After ten years of waiting, it's finally time for PC gamers to take part in what we at Gamereactor consider to be one of the best games of all time, but does it really measure up?
We're all familiar with this story by now. If you haven't yet enjoyed the now ten (!) year old game (which was originally rolled out for Playstation 3), you've most likely watched HBO Max's acclaimed TV series adaptation of Naughty Dog's masterpiece, and thus don't need to be warned here for possible story spoilers. The Last of Us is today, after all these years, one of those games that not only hypnotized an entire generation of gamers but also redefined what and how interactive storytelling can look like and what it can mean for the player.
I don't need to explain for a second how much this game means to me and how much it has meant to me since its release in the summer of 2013. I'd go so far as to say that I most likely wouldn't still be writing about games if it wasn't for the instant, massive boost I got from The Last of Us, and when I enjoy titles that share the DNA (God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Days Gone) that Naughty Dog infused their story-driven action game with, my thoughts often end up with Joel and Ellie, thanking them for taking the gaming medium to new heights with an incredibly talented development team.
At my house, the story of Joel and Ellie has taken hold of me and refused to let go so many times that I've lost count. Of course, I played through The Last of Us for my 2013 review and six months later I remember playing through it a second time on a higher difficulty level. Then, when the Remaster edition was released for the PlayStation 4 and my daughter was born, I played through it again, and I've since played through the PS4 version once more (for the review of The Last of Us: Part II) and then again with the new version for the PlayStation 5, on which this PC conversion is based. On top of that, I've watched the HBO series twice from start to finish, and despite this, I really can't get enough of Joel and Ellie's journey through a crippled USA.
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Of course, there are plenty of games where the story and characters feel real, alive and believable. There are plenty of relationships between different characters in different games that grab us, touch us and stay with us. Kratos' relationship with his son Artreus. Clementine's relationship with Lee in Telltale's The Walking Dead, Max and Chloe's relationship in Life is Strange, Garrus and Shepard in Mass Effect are just a few of the best examples I can think of off the top of my head, but none of these relationships even come close to what is portrayed in The Last of Us. Not if you ask me. Because the way that Ellie heals Joel while Joel saves Ellie, and how they slowly but surely grow together into that father/daughter duo that Joel once lost... That story and the way it is told grabs me every single time, and refuses to let go. There are moments in this game, several of them, that genuinely move me to tears every single time they happen. The subtlety in perfect contrast with the brutality. The Last of Us is so beautiful and so ruthless at the same time and there are nuances upon nuances here that I would say 99.99% of all other story-driven action games of all time lack.
For the release of this PC version (where the conversion work was done by experienced porting studio Iron Galaxy), Sony has been careful to really hammer home the fact that this is the "ultimate" version of Naughty Dog's game. There's AMS FSR 2.2 support, Nvidia DLSS, V-sync, ultrawide support, 3D audio and full support for Dualsense and the haptic feedback that that controller provides. At first it sounded phenomenal, of course, but the final product that costs £49.99 (for a ten year old game) is unfortunately not very good. And it directly hurts my old soot-black old heart to realize that this conversion is an unfinished job.
Iron Galaxy Studios was, among other things, behind the PC version of Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection and already there we saw some problems with microstuttering and how the game rendered shadows. There were also major problems with the monitor update and how an old game made unreasonable demands on the computers it was running on. Exactly the same annoying shortcomings (but a little worse, actually) now also apply to The Last of Us: Part I for PC, which I would like to name the worst optimized PC conversion since the GTA Trilogy was rolled out to PC in a downright ridiculous state.
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The Last of Us: Part I is more demanding in terms of graphics card requirements and processor than pretty much anything else we feed our HP Omen 45L with here at the editorial office, and trying to reach 100 frames per second with working shadows is just a thing of the past. Textures refuse to load, or the wrong textures are loaded, characters look like they're rendered in 120P for Nintendo 64 all of a sudden, Joel and Ellie get wet during an indoor cutscene (halfway in, by the way), houses disappear completely and the game coughs, hiccups and crackles so much that it feels like an early April Fool's joke. During other parts it works pretty well, but it doesn't matter when a ten year old product that has finally been released for PC is rolled out in this troubling condition. I mean... Why? Or rather; How? Iron Galaxy has had plenty of time and Sony has of course almost unlimited resources to really make something good out of their most beloved game ever. For me as a super fan of The Last of Us, it is not only incomprehensible how this can happen, it is also unworthy of an action adventure that is only deserving of the finest of treatment.
If you are one of those gamers who have been waiting and waiting and waiting to experience this unanimously acclaimed masterpiece for your PC, you should of course absolutely wait, or refrain from this completely. There are chances that Iron Galaxy and Sony can fix what is currently broken, but considering how messed up GTA Trilogy for PC still is and how many bugs remain in, for example, Cyberpunk 2077 (despite years of patching), I would definitely not count on it. I'm sorry to say.
5 / 10
Basically, a magical game that redefined interactive entertainment ten years ago
Terrible conversion drowned in bugs, stuttering and messed up shadows and textures not loading.