Posted on March 5, 2014 AT 08:43am
The perfect formula for DLC is a particularly hard one to nail down. Diving back into the main story of the game is difficult if it’s already been wrapped up, but creating something completely new may not feelt rue enough to the original game. This balance, though difficult to achieve, is not impossible and can result in a great way to revisit the worlds of our favorite games for a short time. Naughty Dog hit the bullseye with their DLC The Last of US: Left Behind by taking us back and providing a bit more context for some things described during the main story. Please make sure you’ve played The Last of Us before reading this review as there will be spoilers for the main campaign ahead.
Going into a movie like Titanic can be a bit unnerving, because you’re sitting there watching a story unfold knowing exactly what tragedy is about to occur. This same concept applies for Left Behind as it goes into the events that led to Ellie becoming infected with her friend Riley. Though you do have this information at the outset, the focus of this story really goes more into the relationship between Riley and Ellie, which give you quite a bit more insight into who Ellie was before the main game began.
Playing through this DLC, it’s still hard to belive how amazing this game looks on the PS3. Once you’re in the game, much like all of Naughty Dog’s other PS3 games, there are no additional load times. The characters on screen look realistic and the environments have that level of leafy grit found in the main game that make it look amazing. One scene in particular takes great advantage of the performance capture to some endearing, and even comedic, effect.
If you’ve already played The Last of Us, which I implore that you do before even considering playing this content, picking back up the controls feels natural, even if you’ve been away for a while.What really impressed me with Left Behind however, was what they did to use mechanics build into the game for things you might not expect. I won’t go into much more detail so I don’t ruin any surprises, but it’s very clever and adds a tremendous amount to both the emotion of the scene and the fun of playing through it.
Left Behind takes place largely in two different time periods: before the game begins and around the middle of the game when Joel gets impaled by the rod. The latter follows Ellies as she searches for medical supplies to heal Joel and plays much like the main game, having you take on both live people and infected. One mechanic they play with here that wasn’t explored nearly enough in the original was having both sorts of encounters, human and infected, simultaneously. This lets you pit the infected and hunters against one another so they can whittle themselves down to a more managable group and it was satisfying to sick the infected on the scumbags trying to hunt you down. The other part of the game focuses on Ellie and Riley exploring an abandoned mall and I’d rathernot explain much more so I don’t ruin the surprises that section has in store for you.
The content is relatively short, I finished the whole thing in around 2 hours on Normal, but it feels like exactly the right length for what it needed to be. It also adds some new trophies and collectibles, so there is plenty to go back for if you enjoy that kind of thing. The writing and performances from Ellie and Riley are out of the park and do a great job of sucking you in and not letting go until the end. This is certainly one game that didn’t feel like it needed any more, but they pulled it off by cleverly providing more information on discussed events from the main campaign.
Rarely has downloadable content done such a good job of giving me one last taste of game to such great effect. It offers up just enough gameplay and story to make you feel like you were in that world once again and satisfies that itch for more The Last of Us action. If you enjoyed the main game, this one is well worth your time even if it’s a bit short.
Overall Score: 9.5 (out of 10)
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