Naughty Dog has become something of a controversial video game studio over the past few years, largely due to the way The Last Of Us Part II divided fans.
The controversies surrounding the game were numerous. When large parts of the sequel leaked online, Sony and Naughty Dog took extreme measures to keep all discussion of these leaks tamped down, issuing DMCA takedowns to YouTubers who simply talked about the leaks as opposed to including any leaked content itself.
Then there was controversy surrounding the game itself, which some thought was overly politicized and “woke.” Others simply disliked the focus on Abby, a deeply unlikable character who (SPOILERS) kills off the main character from the first game, Joel, in the game’s opening sequence.
I personally found the game immensely distasteful, with gratuitous violence and a dark revenge theme that left me exhausted by the end. The bleak story with its outlandish bad guys and unsympathetic protagonists made me despise almost every single character by the time the credits rolled.
The best thing I can say about the game—other than it led me to write one of my best video game reviews—is that it was a simply stunning technical achievement. Hands down, this was one of the best-looking, best-produced games I’d ever played at the time.
If only it wasn’t so unrelentlessly ugly.
Now Naughty Dog is producing The Last Of Us Part I, a total remake of the original The Last Of Us on PS3 (which itself got a remaster for PS4). The remake will bring the original game to the PS5 and will likely exceed the graphical achievements we saw in Part II on PS4 (though just wait for the remake of that game).
This, of course, is controversial. Many are claiming that it’s little more than a “cash grab” given Sony is charging $70 for the game despite it being a remake of a much older title.
Others are worried that the political messaging of the sequel will somehow find its way into the much more apolitical original game, though Naughty Dog has promised that the story will remain the same.
Me? I’m just scratching my head at what they’ve done to my boy Joel. He looks like crap in the new screenshots—older, more weathered and beat down, eyes sunken and baggy. I just can’t really understand why they’d actively make the main character of the game look worse. He looked just fine in the original.
Hey, at least they didn’t make him look like Pedro Pascal, the actor playing Joel in the HBO TV adaptation. That would be George Lucas level bad (I’ll never forgive George for his many crimes against cinema, but especially replacing the OG Anakin Force ghost with Hayden Christensen).
Ellie is less of an abomination:
Still, she looks older than she’s supposed to at this point in the story. Both characters are supposed to be younger in the first game and older in the second, but it’s like Naughty Dog wanted visual continuity and aged them both up considerably.
Here’s the trailer:
Look, I loved this game when it came out and it’s been years since I’ve played it now so I will absolutely play it again on PS5 when this releases in September. It looks great (mostly) and if the story remains the same then I’m totally onboard.
But still, $70 for a remake feels steep. Demon’s Souls is one of my favorite games of all time and I think asking $70 for it was absurd. The problem here is that many of us have already purchased copies of these games. If you’ve spent $60 on The Last Of Us or Demon’s Souls (both on PS3) dropping another $70 is a bitter pill. I get that it costs money to make these titles and the companies need to make that back and earn a profit but still. Seventy bucks is a lot of money.
Then there’s just the nature of remakes in general and a growing antipathy toward the constant rehashing of old content. Movies are getting updated ‘modern’ reimaged versions all the time. Games that just came out on PS4 have a remastered version already on PS5.
Finally, there’s the Skyrim effect. Bethesda has released that game myriad times, always with some remastered content and the same old bugs and flaws intact. Again and again and again Skyrim has been released with nary a trailer for Elder Scrolls VI.
Well, The Last Of Us has already had two separate releases and now we’re nearing a third. What if you bought both the original and the remaster and now you’re being asked to fork over $70 for the remake? That’s a lot of money!
I suppose for hardcore fans and newcomers, this is actually all very good news. The Last Of Us is a great game and getting to play it with modern graphics on modern hardware is a nice bonus.
The Last Of Us Part I releases on September 2nd, 2o22.