The Last of Us remake was once again criticized ahead of its October release, with a Tweeter from developer Robert Morrison is going viral and catching the attention of fans and outlets around the world. Morrison hit back at claims that the project is little more than a cash grab from Sony and Naughty Dog, praising it as one of the most “meticulously crafted” games he’s ever worked on, offering a quality, animation and know-how that few supports can match. I don’t doubt it in the slightest, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the remake even sets a new benchmark for the studio going forward. But Morrison misses the point.
Remakes and remasters are money grabs by design. The original game was successful enough to sell millions of copies or at least warrant some sort of cult following that saw it garner enough support internally or externally to be reborn. Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon had their trilogies remastered when Activision saw the potential to bring back two now nostalgia-defined platforming icons, while smaller properties like The Wonderful 101 and Ty The Tasmanian Tiger were brought to life by companies asking fans to help fund the production. and make their return possible in the first place.
The Last of Us Remake being a cash grab isn’t the problem, rather it’s a consequence of its existence in the first place. We buy remakes and remasters because we love the original games and want to see them updated with improved visuals and gameplay changes. That’s the problem – Naughty Dog hasn’t shown us anything to justify this remake beyond its visuals and animation. Joel and Ellie’s return is said to be the most ambitious thing the studio has ever done, but we haven’t seen enough of it. We keep hearing that the technology that exists today can execute TLOU’s original vision, but we’re two months away from launch and haven’t seen any gameplay footage. If this were any other game, alarm bells would be ringing everywhere.
Although it’s aged a bit in the roughly nine years since its release, The Last of Us is still an incredible game that’s still readily available on multiple platforms. Its approach to storytelling defined the previous generation, with developers around the world opting for a more mature and evocative approach to human emotion that reflected where the industry was going. Yet once launched, new management has now doomed them to stagnation, and instead of going into production on a new game after the success of The Last of Us Part 2 (Factions doesn’t count as it’s in same universe, and Naughty Dog isn’t even going to talk about it until 2023), instead we see one of the best studios out there returning to an already beloved project and promising a slew of improvements that we won’t haven’t even seen it yet.
I think a remake can fundamentally improve on what came before, but Sony needs to show us the proof in the pudding if it wants fans to stop calling the remake a money grab. Post a trailer, or even just a brief gameplay snippet showcasing a fight sequence and that’s all we’ll need. How did combat translate into this new engine? Has the level design changed to accommodate such a thing? How gray is Joel’s beard? These are all simple questions with simple answers, but the elusive behavior of Sony and Naughty Dog has created an issue where only the answers regarding Joel’s beard are known.
Developers have a right to be defensive online about their work, even if it’s a remake of a game so beloved that few can match its standing in gaming culture. worked hard on this thing, making it look and play beautifully for months for the reveal to take place as fans rack up their efforts. It’s easy to take this personally, but the reality is that our anger doesn’t sit with individuals, and never has, it lies with Sony and how it has perpetuated a distinct lack of creativity at the within its own library due to the pursuit of blockbuster prestige. The Last of Us, Days Gone, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Ghost of Tsushima are all pretty similar games on a distant level, and it seems the winning formula is starting to give way to indifference. A remake of the game that started it all turned out to be too much.
I also don’t know why Neil Druckmann and his cavalcade of underlings decided to stay so tight-lipped about the remake. It’s The Last of Us – we know what it looks like, how it plays, and how the whole story is going to unfold because it’s been passed down to us so many times. The time for secrets has passed, so when the reveal trailer chose to focus exclusively on cutscenes instead of gameplay, it only raised new suspicions, and whatever this game turned out to be was either useless or afraid to show up. Our suspicions were immediately vindicated, and in the weeks that followed, nothing was done to clear the air.
The Last of Us remake is a cash grab. It’s obvious and I don’t think it’s harmful to say such a thing. The blame lies with Naughty Dog and Sony’s silent treatment of the whole affair, and the way its biggest remaining calendar title is treated as some form of mystery epic when it’s already been billed as a faithful remake. of a game that I replayed. many times I can remember almost all the events in my head. I don’t care what easy profits this remake will generate, I care if it can justify its existence in the first place. Right now I’m on the fence, but I really shouldn’t need to be.
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