade for the PlayStation 4 before this, a version which holds up really well and is even included with every PlayStation 5 as part of the PlayStation Plus collection.
Which means if you've experienced Joel and Ellie's first story, you've played this excellent game.
A visual treat
The world looks stunning, those decaying and overgrown streets have never looked better and the visual language used in the game has been dramatically improved, you'll always be guided subtly by the environments where to go next.
I remember often finding myself wandering through spaces unsure where to go next when playing the original, but that's simply not the case now, everything is signposted nicely.
The improvements in visuals are impressive, I found myself switching back and forth between the performance (60 frames per second, with dynamically scaled resolution up to 4K) and fidelity (4K but targeted 30 frames per second) modes pretty frequently, but the slight visual improvements of the fidelity mode weren't worth dropping back to 30FPS.
Those amazing character performances by the actors feel so very real now, especially in those intensely emotional moments.
It's a really faithful representation of the world, so if you haven't fired up the original game in a long time you might have trouble picking exactly what's changed, with the big exception being the changes to the design of some supporting cast like Tess and Bill.
Joel and Ellie look the same as you'd have in your minds eye, but it's almost if they've entirely recast some of the supporting actors, but despite this it won't take you long to get used to the new looks.
A masterclass in accessibility
For me the absolute killer feature of this new version is the accessibility customisation options, you've got hundreds of different configurations to choose from adjusting audio mixes, using the Dual Sense controller to vibrate with dialog, changing to a high contrast visual style or a simple lock on to make the shooting easier and much much more.
For people with any physical limitations or cognitive processing issues, this level of customisation makes a mechanically and physically complex game a possibility for them to play and honestly that might just be the most compelling argument for this version.
I play games pretty differently to most people, I frequently use the Remote Play feature of my PS5 to stream to a phone with an attached DualShock controller and by using these built in accessibility features I can comfortable compensate for the lag of streaming video and controls over my local network.
It's not how most people play, and I know purists who balk at dropped frames might shudder at the thought, but life means that's often the best way for me to jump in even if it means using a small 1080p screen.
This game and THE LAST OF US PART II before it really set the benchmark of what in game accessibility should be and these features will no doubt be useful for all sorts of players.
This is a tricky game to review because the gulf between versions isn't as broad as say the remake of Ratchet & Clank which was unplayable on modern devices until the PlayStation 4 remaster.
That's simply not the case for THE LAST OF US, you can comfortably enjoy the PlayStation 4 remaster on your PS5 if you want that nostalgic hit.
But for new players to the series, perhaps off the back of watching the upcoming HBO television adaptation of the games, it's thoroughly modern remake which updates a lot of the systems based on current gameplay design so it plays fantastically, looks stunning and hits you like a truck.
It's still one of the best games made in the last ten years, but that's as true now as it was back in 2013.
A copy of THE LAST OF US PART 1 was provided to SIFTER for the purpose of this review. All screenshots were captured using the performance visual setting.