Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Naughty Dog
Let me get this right out of the way. I won’t be quite as upbeat about this PS5 remaster as I was for the original The Last of Us Part II PS4 release in 2020 (you can read our review for that here). It’s not to say The Last of Us Part II Remastered is a bad remaster — it’s more that despite releasing on PS4 at the tail end of the console’s cycle we were provided with a PS5 compatible update which improved the performance and visuals of the game in a very impressive way.
This patch was released in mid-2021 which helped with performance and the ability to toggle between 30 and 60 FPS modes, and not every dev was doing this at the time, so it was a welcome update. Again, I want to stress, this is not me being negative about The Last of Us Part II Remastered as it’s also very visually impressive but I don’t feel Part II needed it as much as Part I did.
Naughty Dog put a lot of time and care into their new engine, so on the flip side, as a music creator in my own right, I tend to want to revisit content I’ve done in the past once I have evolved my skills so I can understand and respect it. It’s a tough middle ground on how I am looking at this release.
Just to provide for an accurate assessment I went back to download the PS4 version release to try and compare the gameplay and there is a vast number of improvements you may not catch when simply playing Part II Remastered. This is a game you get easily immersed in, so the enhanced visuals I appreciated initially, but then not think about it most of the time.
The thing is, I didn’t appreciate the changes until I compared the two versions — which I don’t expect most players to do. I felt it was important to spend some time in the previous release since when viewing the initial The Last of Us Part II Remastered trailers I didn’t see much of a difference. This of course speaks to how good the original PS4 and patched release looks and plays. Switching between the two, the PS5 remastered character models and environments are much crisper and the lighting when outside is sublime. Outside of the visual and performance improvements like native 4K resolution in fidelity mode, there is a new mode called “No Return”.
No Return is an online Roguelike survival mode where you try to last through waves of humans and more in various locations from the game. In most cases, I walk the other way with Roguelikes, but being able to play as other characters from the game is a nice addition and changing up the enemies and locations is a good refreshing way to revisit the game for hardcore fans of the series.
There is also a mode called “Lost Levels”, which is a mode for hardcore fans that will explore story points in the game that were either cut or shortened. You can play these levels to a degree with some audio commentary, which is a unique way of having a sort of deleted scenes element to the game. Most of the levels were not completed and give a Beta or Alpha feel, but again, it’s more of a way for Naughty Dog to share more content with the fans who want to see and hear as much as they can.
I have a good friend that is one of those fans and know how much he will enjoy these components as it’s a great reason to revisit the game, especially knowing the standalone The Last of Us Online multiplayer title is no longer coming. One other mode/feature that was added is the Guitar Free Play option. You can now try to play any song you want with Ellie’s guitar like many have mastered even with the limited options in the original release. Again, a nice unique addition but not for everyone.
The last thing that always wins me over with a proper remaster is the ability to bring your old save over from the PS4 version. This is as simple as it should be and helped me enjoy my time as I was able to immediately start a New Game Plus session, which I didn’t get very far in on the PS4. Overall, The Last of Us Part II Remastered is a solid remaster release for the PS5, but not one we truly needed in the relative short time since Part II was first released. Part I Remastered made so much sense and enough time went by to see the evolution of the visuals. Naughty Dog did a knock-out job the first time and simply wanted to perfect it, so I would say they were successful. [Eds. Note: Owners of the PS4 version of The Last of Us Part II can upgrade to the PS5 The Last of Us Part II Remastered for $10]
Note: Sony Interactive Entertainment provided us with a The Last of Us Part II Remastered PS5 code for review purposes.