The Last of Us Part II Remastered Review: Violence Fueled by Love
(Photo Credit: Sony)

The Last of Us Part II Remastered Review: Violence Fueled by Love

If you enjoyed HBO’s The Last of Us and don’t want to wait until 2025 to see where Ellie and Joel’s story goes, then The Last of Us Part II Remastered is coming out at the perfect time. Set five years after the events of the original, the dark action game explores revenge and the cyclical nature of violence. This new version for the PlayStation 5 looks and plays better than ever while also being stuffed with bonus content, making it the definitive version of the game.

If there was one issue with 2022’s The Last of Us Part I, it was that it was hard to go backward in terms of gameplay. The second entry plays much smoother, allowing for better combat exchanges, more meaningful ways to engage with foes stealthily, and action that is thrilling rather than, at times, frustrating. No matter what your thoughts are on the game’s story, the sequel is much superior from an actual gameplay perspective.

Narratively, Naughty Dog’s sequel basks in the gray area for most of its runtime. You wind up seeing both sides of the game’s conflict, controlling three characters and getting to see their varied perspective. It’s a tragic story based around the core of human emotions, even though the game’s incredible set pieces (particularly the hospital, island, and skyscraper scenes) dazzle with spectacle. Not everything is perfect, as the final act dampens its themes a bit and winds up going on for a bit too long, but it winds up making an emotional impact nonetheless.

The Last of Us Part II Remastered features great improvements

When The Last of Us Part II came out in 2020, it was incredibly polished and pushed the PlayStation 4 to new technical heights. The remaster uses the extra power of the PlayStation 5 to deliver a native 4K fidelity mode (although the 1440p upscaled to 4K performance mode is what I’d recommend) and an unlocked framerate option as well. Load times are also much improved, as is shadow and detail quality. It simply looks as stunning as it plays. There’s also great DualSense integration, as the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers make combat feel all the more tactile as you battle throughout Seattle.

One of the big draws of the remaster is a new roguelike survival mode called No Return. This is a fun diversion, although, without a narrative hook, I didn’t want to spend a ton of time with it. There’s a lot of content — you get to choose your own path of randomized combat encounters before leading to a boss battle and can complete challenges to unlock additional playable characters. If you’re really into the gameplay or just want to dive back into the world of The Last of Us, then you’ll have a good time, but it can feel like you’re in a cycle of senseless violence during your fight for survival … although that’s not too different from the game’s theme now that I think of it.

The coolest addition is the inclusion of three cut levels. Introduced by director Neil Druckmann and including developer commentary (you also unlock this for the full game after you beat it), the three levels are an intriguing look at game development. Anything that humanizes the process of making art and entertainment is a plus, but these levels are also fun to go through, even in their unfinished state. A party in Jackson, showing the town folk enjoying themselves, is particularly nice to walk through, while an enemy encounter with a boar showcases Ellie’s mental unraveling as violence overtakes her life. This is exactly the type of bonus content that more remasters should feature and shows how lovingly crafted this package is.

With better graphics, gameplay, and worthwhile additions, it’s an easy recommendation to pay and upgrade to The Last of Us Part II Remastered if you own the original. If you didn’t play the PS4 original, then it’s even more of a no-brainer, as this is one of the most polished and memorable games ever made. Not afraid to deal with dark subject matter and fully explore its characters, The Last of Us Part II remains a slightly flawed yet incredible experience.

SCORE: 9/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 9 equates to “Excellent.” Entertainment that reaches this level is at the top of its type. The gold standard that every creator aims to reach.

Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our The Last of Us Part II Remastered review. Reviewed on version 1.000.040.

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