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Review: The Last of Us: Left Behind

Editor’s note: There are aspects of this review that could be considered spoiler-ish. If you haven’t played The Last of Us, but plan to in the future, you may want to steer clear of this review and come back to it once you’ve finished the original game.

You’ll have to imagine my wistful sigh here as I start off by saying: you know, when the last generation of consoles showed up with their proper online support, I expected great things from the whole DLC concept.

But what we got, mostly, were pathetic little weapon packs, skins and multiplayer maps, released online at the same time as the game’s launch to tease a few more pennies out of those who didn’t pre-order. Blatant money-spinning instead of attempts to create fresh, new content after-the-fact for players who really enjoyed their game and wanted more.

Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PS3
Website: thelastofus.playstation.com

At least the PS3’s selection of DLC gets to wind down on a high note, because the add-on for The Last of Us, the incredible survival adventure of last year, is exactly what I had always hoped DLC would be. It’s entitled Left Behind, and it takes place during the section of the main game in which Joel falls from a balcony at the university and is impaled on a rebar rod. Remember that? I can’t believe enough time has passed that I actually have to ask. If this had been a different game, the DLC would have been developed alongside the main game and released a week later online just to screw us.

It begins after Ellie hides Joel in a shop in an abandoned mall while she searches for medical supplies to stitch him up. And, of course, the mall turns out to have a few infected running around – and as if that’s not bad enough, the bandits are still butthurt about Ellie and Joel kicking their asses at the university and have followed them.

Like before, Ellie must make calculated use of her limited weapons and employ stealth to deal with the infected and the bandits. Something this add-on does, which I don’t recall happening in the main game, is that it gives Ellie the chance to pit the two types of enemies against each other – which is both useful and hilarious. It also leads to some of the most organic and unpredictable combat scenarios I’ve experienced in any game.

Several times during her mission, Ellie will zone out and remember an ill-fated adventure she shared with her best friend Riley. These playable flashbacks comprise the other half of the game, and they’re enthralling. The girls break into a seemingly-abandoned mall to dick around for few hours, throwing bricks at cars, playing with long-abandoned merchandise in shops and discussing life in general. You get the sense something is boiling over under the lid between them, as both girls struggle to find ways to say what they want to say to each other. These flashbacks also explain how Ellie learned she was immune to infection, which – I may have to remind you, because it’s actually been a while since the game was released – is the driving plot element of the main game.

The only real drawback here is that the whole package is quite short, but because it was produced with such ambition and detail, I can look past that. Some of the encounters are great fun too, and very challenging on the higher difficulty settings. And it gave me a taste of DLC the way I always wanted it to be, and for that, I gladly paid the R120.

  • Alex Rowley

    Naughty Dog is amazing at telling stories through games. They are freaking depressing ones though…

    • Matthew Vice

      True that. I do hope we see at least one more game in The Last of Us. I wouldn’t mind seeing what Joel and Ellie get themselves into next.

      Seems to me that the situation isn’t all that hopeless. The humans just need to hole up and wait for the infected all to die – which they clearly do, eventually. Might take a while.

      • Alex Rowley

        There’s definitely room for more Joel and Ellie, especially how the first one ended and the whole “It wasn’t for nothing” lie. I wouldn’t mind a game just being set in that same universe either though, like what did Joel’s brother get up to during the massive time skip after the beginning?

        • Matthew Vice

          Yeah. Just about anything set in that world is something I’d play.

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