Is The Last of Us Part 1 video game a remake or a remaster?

Since the presentation of The Last of Us Part 1 at Summer Game Fest 2022, the internet has been torn apart to find out if it’s a remake or a remaster of the first, iconic title from Naughty Dog.

The Last of Us Part 1 // Source: Sony

If there was only one announcement from Summer Game Fest hosted 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 Joel and Ellie’s adventures, Sony has unveiled a new edition of the first episode of the series for the PS5. For the first time, and in line with PlayStation’s new strategy, this new release 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 following gamers closely since its first release in 2013. The game has already been entitled to a remastered version on PS4 The Last of Us: Remastered, then a sequel to The Last of Us Part 2 in 2020, before this PS5 re-release 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 one after.

But what fans have been discussing most on the internet is not Sony’s degree of financial appetite with the 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 exactly is a remake? How can one tell the difference between a remaster?

Remake or remaster: definition of concepts

For many years now, video game publishers have been offering regular remasters or remakes of old games. The general idea is to give new players (new customers) the opportunity to discover titles that have written the history of video games. It also allows you to test the popularity of a license in modern times. Finally, this makes it possible to have a version of the game adapted to contemporary requirements: compatibility with several platforms, integration of automatic storage, keyboard and controller playability, 16: 9 format, Full HD or 4K screen definition, etc.

Resident Evil Remastered HD
Resident Evil is a remaster of the remake (yes) // Source: Capcom

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 about the misleading nature of certain terms sometimes used. Here’s how we can distinguish between the two terms.

Remasteren

In general, the remaster of a game relates to a title released on the previous generation of consoles, the publisher of which will offer a full version that integrates all the DLCs with some technological adjustments. The difference between the original game and the remaster is therefore often slim: a little less aliasing on the screen, some new effects, better playability and maybe some performance adjustments (switch to 60 frames per second on the 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
mass-effect-legendary-edition
The visual differences between a game and its remaster are often small // Source: EA

The re-recording

When we talk about the remake of a game, it involves the creation of new ” assets », That is, a new 3D modeling for the characters, a completely new game engine, rewriting of the game’s game design on certain elements or even major changes to the title. The difference with “restart” is sometimes difficult to perceive, as the remake can move away from the original game. This is especially the case with the Final Fantasy VII Remake, which allows for certain significant changes compared to the original game. In general, the remake should offer a significant visual difference between the original game and the new version, sometimes with completely changed gameplay.

  • Examples of re-recordings: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Resident Evil 2, Black Mesa (Half-Life), The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Resident Evil 2 remake vs original IGN
The difference between a remake and the original version must be obvious // Source: IGN

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 largely overlap the two types of re-releases.

For example, the creation of new ones 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 look. Then it really is a re-recording if the executed code is actually an emulation of the original game.

Finally, some may wonder why we do not track the crucial criterion for the game engine used. If the new version uses a different game engine, then it’s a remake, right? Again, it’s not that simple. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is famous for being a gateway 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 version of Mass Effect rebalances and solves several problems from the original games. An effort that is often rather left to re-recordings.

Even Sony gets lost

Let’s go back to the matter The last of us. The situation is, to say the least, difficult to determine. It must be said that unlike The Last of Us: Remastered edition, Sony does not clearly state 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 would rather sell us a remake” completely rebuilt from scratch “.

Is The Last of Us Part 1 video game a remake or a remaster?
Is The Last of Us Part 1 video game a remake or a remaster?

So is The Last of us Part 1 for PlayStation 5, and soon PC, a remake or a remaster? According to us, it will actually be a remake of the first episode that was released in 2013. Here is what allows us to define it.

First, there is the visual difference between the remastered version on PS4 and the planned version on PS5. Yes, it can seem flimsy when we compare what The Last of Us Part 1 offers as a difference with its original, in light of remakes of games that sometimes skip several generations. Of course, there will be bigger differences between the remake of a PS1 game like Resident Evil 2 or Final Fantasy VII and their remake on PS4 than between a PS3 game remastered on PS4 and its PS5 remake. Especially since we’re talking about a game that already pushed the visuals and PS3 to its limits when it was first released.

The Last of Us Part 1 comparison
Recording version on the right // Source: Sony

The visual difference can be seen in the change in the modeling of the characters, modified to resemble their modeling in The Last of Us Part 2, but also in the surrounding environments, such as the furniture that has also been modified there. This involves creative work at each level of the game. Finally, pay attention to certain comparisons that you can find on the Internet between the two editions. The first section contained pre-rendered videos for some intermediate sequences. This no longer seems to be the case for The Last of Us Part 1, which benefits from real-time scenes.

If it were a simple remaster, Sony would most likely be able to release it on the PlayStation 4 and take advantage of the huge installed base of consoles. If the company decides not to do so and do without this source of revenue, 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 changed the gameplay of the game, and especially the enemies’ AI to offer a better experience. We’ll have to wait for the test to be sure, but it’s the kind of rewriting elements that lean towards the side of the remake.

To tighten the buckle

Whether rated as a remake or a remaster, The Last of Us Part 1 allows, no matter what happens, to introduce new players to a video game monument. It also allows you to align the title of the first episode with the second and maybe align their respective scenarios (we say no more). While waiting for the tests and release scheduled for September 2, 2022, each of the former fans will assess whether the level of work seems sufficient for them to return to the box office, or whether they will leave this release.

The Last Of Us Part 1 can be pre-ordered from 79.99 euros at Fnac.


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