Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for The Last Of Us and The Last Of Us Part II.
What on earth is going on with these far-too-soon remakes? Not only are we getting the visually disappointing Mass Effect: Legendary Edition later this year, but now the 2013 PlayStation 3 title The Last Of Us is apparently being remade as well. What a stupid idea that is. Evidently Sony, a company celebrated across the PlayStation 4’s lifespan for its great crop of exclusive titles, is creatively bankrupt, running out of ideas and being forced to go back to previously-successful titles desperately looking for games to remake or to produce unnecessary sequels to.
The Last Of Us Part II was released last year, and whatever you may think of its merits there can be no denying it was a controversial title. Rather than expanding the franchise or taking it in a new direction, Sony and developer Naughty Dog opted to revisit the same characters – and tacked on a story that didn’t go down well with many fans. Given the sequel’s controversial reception, I wouldn’t have expected that a return to the world of The Last Of Us would have been on the agenda so soon, but there you go.
Forget about the sequel. The original The Last Of Us is one of the best narrative games I’ve played in a very long time, such that I was even able to see past its horror elements – a genre I don’t usually enjoy. The characters were wonderful, the story pitch-perfect, and the setting unique. Eight years on from its original release, it’s still a fantastic game.
Visually, the game looks great. Its levels are tense and atmospheric, and I once described the game’s world as “hauntingly beautiful,” a description I stand by. By 2013, Naughty Dog and other developers were truly able to take advantage of the PlayStation 3’s powerful hardware, and they created a game that looks just amazing.
So why does it need to be remade?
The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. As with the Mass Effect trilogy, The Last Of Us is just too recent to see any significant changes or improvements, either visually or in terms of gameplay. Remastering or remaking the game – which has already been done once, shortly after the PlayStation 4 launched – is simply a cheap way for Sony to make money.
Rather than investing time and money in developing a new game, Sony sees a remake of The Last Of Us as a cash cow; a cheap way to reuse and recycle content it already owns into a “new” package that fans will lap up to play on their new consoles. That is, if anyone has been lucky enough to find one of the approximately eight consoles Sony manufactured in time for last year’s launch.
To be totally fair, this applies to Microsoft’s Xbox Series X as well. But the PlayStation 5 launched too soon with not enough stock available, and with no plan in place to keep consoles out of the hands of scalpers and touts. The result has been total unavailability of consoles except to players who are willing to pay double the official price – or more – on sites like eBay. This incredibly anti-consumer move was blamed on the pandemic – as everything is these days – but my response to that is simple: if you didn’t have enough supply to fulfil consumer demand in the run-up to launch, you could have simply delayed the damn launch.
I’m sick to the back teeth of companies across the entertainment industry using the pandemic as an excuse for everything. There’s a worldwide shortage of semiconductors, silicon, and other key components in computer chips and other electronics. This is having an effect on PC components, games consoles, phones, and even cars. The smart, consumer-friendly thing for Sony to have done last year would have been to institute a six-month delay, launching the console later this year when more units had been manufactured. As it is, PlayStation 5s are sold out everywhere, a situation unlikely to change any time soon. But we’ve drifted off-topic.
With so few games on PlayStation 5 right now, and Microsoft’s Game Pass service seemingly coming from nowhere and catching them off-guard, Sony is scrounging around looking for anything to shove on the new console to make it appear to be a worthwhile purchase for players. PlayStation 5 isn’t close to being worthwhile yet, by the way, so if you haven’t been able to find one, don’t worry. You aren’t missing out on much!
PlayStation 5, like its predecessor console, has serious issues with backwards compatibility. “Most” PlayStation 4 games work on the new system, according to Sony, but older titles don’t. So perhaps they see that as an excuse to give a relatively recent, good-looking game like The Last Of Us a facelift? Except, of course, as I mentioned above there’s already a PlayStation 4 version of the game which should be compatible with the PlayStation 5, so even that excuse – poor though it was, as a lack of proper backwards compatibility is Sony’s own fault – doesn’t hold water.
This is a naked attempt to squeeze more money out of a successful project, and to avoid taking the risks associated with creating something new. If it hadn’t already been done, making this the game’s second remake, I guess it would have slipped under the radar. But the absolutely ridiculous, kind of pathetic situation of remaking the same game twice in less than seven years just makes it laughably obvious.
Instead of selling a copy of The Last Of Us on PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 for less than £10 (the PlayStation 4 version is £7.99 on the PlayStation Store at time of writing) Sony clearly plans to push this “remake” as a big deal and slap a hefty price tag on it – perhaps they’ll even try to get away with making it a full-price title. But what would fans get for that money? How can you make a decent-looking game from only eight years ago look substantially better? Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is trying to accomplish that same task, and when I look at that game’s own pre-release marketing material, I can’t even tell which screenshot is from which version. They look so similar it’s not even a joke.
The Last Of Us is in the same boat as the Mass Effect trilogy, and the fact that it had a PlayStation 4 remaster already actually makes it even worse. I thought this was a joke when I first saw the reports, but apparently this is true. Sony actually plans to remake an eight-year-old game for the second time and sell it as new. I’m glad I don’t own a PlayStation 5 if this is what we can expect from the company this generation.
No matter what they decide to officially title it, I hope we can all agree here and now to only ever refer to this abomination as The Last Of Us Remastered Remastered – so as to emphasise what a stupid idea this truly is.
The Last Of Us is out now for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, with the PlayStation 4 version able to be played on PlayStation 5. The Last Of Us and The Last Of Us Part II are the copyright of Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.