|INSTALL||5.2 GB Download|
|RELEASE DATE||February 14, 2014|
|PUBLISHER||Sony Computer Entertainment|
If you haven’t played through all of The Last of Us yet – do so before you start Left Behind, as it has some rather late-game spoilers in it. The story of Left Behind takes place after the events that occurred at the University, and before the Lakeside Resort.
There are actually two stories going on here – the current story with Ellie and Joel and what she has to go through to protect him after the events of the University, but also the story of Ellie and her best friend Riley and what happened to them before Ellie meets Joel.
Like The Last of Us proper, Left Behind is a well written, exquisitely performed tale, though much more lighthearted. That doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and puppies – the game is still dark, it’s still depressing – but the segments with Riley and Ellie are much calmer and more “playful” than those featuring Ellie on her own, barring the couple of tense moments later on.
Overall, Naughty Dog has crafted a 2-3 hour tale that manages to fit well within the world they created and stands up to the bar set by the original game. It’s clear they put just as much love into this as they did the main game.
Not much has really changed from the main game. The controls are exactly the same, and the overall goal is the same as well.
That said, Left Behind does bring a new mechanic into the mix – the ability to pit Infected and Survivors against each other. Toss a brick/bottle or fire a shot off to the side to draw the infected’s attention to the other humans instead of you, and pick off stragglers from the safety of cover. This is by far the best part of Left Behind – and I really, really wish this feature were in the main game.
As far as overall gameplay – Ellie is a much more vulnerable character than Joel – not because she’s a small girl, but because she just doesn’t have the same experience that Joel acquired over his 20+ year career of staying alive in this world.
The game does a good job of making you feel weak. For a while, you’re only equipped with a switchblade and a pistol with very limited ammo. You don’t get any truly decent weapons until the DLC is almost over. You’ll have to rely on your wits more than brute strength this time around. Ellie has a melee attack – but it’s hardly effective and will likely only result in you being killed if you try to rush in.
It’s much better to try and stealth kill, or avoid combat all together. Use the new faction mechanic to your advantage to thin the herd and sneak around, completely undetected – or pick off the remaining, weakened enemies.
The parts with Ellie and Riley have much more of an emphasis on exploration – there’s no real combat in these sections and they really only serve to give you more insight into these characters.
One thing I loved about these moments, were the “mini-games” that really let you get a glimpse of the kind of kids Riley and Ellie are. I mean, these are two tomboy-ish, teenage girls exploring a mall. I won’t really spoil them here – suffice to say that they were a lot of fun to go through, unlike mini-games/QTEs in a lot of other games.
There really isn’t much to say here – it looks identical to the main game, which was already beautiful to start with. I did love the lighting within the Boston mall that Riley and Ellie are exploring – especially the reflections in the water near the carousel.
That said, like the main game, there were some visual “quirks” that I noticed. I’ve seen Ellie wig out a bit for no real reason when dropping from a ledge. I also noticed a glitch that caused a gas canister to vanish from Ellie’s hand and appear on her back during a later portion of the game.
These were minor issues to be sure – and none of them are gamebreaking, but they did break immersion just a bit.
At $15, it may seem a bit much for something that lasts only 2-3 hours for a first playthrough – but this is so very well done, and matches the quality of the work put into the main game that the price is more than fair.
If you loved The Last of Us at all, and want to see more of the story and get a better understanding of Ellie’s character – it’s worth it to buy this. If you enjoyed The Last of Us‘ multiplayer, I’d recommend the Season Pass for $20 instead of buying Left Behind stand-alone. It’s a much better deal as it comes with a lot of extra stuff for customizing your online character, as well as the map packs that have been and will be released.
For you trophy hunters – this is much, much easier than the main game. There are collectibles, but not too many. Survivor difficulty is also much easier this time around, due to there not being as much combat – though there will be some tricky parts.
All in all, Left Behind is a resounding “buy” in my book.