One of the most renowned games of all time has been perfected. If you have the right specs, that is. Find out in our The Last of Us Part 1 Review.
The Last of Us Part 1 on PC is the new definitive way to experience the most emotional story told in a video game. In our The Last of Us Part 1 Review for PC, we'll take a look at just why that is.
#TheLastofUs Part I is now available on PC! To new players and seasoned survivors alike, thank you for your support and enthusiasm.
A special message from Naughty Dog's Vice President, Christian Gyrling: https://t.co/8jkCPeRTiB
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) March 28, 2023
While The Last of Us (PlayStation 3) is revered as one of the greatest games ever, however, the PC port has come under heavy fire. There are many reports of crashes, poor performance, and the like. While that may be the noise around this game at the moment, none of those issues were present in my playthrough of the game, and, thus, won't be reflected in the review. The only preface needed for performance on the reviewer's part is that I updated my drivers as suggested and ensured my specs were appropriate to run the game. I ran it on almost all max graphical and textural settings without a single hitch or performance issue.
The recommended specs per performance type are listed below.
There is much to discuss with this game, so let's start with the real meat of it all. The part that gets your fingers shaky on the keyboard and hand twitchy on the mouse. I first contemplated playing with a PS4 or even PS3 controller but decided that because of the gameplay category of the review, I wanted to experience it with the new control method that could be utilized for the first time in this game. Let me tell you now, I feel like an idiot for even considering using a controller. I am a console gamer through and through. From Nintendo Entertainment System all the way up through the Xbox Series X, consoles is my primary platform for gaming. Now you may ask, “why would you review a PC port if you're a console player?” Because experiencing new games isn't about sticking to what you know. Limiting your range of experience when it comes to gaming in any way is the absolutely perfect way to miss out on some of the best gaming experiences possible.
So, how did this console gamer do on ol' MnK? I may not have flawless aim, but this was the most satisfying shooting I've ever experienced in a game. Peeking out from cover and quickly hovering that circular reticle over an enemy's head just to nail a headshot that gives you the red lines to let you know you landed the kill is worthy of celebration every time. That satisfying feeling never gets old. I implore any player that wants to experience the game to use the mouse and keyboard to feel just as badass as Joel and Ellie present themselves to be. It only took a handful of weapon and item switches for me to get the hang of using the 2 and 3 keys for weapon switching and the scroll wheel for item switching. For the rest of the 90% of the game, it had already become muscle memory to me.
The core gameplay itself is simple but very rewarding, as we all know. What I think some people fail to do, is acknowledge that the gameplay of The Last of Us really isn't anything special in just its design. It is satisfying, sure. Shooting feels good, and the stealth option is exciting, but it's nothing original. So why, then, do we praise this as such a fantastic video game? It's because of continuity. The story and gameplay are directly tied together. The gameplay doesn't just serve as an interactive filler between story beats; it continues the story where the beautifully designed cutscenes leave off. Joel and Ellie's dialogue, environmental storytelling, and, most importantly, the dialogue. The fact that the main characters, NPCs, and main protagonists all have original specific (scripted) and non-specific (random) dialogue during stealth sections, action sequences, and boss fights immerses the player so well, which is an important piece of suspense-driven games.
Always feeling like you're on the edge of running out of ammo, always making sure you pick up every possible supply, weapon part, or supplement you can, and enemies that can kill you in one hit are all that keep the player on the edge of their seat. As soon as you attempt to relax and “roam about the cabin” in whatever location you're exploring is when you'll get caught off guard and killed by a hidden infected. Or at least that's what it feels like. “Horror” wouldn't really be the right category to place this game in, so “suspense” is likely the best word to sum it up. Even having played through the game before, years have passed and I've forgotten about certain encounters and enemies, making this playthrough similarly suspenseful to my first-ever run of the game.
The new content added for the remake version is all extremely exciting to play/see. With the unlockable character models, skins for Ellie, Joel, and their weapons, and gameplay modes like unlimited ammo or mirrored mode, there is just so much extra added to the package that turns it into a repayable game rather than a one-time storytelling experience. If you don't feel nostalgic after unlocking the promotional art from the original game after beating the remake version, the only possible answer could be that you never played the original. Giving the players something to earn really helps to value of this version as a whole.
The fact that many readers scrolled straight to this section to read the feedback on a story that is still exactly what it was ten years ago shows just how legendary the story really is. Many of you may not know exactly who you should be thanking for this masterpiece, so let me be the one to fill you in. Neil Druckmann is the mind behind the stories of both games in “The Last of Us” and the Uncharted series. If that doesn't tell you just how great this guy is, you don't need to bother consuming media anymore. You're already lost. While some argue that Druckmann lost track of the medium he was using, that being video games, by the time The Last of Us Part II came around, it doesn't change the fact that he has mastered modern storytelling and deserves insane credit and applause for what he's created in the last decade, even the last two decades.
Looking back at The Last of Us versus The Last of Us Part II, we can see now what it was about the characters that really made it an adventure worth falling in love with, and may even make some of you think even higher about the quality of the first game. The Last of Us II lost its sense of consistency, trying to create something less simple, and less straightforward. Having you play two opposing sides of life or death rivalry is an interesting idea, but one that ostracizes your audience for half of the game. People didn't really resonate with the idea of forgiving Abby after learning her backstory. For those of her who did, playing as Ellie still would've made them not resonate with the character, they're playing as. Ellie slaughters countless presumably innocent people to get to Abby, only to spare her life at the end of the game in the final fight. By trying to teach a lesson about the endless cycle of violence, Druckmann and Naughty Dog forgot they were making a video game in which, as we commended in the gameplay section, is supposed to hold continuity in the story.
Now, let's talk about all the ways Druckmann and Naughty Dog actually used to have a masterful grasp on this concept. The Last of Us Part I frames Joel, not as a selfless hero trying to save his daughter or make up for losing her, but actually frames him as quite the opposite. He is a selfish anti-hero worthy of heavy criticism and even hate. Even for the many who love him, if you were to come across him in the apocalypse, he wouldn't love you back. He would put a bullet between anybody's eyes to ensure the safety of a single person he believes is valuable and worth being alive. A single human can't be all righteous and get to decide who lives and who dies, but Joel sees it that way. While you may think he demonstrates this by killing everybody in his way and deeming their lives unworthy, I'd like to set another perspective for you. Rather than his cycle of taking life that persists throughout the game, what about the singular time when he decides there's a life that nobody is allowed to take? When he kills the brain surgeon that may be the world's only hope at saving the world, that's when he really shows just how self-righteous he really is. Ellie gets to live, and everybody else gets to die because Joel says so.
The game's ending is one of the most emotional, meaningful, and just completely human scenes in any video game. When Ellie tells Joel to swear to her that what he said about the Fireflies is true, she's really asking a different question. She's asking Joel to tell her the truth. She already knows the answer to what she really says. She's offering a challenge to him, a final chance to save their relationship, and he can't bring himself to tell the truth. If Ellie's character up to that point doesn't make you believe she caught on so fast, then surely the final track played in the game, “The Path (A New Beginning)” tells you just how important that question was. To make a cliffhanger ending that feels fulfilling is maybe the most difficult thing a writer can do, but it felt like the solid end of that entire piece of their story, while still leaving the question of “what happened next” wide open.
Left Behind is the singular DLC expansion to “The Last of Us” and is included as part of the “The Last of Us Part I”. Until now, I had never experienced this part of the package. While I'm glad I finally got to play it, I'm very disappointed with what it was. During the part of the DLC that fills in the Wintertime gap of Joel being unconscious, it was basically business as usual, but a little slower and slightly less fun. During the backstory section, where Ellie and her best friend Riley play minigames with each other and walk around, I was extremely bored. The little introduction of extra minigames was a cute idea, but that kind of inclusion belongs in a far lesser game. The Last of Us is far too polished to be dumbed down into a minigame idea sampler. It isn't even worth the $10 price mark of its release on the PlayStation 3.
The thing that made The Last of Us so special was watching the bond between Joel and Ellie grow through their experiences and as time progressed. When Left Behind attempted to make me feel the same way about Ellie and her best friend, Riley, I absolutely did not. Sadly, I did not care about Riley or the preexisting friendship they had. In fact it was so uninteresting that I had to look up if Neil Druckmann also wrote that part of the game, because that wasn't the impression I'd gotten. The only thing it showed is that Druckmann can not write interactions between younger people exclusively. Ellie's maturity in mentality, mixed with her immature hot-headedness is what people love about her. Demeaning her into a cheesy high school movie girl getting caught in back-and-forth drama with her best friend is so disrespectful to the well-designed character.
The saving grace here is that during the sections of gameplay filling in the time period when Joel is injured in the Winter actually has a bit of interesting content. Seeing Ellie surviving all on her own is something players wanted to see more of after the Winter section in the main game. Even along with that, the mall has a bit of its own lore, with notes and tape recorders able to be found that tell the story of a military squad early in the outbreak that crashed into the mall and got picked off one by one, some of them even turning on each other. It may not even be close to the story we wanted, but at least something is interesting included in it.
I was able to set almost every graphical and textural setting to High, resulting in one of the most beautiful games I've ever played through. The environment was always noteworthy as an amazing evolution of the world decades after the collapse of society. Now not only are they designed well, but they also look spectacular. The voice actors, writers, and designers didn't have to come back to work on this remake, as their job was already complete, so the visual designers that had to rebuild the visuals of this game for a second time deserve an insane amount of credit. Not only are the visual options diverse enough to let you run the game at your capacity, but preferential options like motion blur and film grain are all completely adjustable. The biggest feature here is, of course, the unlocked FPS limitation allowing the game to run smooth as butter on systems that can handle it. (Which included my middle-of-the-road graphics card and pretty good processor).
There are few games that I think succeed in doing more than being remembered as the background of the game. The audio design in the last of Us, from the dialogue, to the sounds of the infected, to the crunching of leaves or shifting of snow beneath characters' feet, makes the world feel so alive. Ironic for a game all about the death of the world as we know it, huh? The player is contently tuned into audio cues and character speech, which put such a high importance on audio design, and it was absolutely lived up to.
I mean, what's left to say? One of the greatest of all time. The tracks are so good that they're reused with certain edits, and players actually commend that, rather than putting it down as laziness. There is so much woe in the soundtrack, with just the slightest glimmers of hope placed throughout to remind you that there is no stopping. It's the addition of dark tones to the world and characters that make the music so influential on the experience. Society is dying and hanging on, not recovering and moving forward, and the tracks that follow you through each chapter, mostly in cutscenes, absolutely won't let you forget that.
The Last of Us Part 1 Review (PC) – 9.5/10
The original The Last of Us is an absolute 10/10 game, but with the inclusion of the DLC as part of the full package, The Last of Us Part I falls just short of perfection with a disappointing inclusion. What puts it at a 9.5 rather than a 9 are the inclusions it got right in the forms of bonus unlockable content. Here you have one of the best gaming experiences you could possibly ask for, especially on PC. The dramatic tones of The Last of Us are increased by its new beautiful coat of paint and more satisfying gameplay controls. Now pardon me while I go play through it again on Grounded+.