Since the presentation of The Last of Us Part 1 at Summer Game Fest 2022, the Internet has been torn to find out if it is a remake or a remaster of the first, iconic title from Naughty Dog.
If there was only one announcement from the Summer Game Fest organized by Geoff Keighley, for many players, it should be The Last of Us Part 1. To better support the release of the TV series adaptation and to offer new players the opportunity to discover the beginning of the adventures of Joel and Ellie, Sony has unveiled a new edition of the first episode of the series for PS5. For the first time, and in line with PlayStation’s new strategy, this new edition will also be adapted for PC after its release on PS5.
The development of this edition had already been rumored, but its announcement still surprised many people. The Last of Us has been closely following players since its first release in 2013. The game has already had the right to a remastered edition on PS4 The Last of Us: Remastered, then a sequel The Last of Us Part 2 in 2020, before this PS5 reissue The Last of Us Part 1 dated for release on September 2, 2022. In less than 10 years, the first episode will therefore be released for the 3rd time, in addition to the release of a TV adaptation and a after.
But what has fans debated the most on the internet isn’t Sony’s degree of financial appetite with its many re-releases, but rather the question of the difference between a remake and a remaster. Is The Last of Us Part 1 really a remake of the first episode? What is a remake actually? How to tell the difference with a remaster?
Remake or remaster: definition of terms
For many years now, video game publishers like to regularly offer remasters or remakes of old games. The general idea is to allow new players (new customers) to discover titles that have made the history of video games. It also allows you to test the popularity of a license in contemporary times. Finally, this makes it possible to have a version of the game adapted to contemporary requirements: compatibility with numerous platforms, integration of automatic saves, keyboard and controller playability, 16:9 format, Full HD or 4K display definition, etc.
The problem is that nothing officially defines the difference between a remaster or a remake. Each publisher will name things differently, which precisely generates debates on the misleading nature of certain terms sometimes used. Here is how we can differentiate between the two terms.
Most generally, the remaster of a game concerns a title released on the previous generation of consoles, whose publisher will offer a complete edition integrating all the DLC with some technological adjustments. The difference between the original game and the remaster is therefore often tenuous: a little less aliasing on the screen, some new effects, better playability and perhaps some performance adjustments (change to 60 frames per second on console).
- Examples of remasters: The Last of Us Remastered on PS4, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix, Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition
When we talk about the remake of a game, this implies the creation of new ” assets », that is to say a new 3D modeling for the characters, a completely new game engine, the rewriting of the game design of the game on certain elements or even major changes to the title. The difference with the “reboot” is sometimes difficult to perceive as the remake can move away from the original game. This is particularly the case with Final Fantasy VII Remake, which allows for certain significant changes compared to the original game. Generally, the remake must offer a significant visual difference between the original game and the new version, sometimes with completely changed gameplay.
- Examples of remakes: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Resident Evil 2, Black Mesa (Half-Life), The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Why our definitions are wrong
As we said above, each publisher does things differently, and there is no real definition of the terms remaster or remake. All of this is therefore very subjective, we have tried to write definitions that broadly overlap the two types of reissues.
For example, the creation of new assets that we indicate for the creation of remakes may very well relate to remasters. The Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster Collection is well categorized by Square Enix in its name, yet the 2D pixel art models of the various characters have been redesigned by the developers.
Conversely, the excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap actually runs the original game behind its completely redesigned appearance. So is it really a remake if the executed code is actually an emulation of the original game.
Finally, some may wonder why we do not trace the decisive criterion to the game engine used. If the new edition uses a different game engine, then surely it’s a remake? Again, it’s not that simple. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is famous for being a port to a new graphics engine, moving from Renderware to Unreal Engine 4, while for many gamers it’s just a visual remaster. Behind its rather light visual work, the Legendary Edition of Mass Effect rebalances and fixes multiple issues from the original games. An effort often rather left to remakes.
Even Sony gets lost
Let’s go back to the case of The Last of Us. The situation is, to say the least, difficult to decide. It must be said that unlike The Last of Us: Remastered edition, Sony does not clearly indicate in the title whether it is a remake of the first game or a remaster. To add further confusion to the situation, the game’s French trailer states that it has been ” fully remastered on PlayStation 5 “while the English trailer rather sells us a remake” completely rebuilt from scratch “.
So is The Last of us Part 1 for PlayStation 5, and soon PC, a remake or a remaster? According to us, it will indeed be a remake of the first episode released in 2013. Here is what allows us to define it.
First there is the visual difference between the remastered edition on PS4 and the planned edition on PS5. Yes, it can appear tenuous when we compare what The Last of Us Part 1 offers as a difference with its original, in the face of remakes of games sometimes skipping several generations. Of course, between the remake of a PS1 game like Resident Evil 2 or Final Fantasy VII and their remake on PS4, there will be greater differences than between a PS3 game remastered on PS4 and its PS5 remake. Especially since we are talking about a game that was already pushing the visuals and the PS3 to its limits when it was first released.
The visual difference can be seen in the change in the modeling of the characters, modified to look more like their modeling in The Last of Us Part 2, but also in the surrounding environments, such as the furniture which has also been modified there. This implies creative work on each level of the game. Finally, pay attention to certain comparisons that you could find on the Internet between the two editions. The first episode featured videos with pre-rendered for some cutscenes. This no longer seems to be the case for The Last of Us Part 1 which benefits from real-time scenes.
If it was a simple remaster, Sony would most likely be able to release it on PlayStation 4 and benefit from the huge installed base of consoles. If the firm decides not to do so and to do without this source of income, it may be for technical reasons. The remake would be too demanding for the previous generation console, or would have required costly optimization efforts for Sony.
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Another argument in favor of the remake, Sony promises to have modified the gameplay of the game, and in particular the AI of the enemies to offer a better experience. We’ll have to wait for the test to be sure, but it’s the kind of rewrite elements that lean towards the side of the remake.
To buckle the buckle
Whether it is judged as a remake or a remaster, The Last of Us Part 1 allows, whatever happens, to introduce new players to a video game monument. It also allows to realign the title of the first episode with the second, and perhaps to bring their respective scenarios into line (we won’t say more). While waiting for the tests and the release scheduled for September 2, 2022, each of the former fans will judge whether the level of work seems sufficient to them to go back to checkout, or whether they will leave this edition aside.
The Last Of Us Part 1 is available for pre-order from 79.99 euros at Fnac.
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