The Last of Us comes to PS4 – but don't call it a remake

The remastered edition of last year's multi-award-winning adventure offers enhanced graphics and a complete package for the first time. With the upcoming release of The Last of Us: Remastered, one of the biggest games of 2013 is coming to the PS4 in a new definitive edition.

Out in the UK on July 30, the new edition includes the original game, which follows the journey of Joel and Ellie, as they struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, as well as all previously released add-ons such as the Ellie-focused Left Behind DLC and multi player map packs.

The whole package has been given a polish for the next-gen console, the frame-rate boosted to a smooth 60fps, and the resolution of character models and textures pushed beyond what the seven-year-old PS3 could handle.

"We were at the end of a seven year console cycle, and we were squeezing every damn bit of juice out of that thing," says Troy Baker, who voiced Joel. "I remember everyone going 'I can't believe how lush this looks, how beautiful it looks.' And it did! And then to see it side by side with where we're at now is mind-blowing.

"To me, what I love most about it is the world played such a character in the story," Baker continues. "The environment was so much a part of the experience, and to see all of the hard work from the background artists and the layout artists and everything that was involved with the art direction be fully realised the way they originally intended – that's what I love most about it. There's some detail and some subtle nuance, there's so much of the story that was told within the environment, and I love that you really get to see that."

The team purposefully decided to put a limit on the extent of the improvements. "There was a lot of stuff that they wanted to change," says Ashley Johnson, who voices Ellie. "Every director wants another cut… but if we ended up really tweaking and fixing all the things that we wanted to, we would never stop. We would have ended up making another game."

Baker mentions Ellie's path finding as one avenue of discussion which was halted fairly early on, and Arne Meyer, of Last of Us developers Naughty Dog, adds another. "Definitely our community and our reviewers have docked us a little for some difficulty spikes in the game," Meyer says, "and that was one where it was like 'maybe we should look at that'.

"But it's a slippery slope. Once you change that, what else do you change? That's when we decided we need to pull back on that and not change it as much." Meyer cites "a series which I won't name" as providing a warning sign about the perils of approaching remasters as opportunities to fixed perceived wrongs, but Baker is less circumspect, coughing the name "Star Wars" between words.

The mere fact that the team decided not to change the game play doesn't mean the port was a matter of simply redoing the textures and calling it a day, however. Behind the scenes, the two generations of Play station are radically different machines, something which necessitated building an entirely new engine for the game to run on.

"This entire generation of consoles has made great steps in making it easier to code for, but we were taking something so bound to the PS3, so it was a challenge," Meyer explains. "So much of the advances that we've done visually on the PS3 was because we could move our routines over to the SPUs, which is something that doesn't exist on the PS4. We were able to push our graphics and our lighting so far with that, and now that doesn't exist, it's like 'how can we recreate that, or make it even better?'"

But now that the engine has been made, Naughty Dog is already one step closer to their next game, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, due 2015. Every other console generation, the team has struggled to write a whole new engine at the same time as creating its game, but this time it should be different. "This has given us a really great advantage to working on Uncharted 4. It's had us create a good foundation to start pushing things that we could only do on the PS4, and really delve in to that."


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