How do you top Naughty Dog's The Last of Us? A game which has won numerous awards and tugged at my heart strings more than any other title in my memory. How do you top The Last of Us? You don't, you just add to it instead.
Naughty Dog has done just that with the stunning Left Behind, an add-on campaign that is short, but so very sweet. Left Behind is a prologue to the events of the original game, bringing us an insight into the life of Ellie before and up to the moment she met Joel. This story takes us through her friendship with another new character, Riley, someone who helps shape the person she goes on to become.
The main setting for Left Behind is a Shopping Centre (or mall as its known in America). It's an interesting setting in that the girls are able to explore without much danger, allowing us to learn of their backstory as they bond and have fun without the pressures of being chased down by the infected. To begin with it's an interesting take on the game, being able to explore without the worry of Ellie's neck being ripped to shreds is certainly welcome. It's also nice to watch the story play out, thanks in part to the excellent script and voice work carried out by the actors, in addition to the stunning presentation which carries over from the main game.
It's not all fun in the mall though as the game also switches to show Ellie at a later date, as she hunts through a now decimated Mall in order to find aid for the injured Joel. Here Ellie is a lot more vulnerable, no longer is she able to rely on Joel to take down the infected, she has to do it herself, often becoming overwhelmed in the process.
Combat is certainly interesting in this respect. Ellie is hardly a powerhouse, sure she can sneak around and take infected down with her trusty switchblade, but often things feel more frantic and worrisome, as you try to make use of Ellie's limited bullets or try to craft some bottles, bricks or Molotov cocktails at the infected in order to weaken them enough to take them down. It's not just infected to worry about either, as there are also human survivors to deal with later in the experience, although I don't want to give too much away, hence the shorter form of this review.
Perhaps the best part of Left Behind is that it's full of just as many surprises as The Last of Us. Not a moment goes by when you are not wondering what's around the next corner. It's a wonderful story and a fantastic addition to what is already a wonderful game. It's just a pity that we won't be seeing any more, well for now anyway.
Left Behind is the way DLC should be done. It's memorable, exciting and looks as amazing as a game on PS3 possibly could. Sure the full experience is only around two-three hours long, however it's full of adventure, collectables for you to find and of course, a whole new set of trophies. Left Behind is quite expensive as far as add-on's go, however in my opinion it's worth every penny.
Words by Joe Anderson
_@wotta | PSN: wotta / XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: PS3)
+ More of the same
+ A wonderful story
+ Plenty of surprises
+ Wonderful presentation
+ Great Acting