With the rerelease of The Last of Us on the PS4, the folks at BradyGames are in an interesting position. On the one hand, the base game is fundamentally the same, so how do you create a strategy guide that players will find useful? If someone already has the guide for the PS3 version of the title, is there value in picking up the new version for The Last of Us: Remastered? Unfortunately, just like in the post-infection landscape Joel and Ellie find themselves roaming, there are no easy answers.
The Last of Us: Remastered strategy guide starts off with some basic gameplay info and survival tips, which makes it invaluable for newcomers but less so for returning vets. The section covers important gameplay elements like scavenging parts and items for weapon upgrades and crafting, as well as a breakdown of the various enemy types and the weapons you’ll be using to stay alive. If this is your first foray outside the Quarantine Zone then this section is chock full of important intel. However, for those who have braved the infected-strewn landscape before there’s nothing really important to see here. The only thing which seasoned players might reference are the tables laying out how much it costs to upgrade the various weapons in various ways so they can easily plan which improvements they want to go for first or if they need to save up for a while to get a critical upgrade for a favored gun.
The guide then transitions into the single-player walkthrough, providing not only general navigation info, but also combat tips and collectible locations. What’s nice about the layout is that each section and set piece is given its own map and walkthrough, so you won’t have to flip back several pages in order to find critical info. What’s less impressive is that sometimes the info is ordered strangely, and missable collectibles and moments aren’t mentioned until after you’ve already passed them.
For instance, in order to get the “That’s All I’ve Got” trophy you have to listen to all of Ellie’s jokes, which only trigger in specific situations. The first of these comes as you get ready to transition from one part of a map to another, right before you climb over an obstacle. The strategy guide will tell you to go ahead and move to the next part of the map, but immediately after will mention that you need to stand in a specific, now inaccessible, area to get Ellie to tell her joke. At this point you’ve already missed your opportunity, and have to reload an earlier save (if you thought to create a manual save at a seemingly arbitrary point) or, much worse and more likely, restart the entire chapter in order to get the event to trigger. Frustratingly, this isn’t the only time in the game when something like this happens, and I found myself missing key collectibles and items because I didn’t read ahead, which you shouldn’t be expected to do in a step-by-step guide.
I also found the combat tips rather hit-or-miss, as the guide is useful when dealing with 2-3 foes, but often falls apart when facing larger groups. The guide assumes you’re favoring a stealthy strategy, which is good considering the relative scarcity of ammo. While you often get specific info on how to eliminate the first couple foes in a group, info on taking out the rest can be vague and unhelpful.
An example, early in the game Joel finds himself in an office building facing a large infected presence, including your first run-in with a very dangerous Clicker. Seeing as it’s early in the game you have little in the way of ammo and no character upgrades, and I’ve always found it to be one of the more challenging battles consider Clickers can kill you instantly if they manage to grab you. The strategy guide provides solid advice on taking out one enemy without being seen, as well as choking out a second. After that though you’re simply told to find some way to finish off the two remaining lesser infected before attacking the Clicker. The thing is, the last 3 enemies are grouped together, and it’s nearly impossible to lure one of them away without also alerting the others. Every time I played this section, even with the guide at hand, the encounter ended with me frantically sprinting around the floor trying to get enough space to reload my gun and shoot the now-alerted foes as they gave pursuit. Similar scenarios played out in other tense situations, and every time I left the fight injured, low on ammo and frustrated by a lack of specific instruction.
One upside to the single-player portion of the guide is that it includes all the DLC missions (which come packed in with the Remastered edition), so you have a full rundown of how to survive the bonus content as well. These stages get the same treatment as the primary single-player campaign, so there are plenty of maps and item callouts. Again, there are shortcomings here. Some enemy encounter strategies are frustratingly vague, and you may once again miss optional collectibles or moments because the guide doesn’t mention them until you’ve moved on.
While the single-player portion of the guide can be spotty, it shines when it comes to the multiplayer. The Factions mode provides a unique twist on traditional competitive multiplayer, and the guide does a great job explaining how it works, its objectives and the events that come up as you play. Factions can be a fairly dense mode and if you don’t understand the metagame you may find yourself winning battles but losing the war. If you’re following the guide though you should be able to cook up a solid strategy to keep your allies alive and survive long enough to “win” the mode.
Accompanying the great overall info is a full breakdown of all the maps and what strategies are most likely to be effective. It’s easily to quickly reference the guide with the map you’re about to play and then tweak your loadout into something that best suits the environment. You’re also given numerous weapon and perk combinations to fit various gameplay styles, so you should be able to find the optimal loadout for whatever class of character you prefer.
As great as The Last of Us: Remastered is, the guide can’t live up to the lofty bar the game itself has set. While the multiplayer portion is exceptionally helpful, the single-player sections are unimpressive. Also, this is a very bare-bones book, with no additional artwork, developer interviews or added content beyond walkthroughs and strategies. While you can debate the usefulness of such things in a book that is first and foremost supposed to be about helping you beat a game, considering this is a title that’s already been released once – and that a large portion of the userbase has already played – you need something more to hook people’s attention. Even some general tips on how to take a great screenshot in Photo Mode would have been worthwhile.
The Last of Us: Remastered strategy guide serves its intended purpose, but doesn’t really find a way to shine. It’s that coworker at the office who does enough to not get fired and be generally reliable, but never sticks their neck out and tries something noteworthy or unique. You may find the guide useful for a few particularly tricky encounters or nabbing all the extra loot, but it’s not one you’ll proudly display on your shelf.
SGR Rating: 3/5
Author: Michael Owen
Editions available: Paperback
Acquired via publisher