There's a famous saying 'never meet your heroes', which I was incredibly aware of and worried about going in to this. For how much I absolutely love the OG TLOU I have never once replayed it (I don't usually replay games as you all may know) so whilst I was excited to go back to one of my favourite games of all time I was also a bit apprehensive at what I'd find once I got back into that world.
Thankfully, what I've encountered going back in and playing through it again has made me appreciate it all the more. It's kind of a strange juxtaposition though, a game that looks so current-gen and astounds you pretty much at every turn coupled with a game that is structurally made in the last throngs of the PS3 generation of systems. Back when I played it in 2013 I absolutely adored the combat, I tended to agree back then that Uncharted's gunplay was one of its downfalls but throughout TLOU I never had that issue and always loved the tense stealth gameplay during the clicker/runner sections and the somewhat Uncharted-esque segments where human foes are involved. All tied together in this gritty semi-realistic way, making you craft things out of bandages, scissors, alcohol, cloth and other rudimentary materials you find dotted about the many derelict abandoned buildings you come across.
So needless to say, the way it plays doesn't 100% hold up in 2022 which is a shame, TLOUPII just blows it out the water in that regard and ruins this somewhat as a result. That level of experimentation, problem solving and mobility to the combat segments in particular are just missing in this and after awhile you go into a pattern - particularly in the stealth segments - of carefully sneaking up to each enemy, strangling them all to clear out the room then moving onto the next room and sometimes doing the same thing again. I will say it does vary up the stealth segments with the human segments and the set pieces very well so you never get too much of one at the same time, but even so at the point I'm into the game now (just entered Fall) at 12 hours in the way it plays is a little more stale than I remember it ever being in the original. As for improvements, the animations are much improved along with the enemy AI who now flank like hawks (?) even on the 'moderate' difficulty I'm playing on, gunplay also feels tighter but because of my memory I can't notice too many differences from the original in terms of the combat and stealth segments.
I'm still absolutely besotted with it though, the story is as incredible as I remember it being, there's little nods in there to things that I don't ever remember being in there like a moment quite early into the game where Tess tells Joel to move on when Ellie enquires about Joel's past, likewise there's a poster in Pittsburgh of a Twilight-like romcom, Joel comments that it's the last film he saw before the Pandemic and Ellie says something like 'why would you go to that, it's for people my age' and Joel deflects the question and they both move on, with you, the player fully knowing why. It's still incredibly moving and I've cried twice so far with more heart-breaking moments to come. I never noticed it before but you can see Joel get more and more attached to Ellie as the game goes on, he has his guard up at the beginning and doesn't want to open up but the more time they spend together the more fond of her he gets which you can tell by some of his replies to certain things she says.
Should go without saying really but graphically it’s a real showpiece for the system. I think the lighting and reflections are perhaps the most impressive aspects but the level of facial detail in the characters along with the crazy detailed new textures in buildings, materials and everything else on your adventures.
I can't tell you how happy (maybe that's the wrong word? lol) it makes me feel to play this game again, like slipping into your favourite pair of old worn slippers first thing on a Winters day, it's just cosy. Going back to something you've got such vivid, fond memories of and it being every bit of the game you can remember and then some (well, mostly) is just such a nice feeling to have. I'm quite lucky too that my memory is so bad that I've forgotten vast swathes of the game, whole areas of Boston and Pittsburgh I'd completely forgotten, the whole opening chapter with Tess I hardly remembered at all either.
So yeah, sometimes it's great to meet your heroes and hang out with them again.