The Last Of Us: Left Behind
Developer: Naughty Dog
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Basically: Two to three hours more of only the best parts of one of the greatest games for the PS3, and a revolution for DLCs, full stop.
Graphics: Like the full campaign, jaw-dropping.
Gameplay: The few fighting sequences there are range from cake walks to a fairly decent challenge, but moving within the story is more than engaging enough.
Reason To Cop It: You played The Last of Us and want more.
Reason to Not Cop It: You didn't appreciate The Last of Us for the greatness that it is. You really, really, really don't have $15 to spare. Or you haven't played The Last of Us yet.
Bottom Line: One of the greatest games you'll ever play gets better, and compliments the original game in a way no DLC that's come before it has, too. Is it short? Sure. Is $15 steep for a DLC? Maybe at the moment. But if this is the future of DLC, we're gonna pay up.
It's finally here.
After months of waiting, Naughty Dog has yielded The Last of Us: Left Behind, a single-player DLC in which you take on playing as Ellie, in what amounts to both a prequel to the original game as well as a fill-in to what happened during some previously untold moments in primary storyline.
You've probably heard that it's too short. Or too short to pay $15, anyway. But the truth of the matter is that it's a small price to pay to not just extend one of the greatest gaming experiences the PS3—or any console, of any generation, really—has ever produced, but it contributes to it more, bringing further depth and meaning and profundity to what the original had going for it as well.
Players take on the role of Ellie, post-zombie-apocalypse, but pre-Joel: She's stuck in a military school, and her long gone best friend suddenly shows up for a visit. Together the two explore Boston, fight off a few clickers, and build layer upon layer of character depth, which adds to the narrative bedrock of the original game's narrative experience.
Look, we're not gonna ruin anything, and we hate spoilers. But we'll say this: It's not a sequel, and it doesn't leave the door open for another Last Of Us game (thank god). But it ain't just a prequel, either. And while there aren't too many combat sequences in the DLC, was the original game great because of the combat? Kinda. Maybe. But it really shined above everything that came before it in the storytelling, which is in sixth gear, here. Naughty Dog genuinely outdid themselves. The voice-acting, the soundtrack, the graphics, the level mapping: It all seems better, maybe because the developers were already so familiar with what worked in the original game, and also, apparently, responsive to what they eventually realized was great about it. It's the anti-Uncharted. It's also the greatest thing to happen to DLC maybe ever. The $15 price point will get harped upon again and again, but the fact of the matter is: We pay too much for shitty games. We're expected to pay $65 to shell out for a new Madden every year. Or a new Call of Duty. Or even a new Gears of War. And then we're expected to shell out for a bunch of new maps.
And every year, they're all, fundamentally, the same game. And where they could improve on themselves, they don't. There's no innovation. There's barely any legitimate responsiveness to what gamers love or hate about these game, because they know people will buy them.
Naughty Dog took a real risk in making a smaller, high-quality product, and the economics of raising the bar for what our money is worth (rather than keeping it low because of what we, gamers, are expected to do with our money) works out better for everyone in the end. If you need help in making the arguement for this, we're talking about the difference between five Big Macs and a plate of brilliantly cooked food that changes the way you taste things.
In the end, yes, it's short. Yes, some people may still have unanswered questions (they always do). But as it moves into the pantheon of great DLCs and new highs for video games, and ends its saga here, The Last of Us: Left Behind will ultimately sate anyone who played and enjoyed the original in the best way possible: Leaving you not behind, but sated enough, and always wanting more.