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 The Last of Us: Left Behind

Game review by Nic Brown

 

In 2013, Sony released a new game exclusively for the PS3 system. On the surface “The Last of Us” was a fairly standard “post-apocalypse-infected-humans-mission based shooter” like many before it. However, the game stood out, not so much because of its graphics, which were extremely good, or for the game play itself, which was challenging and enjoyable, but again similar to other entries in the genre. What made “The Last of Us” a truly unique and outstanding gaming experience was the story. Now the folks at Naughty Dog Games who made the original have released a supplemental downloadable game addition called “The Last of Us: Left Behind”.  

 

Set during the action of the first game, “The Last of Us: Left Behind” follows what happened to Ellie after Joel was gravely wounded during an attack, not by infected humans, but by a ruthless gang of survivors they encountered during the second quarter of the original game. The supplement itself is split into two mission/story arcs. The first follows Ellie as she tries to find the supplies she needs to treat Joel’s wounds while avoiding the infected and other obstacles. The second story is a flashback to before Ellie met Joel, showing her with her best friend Riley.

 

The first story arc involves a lot of the standard game play style seen in the original game as Ellie finds refuge in an abandoned mall and then makes her way through it looking for the supplies she needs to suture Joel’s wound shut. Her initial stock of weapons and items for crafting weapons and health kits is limited to a gun with no bullets and one health kit, so as the player explores, they also have to be vigilant to find supplies for game play

use as well as to treat Joel.

The abandoned mall location is typical of the well designed settings for “The Last of Us” and careful attention to notes and recordings found during exploration will even reveal the story of an Army chopper crew that crashed into the mall during the dark days early in the infection. This section of the story involves a lot of sneaking around since Ellie starts off poorly armed and has to deal with finding solutions to problems encountered in the environment, avoiding the infected and later dealing with both infected and the human gang that attacked them during regular game play.

 

The second story arc is different. This one mostly plays out with Ellie interacting with Riley, and through that interaction we learn a lot more about Ellie’s life before the game play starts in “The Last of Us”. We also discover the depth of Ellie’s friendship with Riley and it helps us understand more of the complexities in the relationship between her and Joel and how it develops.

 

Game play in the flashback arc mostly involves wandering through another mall, this one back in the Boston safe zone where Ellie was raised. She and Riley explore, play games, read jokes and the player is responsible for guiding Ellie through these activities as well as things like water gun fights and throwing bricks at abandoned cars. Eventually this segment takes a darker turn as players know it will from the story in the original game. That dark turn, even though players are expecting it, is a well written and emotionally charged part of the game.

The two arcs alternate back-and-forth breaking up the more challenging standard play of the first arc with the non-standard play of the second. Again though, it is truly the story of “The Last of Us: Left Behind” that makes the supplemental part work so well. While this is a game and is based around the players completing tasks, solving problems and fighting or avoiding enemies, “The Last of Us: Left Behind” like its parent game, really feels more like a cinematic experience as you play not just for the fun of the shooting and challenges of the enemies and puzzles, but you play to advance the story and learn what happens next.

 

“The Last of Us: Left Behind” is a short game supplement which can be run through in a few hours, longer if you spend time following the sub-plots and looking closely for collectables. Don’t expect a full-length gaming experience like the original. This is more of a single chapter to that story. However, the downloadable content is priced reasonably for what it is and players who loved the original will find “The Last of Us: Left Behind” to be well worth the time and investment. So check out “The Last of Us: Left Behind” and when you do, take your time with it. There is a lot of good play story content in this relatively short game add-on and you don’t want to find yourself left behind by not exploring it to its fullest. 




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