I waited three long years to finish The Last Of Us Part II - the remaster was worth it
Opinion: An upgrade mistake tested my patience, but it paid off in the end...
There comes a point in any gamer's life when the window to actually play video games starts to shrink. Responsibilities, family, general life stuff takes over and the day-long sessions spent in front of a console become fragmented; 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there.
But there are some games where you are invested fully, no matter what other life things are going on, and want to spend every waking hour in that virtual environment. The Last Of Us Part II was one of those games.
Back in 2020, I was fully immersed in the story of Joel and Ellie (and Abby) and where it took me after the devastating reveal at the end of the first game. I spent many hours invested in the storyline, admiring the bold storytelling twists, until the fateful day I got myself a PlayStation 5.
Now, this is where you are thinking that this is an age-old story of upgrading to a next-gen console and leaving the previous gen behind. But that wasn't the case - I was an hour-ish from the end of the The Last Of Us Part II and I really wanted to finish it and mark what I felt was a fitting end to the PS4.
This was because The Last Of Us Part II was one of those games launched in the PS4's twilight years (June 2020), while the PS5 launched in November of that year. These games are special as they often show just what the console can really do when pushed to its absolute limits.
In terms of graphics this was certainly the case - I had never seen a better-looking game, even the Bloaters looked beautiful. That is until the PS5 came along.
I was taken in by the lure of the PS5 and its option to port all previous PS4 saved data, so you could play all your old-gen games on the shiny new console. It sounded seamless and for pretty much everyone else in the world it was.
For the most part this worked for me as well. Save data for nearly all my games went through seamlessly. All except The Last Of Us Part II. I thought I had ported the saved data over but when I loaded the game up it would only start from the very beginning. It wasn't saved to the cloud and it had disappeared from the storage.
Not to worry, I thought, I'll just play it on the PS4 and all will be fine.
It wasn't. I still don't know what I did but the data shift to the PS5 had borked my PS4. I had to do a factory reset to get the thing working again, which wiped everything.
I was gutted and I was stubborn. I was so annoyed with the whole situation that I decided to not replay, instead delve into what the PS5 had to offer, and try and forget the whole affair.
It was tough and curiosity almost got the better of me. I 'nearly' watched a run through of the final bits of TLOU 2 on YouTube, but I managed to resist the temptation. If it wasn't for the stupidly long ads preceding the game play, I may well have - so I guess you can add impatience to my stubbornness.
Eventually weeks went past and the not-knowing what happened stopped gnawing away. And, amazingly, in the spoiler world we live in now I never actual had the end of the game spoiled for me.
Watching the fantastic HBO series of the first game nearly made me go on YouTube one more time to put an end to the, er, end. But when I got wind that there was going to be a PS5 remaster of the game I decided to wait. And I am so happy I did.
Three years is a fantastic palate cleanser for those who want to replay a game. It gives a game enough space to become memory fragments.
There are, of course, certainly parts of The Last Of Us Part II that stay firmly stuck in the memory but how you get to them, the trails you take, the conversations you have, the people and infected you kill along the way fade and swirl.
Playing the game again just felt fresh, the memories I did have given a pixel polish thanks to its 4K, 30fps upgrade.
There's a real smoothness to the game, a sharpness to the graphics. The lights are wonderfully bright, glistening in parts, while the dangers in the dark have more prominence than ever before.
As for the cut scenes, they are next-gen through and through - so good that sometimes it's a little too seamless when you move from their cinematic look when you have to start playing again. There were moments when nobody was moving because I didn't know for a few seconds that I was back in control.
That's the strange, brilliant thing about playing a game like this where you lean back and then are flung forward into some of the most brutal action ever to grace a joypad. Action that's peppered with realism, thanks to the enhanced haptic feedback coming from the Dual Sense controller.
The ability to jump straight back into the game is a game-changer, too, and the laborious load times after you are killed are no more, with levels loading in seconds.
I will admit that my experience of The Last Of Us Part II is unique - and meant that I wanted to be there on Day One playing the game to get to where I never got to before.
There will be few that will want to revisit The Last Of Us Part II - it's so visceral and harrowing that once is enough - but those that do will be blessed with a superb upgrade, once that costs just £10 if you already have the PS4 version.
This is money very well spent - especially as there are plenty of bonus features, such as lost levels, guitar playing and the relentless No Return, to keep you occupied beyond the main story.
For others, who are experiencing Naughty Dog's masterpiece for the first time, the remaster really is the best way to experience what it is an exhausting, heartbreaking but ultimately rewarding gaming experience.
There's beauty to be found among the brutality - and now I can finally start talking to people about that ending.
The Last Of Us Part II Remastered is available to buy now or to upgrade if you have the original PS4 version.
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