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‘The Last of Us Part I’ is a gorgeous, faithful, expensive remake

One thing that is notably different is enemy AI. Human enemies are smarter and more aggressive, working together to flank you; they’re also a lot harder to lose once they pick up your trail. Infected, meanwhile, present their own set of challenges. Clickers, the blind Infected that use echolocation to find you and can kill you in one shot, have the same behavior they do in Part II. They’ll often stop their wandering and let out a series of “barks” — and if you’re near them when they do, well, you’re probably going to die quickly. In the original game, you were mostly safe as long as you didn’t make too much noise walking, but now you have to keep moving or hiding at all times.

The mega-powerful Bloaters are also modeled after their counterparts in Part II. The biggest change in their behavior is that they’ll build up a head of steam and charge at you like a bull — if you get out of the way they’ll often slam into a wall or other object and be stunned for a moment, a great opportunity to blast away at them with your shotgun. But in Part II, you can use the dodge button to dance out of the way. Since there’s no dodge in Part I, you have to sprint out of the way instead, something that’s not nearly as reliable. After getting so used to dodging the Bloater’s charge in Part II, it was a real pain to not have the same move here. And if a Bloater grabs you, it’s an instant death, so you’ll want to treat these upgraded enemies with the utmost care.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

The AI and behavior of your allies has been upgraded, too, which addresses a big complaint about the original game. If you were in stealth, your allies were essentially invisible to enemies, which meant that your cover couldn’t get blown if Ellie or another companion ran out in front of a Clicker. This avoided the frustration of being seen when you didn’t actually do anything to reveal your position, but it also meant that it looked pretty ridiculous when characters could run right out in front of enemies and not get spotted.

Now, your companions are much smarter at mimicking your behavior, going into cover when you’re in stealth and only revealing themselves if you do the same. Once or twice in my playthrough, an ally would be “out of position” and in the enemy’s line of sight, but, as in the first game, they’re essentially invisible. The good news is that it just doesn’t happen very often. It’s not perfect, but it’s an improvement.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

The haptic feedback system and adaptive triggers on the PS5’s DualSense controller also offer some subtle but noteworthy improvements to gameplay. Naughty Dog says each weapon has different resistance and feedback from the triggers, and the haptic vibrations are unique as well. While I can’t recognize every slight detail, shooting a revolver feels quite different on the trigger than shooting the shotgun or drawing your bow. Haptics accompany actions like reloading too, so you’ll feel a vibration for each pump of the shotgun after Joel takes a shot. There are too many haptic touches throughout the game to count, but one of my favorites is that you can “feel” rainfall as it vibrates lightly across the controller, like droplets are bouncing off your body.

Updates galore

While graphics and AI are the changes most people will notice first, there are a lot of smaller tweaks throughout that make The Last of Us Part I feel more like Part II. Things like a redesigned HUD and weapon selection interface, aiming reticles for different weapons and button prompts (like mashing square to open a blocked door or holding triangle to lift a gate) all match their counterparts in Part II. While weapon upgrade options are identical to those in the original game, the new visuals of Joel working on his guns with various tools are a lot more interesting than in the original game.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

Sony / Naughty Dog

Upon finishing the game, you’ll unlock a host of bonus material and gameplay modifiers. Most significant are the Permadeath and Speed Run modes. Just as in Part II, Permadeath removes all checkpoints, and if you set it to the most difficult level, one death sends you back to the very beginning of the game. For those who want a significant challenge but aren’t quite that dedicated, you can do Permadeath “per act” (which Naughty Dog estimates encompasses two to three hours of gameplay) or “per chapter,” which adds some checkpoints within each act. You can also try it at any difficulty level, which makes the challenge a lot more accessible. I know I’m not good enough to try a truly obscene Permadeath run on the ultra-difficult Grounded difficulty, but I have kicked off a run on Hard, which I should have a prayer of surviving.

Speedrun mode is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a nice quality of life enhancement for people who like to play games as quickly as possible. It enables an in-game timer that automatically pauses during cinematic and scene transitions. Once you finish the game, you’ll find a recap that breaks down your speed per chapter as well as your total play time, and the game saves records broken down by difficulty level and permadeath setting.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

Other unlockable extras include tons of concept art, both from the original release and new art done for this 2022 rerelease. There’s also a viewer that lets you explore highly detailed character models for just about everyone in the game; it also lets you see the disgusting details of the Infected in close range if you’re into that sort of thing. More Part II extras brought over here include a set of filters you can apply to tweak the visuals of the game (think an 8-bit setting or one that renders the game in a comic book style) and a bunch of gameplay modifiers. You can turn on infinite ammo or crafting supplies, one-shot kills, slow motion, explosive arrows and much more. Only hardcore fans are probably going to spend time with these, but they can add some fun new ways to play the game — combining something like unlimited ammo with a permadeath setting on the game’s hardest difficulty would be a particularly unique challenge, for example.

It’s not a stretch to say that The Last of Us Part II helped push accessibility in the video games industry forward — Naughty Dog provided players with an extensive and impressive selection of options, and I’m very glad to see that the company replicated that with Part I. Setting include a host of control adjustments (including complete control remapping), visual aids like magnification and high contrast modes, features that make navigating the world easier like a ledge guard to keep you from falling to your death, a text-to-speech reader, audio cues, extensive combat modifications and much more.

The Last of Us Part I review screenshots

Sony / Naughty Dog

It’s all present in Part I, along with a new feature that delivers haptic feedback on the controller to help deaf or hard-of-hearing players feel the emphasis in how lines of dialog are delivered. The game also includes audio descriptions for cutscenes, something that wasn’t present in Part II. All these accessibility modifications are important additions and things that any player can appreciate if they want to customize their experience with the game.

At a more basic level, Part I also lets you set a custom difficulty level. There are six options, but you can also set different challenges across five parts of the game: player, enemies, allies, stealth and resources. So you could make it a little easier to stay in stealth, or make resources more plentiful while otherwise keeping enemy aggressiveness high, for example. It’s yet another way to tweak your experience to match your skill level.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that virtual photographers will love Photo Mode in The Last of Us Part I. It’s even better than it is in Part II thanks to the addition of three lights that you can place anywhere around a scene to make things even more dramatic. You can adjust the color temperatures, brightness, position and many more options to customize the scene further than ever before. I can’t wait to see what the incredibly skilled virtual photography community around these games does with Part I. (All screenshots in this review, with the exception of those credited to Sony, were taken by me using the game’s Photo Mode.)

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Troubled ‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’ remake reportedly switches studios

The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake is reportedly back in development… at a different studio. According to Bloomberg, one of Saber Interactive’s studios in Eastern Europe has taken over the project after it was put on indefinite hold by Aspyr Media in July. Aspyr had been working on the project for years and had industry veterans, as well as people who worked on the original game released back in 2003, on board. It even finished a demo of the game to show Lucasfilm and Sony on June 30th. But a week later, the company reportedly fired design director Brad Prince and art director Jason Minor.

The situation surrounding Prince and Minor wasn’t quite clear, but a source that talked to Bloomberg at the time suggested that the demo cost a disproportionate amount of time and money. Rumors reportedly circulated among Aspyr personnel that Saber Interactive, which has been doing outsourced work for the project, would take the helm. Those speculations may turn out to be true.

While neither developer has issued an official statement yet, mega game publisher Embracer may have alluded to the studio switch in its most recent financial report. Embracer, which owns both Aspyr and Saber Interactive, said one of its “AAA projects has transitioned to another studio” within the company. “This was done to ensure the quality bar is where we need it to be for the title,” it added.

Embracer also said that it’s not expecting any major delays as a result of the transition, but it’s not like the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake was scheduled for release in the near future anyway. It doesn’t have a launch date yet, and it will reportedly take at least two more years before it’s ready.

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‘Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic’ remake is indefinitely delayed

You might not get to play the PlayStation 5 remake of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic anytime soon: According to Bloomberg, its development has been delayed indefinitely. Sony announced that Aspyr Media, a company known for creating ports out of existing video games, was remaking BioWare’s classic Star Wars RPG last year. Aspyr had been working on the remake for three years by then and had industry veterans, as well as people who helped create the original game, onboard. Things certainly looked promising, but now the game’s future seems uncertain. 

Apparently, Aspyr finished a demo of the game to show Lucasfilm and Sony on June 30th and the developers were even excited by what they’ve achieved. A week later, however, the company fired design director Brad Prince and art director Jason Minor. On his LinkedIn page, Minor’s Aspyr credit shows his end of employment as July 2022, and his profile image currently features the “#Opentowork” frame.

Aspyr reportedly held a series of meetings in July about the situation to tell employees that the demo wasn’t where they wanted it to be and that the project would be put on hold. The studio heads also told staff members that the company will be looking for new contracts and development opportunities. 

While the developer’s reasons for firing Prince and Minor and for freezing the project aren’t clear at this point, one of Bloomberg’s sources suggested that it poured a disproportionate amount of time and money into creating the demo. If that’s the case, continuing what it’s been doing for the rest of the game wouldn’t be sustainable. Bloomberg says another possible point of contention is the game’s timeline. Aspyr has been telling partners that the game would be released by the end of 2022, but 2025 would be a more realistic target.

Some Aspyr personnel now believe that Saber Interactive, which has been doing outsourced work for the project, could now take over. We reached out to the company for a response to Bloomberg’s report and will edit this post with any information it may provide. To note, company released Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II for the Nintendo Switch back in June. The game went out with a bug that prevented people from finishing it, but Aspyr rolled out a patch to fix the issue in July.

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Naughty Dog shows off improved gameplay from ‘The Last of Us’ PS5 remake

With the PS5 remake for The Last of Us set to arrive soon, developer Naughty Dog recently showed the benefits you can expect with the new hardware. Now in a 10-minute video, the company has detailed new features including a speed-run mode and smarter AI, while walking through improved graphics, physics, character models, animations and more. 

As we saw last month, the new graphics are indeed much improved, with native 4K at 30 fps or dynamic 4K at 60 fps. The biggest changes are with gameplay, though. First off, the remake uses AI from The Last of Us Part 2, which gives enemies and NPCs more complex tactics, making for better fights. It’s not one-sided, either, as your companions’ AI has also been updated. 

The remake also includes new gameplay modes. One of those is a permadeath mode for those who want the full “infected” zombie apocalypse experience, along with new unlockable costumes for Joel and Ellie. The other is a speed run mode — details are scant on that, other than that you’ll be able to measure your progress with a timer. 

The other improvements revolve around characters, with new models that include far more detail “down to the irises and the pupil depths,” noted creative director and writer Shaun Escayg. The team also updated the animations with improved facial expressions, motion-matching tech for more flowing movements and more. It also includes new materials, physics, haptics, 3D audio and more.

The remake does look impressive, but it will sell at a full $70 triple-A price when it arrives on September 2nd. As such, Naughty Dog and Sony appear to be doing more than the usual amount of marketing for a remake, no doubt hoping to show potential buyers it’s worth that. 

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PS Plus Extra and Premium games for July include ‘Stray’ and ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade’

Sony has announced the first new batch of games for its higher PlayStation Plus tiers since it revamped the service. Along with the three titles that are available for PS Plus Essential members and those in the current Extra and Premium libraries, subscribers will have access to a bunch more games as of July 19th.

One of those is Stray, a cyberpunk adventure game in which you play as a cat with a drone companion. It’s the first time that a third-party title will be available on a higher PS Plus tier on its release date. You’ll have access to the PS4 and PS5 versions. 

Members will also be able to check out PS5 blockbuster Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade. The PS4 version of Final Fantasy VII Remake was previously available to claim through PS Plus. However, for a while, those who snagged it were unable to get Intergrade without paying for the full game. Square Enix eventually relented and offered an upgrade path.

Also on July 19th, Extra and Premium members can play Marvel’s Avengers on PS4 and PS5 at no extra cost. Things haven’t exactly gone incredibly well for that but the gameplay is solid. Crystal Dynamics just added the latest playable character, The Mighty Thor (Jane Foster), a few weeks ago.

On top of those, you’ll have access to a bunch more Assassin’s Creed games, Saints Row entries and some other games:

  • Assassin’s Creed Unity (PS4)

  • Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (PS4)

  • Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered (PS4)

  • Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry (PS4)

  • Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection (PS4)

  • Saints Row IV: Re-Elected (PS4)

  • Saints Row Gat out of Hell (PS4)

  • Spirit of the North: Enhanced Edition (PS5)

  • Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure (PS4)

  • Jumanji The Video Game (PS4)

  • Paw Patrol on a Roll! (PS4)

  • ReadySet Heroes (PS4)

Premium members will be able to dive into a couple more PlayStation Portable titles in the form of No Heroes Allowed! and LocoRoco Midnight Carnival as well. That’s a fairly solid slate of additions overall, with something for just about everyone.

Sony says it will continue to shakeup the PS Plus lineups on a monthly basis. It will refresh the Essential library at the start of each month and add new games to Extra and Essential a couple of weeks later. Bear in mind that games will cycle in and out of the Extra and Essential tiers, but you’ll have access to Essential titles you claim as long as you maintain a PS Plus subscription.

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Suda51’s ‘Lollipop Chainsaw’ is getting a remake

Publisher Dragami Games has announced a remake of , which will arrive next year. The 2012 original was a . It’s a hack-and-slash title from the minds of producer Yoshimi Yasuda, creative director (of No More Heroes fame) and director , who was a writer on the game.

Lollipop Chainsaw focuses on Juliet Starling, a cheerleader who battles zombies in a California high school. Surprisingly enough, Juliet wields a chainsaw that she can use in various ways (including ranged attacks). She can also collect lollipops to restore her health. Juliet is accompanied on her quest by the disembodied head of her boyfriend. A serious game this is not. 

Dragami Games is led by Yasuda. who will also produce the remake. The development team includes some other folks who previously worked on Lollipop Chainsaw. As notes, some aspects will be different in the remake. Yasuda said the new version will take advantage of current-gen console hardware to deliver “a more realistic approach to the graphics.” It will have new music as well, due to licensing issues.

Dragami acquired the intellectual property of Lollipop Chainsaw and other titles from original publisher Kadokawa Games (Dragami recently split off from the latter). “Unfortunately, resulted in things making it so that fans can no longer easily play Lollipop Chainsaw, and it has been some time since players have not been able to access the game on current consoles,” Yasuda wrote in a statement . “We, the original development staff on Lollipop Chainsaw, think of the game as very precious to us, and did not want to leave it in limbo, where players who want to play it cannot.”

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‘The Last of Us Part I’ remake comes to PS5 on September 2nd

You won’t have to settle for PS4-era graphics to play the original The Last of Us on your PS5. As Twitter user Wario64 noticed, the PlayStation Direct online store has prematurely revealed that a The Last of Us Part I remake is coming to PS5 on September 2nd, with a PC version “in development.” While there aren’t too many details, it’s clear this represents a major visual upgrade — this isn’t just a performance patch or a touch-up. You can also expect “modernized” game mechanics with better combat, control, exploration and accessibility features.

The “rebuilt” game will apparently be available in standard ($70) and special Firefly Edition ($100) copies. The listings were otherwise empty apart from a trailer, and they disappeared while we were writing this. Clearly, Sony wanted to save them for a formal announcement in the near future.

The arrival of a Last of Us Part I re-do isn’t shocking. Sony and Insomniac are bringing Spider-Man and Miles Morales to PC later this year, and that’s on top of existing refreshes and PC ports for titles like God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn. Sony is eager to profit from re-releases of the PlayStation platform’s best-known games, and TLOU certainly qualifies for that treatment.

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Naughty Dog reveals more details about ‘The Last of Us’ remake for PS5 and PC

As if official confirmation was actually needed after the leak earlier today, a remake of 2013’s The Last Of Us is coming to PlayStation 5 on September 2nd. Sony put together a trailer showing some of the gorgeous visuals of The Last of Us Part I and noted that the remake is coming to PC as well. The bundle also includes the excellent Left Behind expansion.

The developers used original performances from Ashley Johnson, Troy Baker, and the rest of the cast, but utilized a new AI and refreshed the combat. The effects and exploration have been enhanced as well. The team is harnessing 3D audio and the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. There will be more accessibility features than the original game had too, building on the extensive options in The Last of Us Part II. More details will be revealed in the coming months.

The remake is a full-price game at $70. Opt for the $80 Digital Deluxe edition and you’ll be able to unlock some items and features early, including a speedrun mode, explosive arrows(!), weapon skins and modifiers for faster crafting and healing. The $100 Firefly edition includes all of those bonuses as well as a steelbook cover for the physical version and four issues of the The Last of Us: American Dreams comic. There are pre-order perks for every version too.

That’s not the only news about the franchise that was revealed today. It’s long been acknowledged that a standalone multiplayer games set in the world of The Last of Us was in the works, and now Naughty Dog has revealed more details about what’s in store. Studio co-president Neil Druckmann, the director of the first two games in the series, showed the first concept art at Summer Game Fest.

TLOU multiplayer game

Naughty Dog

Druckmann said it will be “as big of as any of our single-player games that we’ve done, and in some ways bigger.” It has its own story and a new cast of characters, along with a fresh setting. It’s led by a team of Naughty Dog veterans who have worked on the series as well as the Uncharted games. More details will be announced next year. 

Following that announcement, Druckmann touched on the HBO’s upcoming The Last of Us series. While lots of set photos have popped up over the last year, he showed the second official still from the show. It shows Joel (Pedro Pascal) and (Bella Ramsay) taking cover. Bump up the brightness on the image, though, and you’ll see something lurking in the background.

The Last of Us show

PlayStation Productions/HBO

It also emerged that Johnson and Baker, who played Ellie and Joel in the games, will appear in the show, but their roles haven’t been revealed as yet. Filming will wrap on the first season tomorrow. While the series is expected to arrive next year, Druckmann said that fans will hear more about it “very soon.”

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Activision will reveal its ‘Modern Warfare II’ remake on June 8th

Just a couple of weeks after divulging the release date for , Activision Blizzard is set to show off much more about the next game in the long-running series. A “worldwide reveal” will take place on June 8th at 1PM ET. 

The teased the reveal when it announced the October 28th release date last month. Activision previously confirmed some of the characters who will appear in Modern Warfare II, including John “Soap” MacTavish and Simon “Ghost” Riley. The reveal will surely offer a lot more info, probably including a first look at gameplay.

Infinity Ward is on deck for this year’s Call of Duty game, which is a sequel to 2019’s . That itself was a reboot of the Modern Warfare sub-series, which started in 2007 with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Confused yet? Don’t blame you.

Infinity Ward is also working on of the battle royale, which will arrive at the same time as Modern Warfare II. Among the updates will be a new engine for both games.

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Capcom’s ‘Resident Evil 4’ remake lands on March 24th, 2023

Capcom’s oft-rumored, much-anticipated remake of Resident Evil 4 is officially a thing and it’s heading to PS5, Xbox Series X and S, and PC via Steam on March 24th, 2023. The studio debuted a trailer for the project during the PlayStation State of Play live stream.

The game will be a revamp of the original, beloved 2005 title starring Leon S. Kennedy and the president’s daughter, Ashley Graham. And, of course, a bunch of homicidal infected villagers.

“We aim to make the game feel familiar to fans of the series, while also providing a fresh feeling to it,” a Capcom producer said on the PlayStation Blog. “This is being done by reimagining the storyline of the game while keeping the essence of its direction, modernizing the graphics and updating the controls to a modern standard.”

Capcom also teased some Resident Evil 4 content built specifically for PlayStation VR 2, the incoming version of Sony’s console VR headset. 

On top of all the old-school remake goodness, Capcom is also building a PSVR2 version of Resident Evil: Village, the latest Resident Evil game. The first trailer for this bit of content features scenes from early sections of the game, focusing on everyone’s favorite tall vampire lady.

The PSVR2 edition of Resident Evil: Village will feature the entire PS5 version of the game. Capcom and Sony partnered up to bring Resident Evil 7 to VR back in 2017, and this formula seems to be working for them.

There’s no release date for Sony’s PSVR2 quite yet, and no word on a release date for that Resident Evil: Village DLC we were promised a year ago.

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