Thursday, 14 May 2015

Generation Game: The Last of Us (PS3, 2013) vs The Last of Us Remastered (PS4, 2014)

Welcome to a new feature that will focus on games. And in particular, releases on two Blu-ray compatible consoles, the Sony PlayStation 3 and the direct successor, the PlayStation 4. The first one is a good one, it's Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic action survival game, The Last of Us.

When Sony announced The Last of Us at the end of 2011. It came as a shock to many, myself included, that the developer behind it was Naughty Dog, creators of Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter and more recently Uncharted. The Last of Us is a drastic departure in tone and setting, and no one should have worried because it's a fantastic game.

The Last of Us got many plaudits, won over 200 game of the year awards and sold over 7 million copies on PS3 from release. Naturally, with it releasing just months before the PS4 arrived, speculation was rife about a PS4 version being on the horizon. Well, it did exist and was released a year after the original release. It was called The Last of Us Remastered, and was that, a remaster, an improved version of an already great game. So, the question is, what has changed and how much was improved?

Graphics wise, Remastered doubles the resolution of the original game from 720p to full 1080p. That's a nice difference, and there's also higher resolution textures as well as other bells and whistles that make a nicer, sharper, cleaner image. It also replaces the in-game character models with the higher quality, more detailed, cutscene variants.

The biggest difference however is the framerate. The PS3 version often dropped below 30fps but the PS4 version runs at 60fps but it does also have drops below that, but they're not as severe. The PS4 game also offers a 30fps lock option which feels sluggish after playing in 60fps. However, the 30fps option does improve the game in minor ways graphically, such as improved shadow quality. Though personally, I'll take the 60fps anyway.

The framerate difference is apparent when playing. Because The Last of Us is a game where you have to make every bullet count, the higher framerate allows for more precision in your shots. Another thing that helps admittedly is the much improved DualShock 4 that the PS4 uses.Though I do believe it can be used also with the PS3 version, but I can't say that for certain. Remastered also takes advantage of the Share functionality that the PS4 offers by having a Photo Mode which allows you to take screenshots of the game and alter the camera, add filters etc to create some wonderful imagery using the game.

Gameplay wise, it's the same game, except for the framerate difference earlier. Remastered also has a faster initial load time, I say that since there's no load times during gameplay except for when you have died but those are rather short on both versions.This is down largely to the PS4's way of dealing with game installs. It installs the whole thing to the hard drive whether it's on Blu-ray or not.

The big difference aside from graphics and performance is content. The original game came with the main story, which as good as it gets in games as of now, as well as the Multiplayer mode, which is far better than it has any right to be. The only advice I can give for that if you do play it is DO NOT RUN. It'll make sense.

Content is where Remastered gets its biggest differentiator over the PS3 original. In multiplayer terms, you get the two paid map packs, Abandoned Territories and Reclaimed Territories included. There's also a free map pack, Treacherous Territories, for both PS3 and PS4 as well but that was released after Remastered was released so it's a separate download.

The big DLC difference is Left Behind. Left Behind is a separate, also it was recently made available standalone, piece of story content where you play as Ellie and it explores her relationship with Riley, her close friend who is mentioned in the main game. There is two timelines, one set before the game and one during. The prequel part is definitely the better part because of the character development that takes place.

There's also an even harder difficulty mode included with Remastered, and is a paid option on PS3, called Grounded mode. Grounded reduces the on-screen HUD and makes enemies do more damage and makes resources even more scarce than Survivor, the default hardest difficulty. It's a mode for the most hardcore, I haven't tried it... yet.

Remastered also includes an hour long documentary on the development of The Last of Us. It's interesting to look at how a game comes together as it explores the various components of game development. The documentary is also available elsewhere but I think it's a nice addition.

Well that's all there is to it. I should probably point out that there's a The Last of Us Game of the Year Edition, which is all of the Remastered content, except for Photo Mode, on PS3, making this whole comparison a bit worthless. Oh well, I thought it was worth doing anyway.

The Last of Us is a fantastic game on either PS3 or PS4 and you wouldn't regret it on PS3, even if the PS4 version is the better version. If you only have a PS3 and don't want to fork out for a PS4 just yet then go for it, unless you really have to play the best version of any game.