Tuesday, February 18, 2014

(The Last of Us) Left Behind (DLC, PS3) Review

(Note: Left Behind recommends having had completed the campaign of The Last of Us before starting Left Behind, as such, assume the same here.)

Just a quick note. It took Naughty Dog - the developers - until the PS3 was nearly dead, and on gamer's shelves, to publish a single player DLC for one of there games. This speaks to how special Left Behind is. It is not a last minute cash grab or a Capcom like locking out of content on the disc. This is a story that came to light after finishing the main title and talking and deciding, this is a story worth telling.

Playing as Ellie pre-Joel does feel a little bit different than Ellie in the actual campaign. Ellie seems to have a bit more jump to her walk and seemingly more joy. Sure, the world she lives in still sucks, but having been bought up in this what day really turns bad? Every is just another depraved mess.

Ellie is lying in bed when she hears a quiet but crunchy howling, hissing, or an applicable noise for what one living in an apocalyptic world would take to be for an infected. But hey, it's this girl Riley.

Riley was mentioned in the main campaign and is featured in the comic story 'American Dreams' along with Ellie. Riley is the firefly to ignite the life into Ellie. Ellie is as a lot of people describe today an 'emo kid,' but you really can't question it, living in the apocalypse and all that. So to the Ellie yin there is the Riley yang, the fun one; Riley barley seems down and is a rather optimistic soul. Riley as Ellie is very mature for her age, though I have come to take this as an affect of growing up in this world.

Now wanting to spoil a miniscule detail of the story - I wont. It is sweet, sad, funny and provoking. It's everything I could have hoped for in an expansion for one of the best stories in games ever. At $15, Left Behind does seem on the pricey side though and for just a couple hours of gameplay. However, it is worth every dollar.

Left Behind features the same combat as the main campaign. You can combine stuff to make bombs and health packs and once again it is all in real time. Ellie is however a lot weaker than Joel. In comparison Joel feels like something of a tank, he tackles enemy's head on and is able to handle several at the same time. Ellie has a small pocket knife at her disposal and even with that it will take several hard stabs and swipes to take down a single infected. Your best bet is to sneak as much as possible and be stealthy.

A new feature to the combat now is the ability to pit infected against human. You can throw a brick or a bottle and lead the two into an engagement that in the end is beneficial for you and makes escaping sticky scenarios a frantic mess. If ever Naughty Dog was to decide to port The Last of Us to PS4 - ala Tomb Raider - I would hope for this feature to be integrated, especially precedent over brand new hair textures.

So, the combat is great, the story is amazing, whats wrong with Left Behind? Oddly it's the combat and it's in a spoilt rich kid kind of fashion. The combat simply didn't feel necessary at all here. Exploration and conversation and the general experience this story gives was just so grand that when presented with, yes, a well executed combat scenario it was off-putting. The argument obviously is that if where not doing any sort of combat where is the 'game?' But I'm the guy that said 'Gone Home' was his second favorite game of 2013 and as such obviously, I am all for explorative only focused gameplay.

Left Behind is a powerful story and serves to remind why Naughty Dog is one of the best studios around. I truly hope they decide it is worth telling more stories in this world and follow up with a sequel. Especially if this serves as an experimentative piece of content to judge how it's received. It's great guys!  

+ Emotional Story
+ Characterization 
+ Exploring The World
- Combat is Dismissive

Overall: 9.5

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