Jimmy has joined NCP as our official Video Game Reviewer and we are all very excited to have someone with his talents and gamer knowledge become a part of the team. And I know that after experiencing his thoughtful reviews you will be too.
Now, on with the review!
The Last of Us is one of my favourite third person shooters and quite possibly one the greatest releases for the PS3. In that award winning game we followed our protagonists, Joel, and Ellie as they struggled to deliver Ellie to a lab run by a mysterious militant group known as the Fireflies in order to create a vaccine to the mutated strain of Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis that has decimated humanity. Their journey will take them through a post pandemic United States, however it is known that the infected are not the only predators in this new world.
The new DLC Left Behind takes place during the point in the game where – SPOILER – Joel is gravely injured whilst both he and Ellie trying to escape. Once they have found refuge, and left with no medical supplies, Ellie must leave Joel to search for them. It is during her solo journey that she finds herself reflecting on the paths she has walked down which have gotten her into this situation in the first place.
in my opinion, the delivery of this duel story is flawless. By switching between Ellie’s journey to find medical supplies for Joel; to when she was suddenly awoken by a friend of hers whom she thought would never return, her thoughts and feelings are perfectly represented, not only by the acting performance of Ashley Johnson as Ellie, but also by wonderfully realised environments, including the ability to interact with photo booths, the merry-go-round, and a Halloween themed store. It also uses a stimulating and entertaining selection of mini games, such as throwing bricks at car windows or using pump action water guns to drench your opponent, which also contribute to the story.
Unlike some other games I have encountered with story based add-ons, the storytelling in this short but wonderful DLC did not fall short even after my experience with the main story; which as a result always kept me on edge for more emotional turmoil. And seeing how the writers at developer Naughty Dog structured the progression of the story, from jumping between one character to the next, you can tell that this is exactly what they had in mind.
The environment during the post game story was also phenomenal; it really submerged you in a sense of wonder. Even wonder in something which seems so mundane to us pre-pandemic humans as a shopping mall. Adding some very cute features like the photo booth scene, where the two adolescent girls are pulling foolish faces and for just one moment forgetting about the harsh and ugly new world they had been born into was a great touch. After discovering that the photos themselves could not be printed, the game asked if I would like to share these photos on Facebook. Although the in-game characters ask “What’s a Facebook?”, had I chosen to allow the game to access my Facebook account prior to starting the game, these photos would have been shared on my personal Wall. Another part I personally found quite entertaining was exploring the little Halloween store, donning the cliché Halloween masks, such as a werewolf, an old witch and even some in-game fictional characters really brought forward some humour in an otherwise frightening and desperate world.
Now, I’m definitely one for in-game combat, especially one so good as The Last of Us, but I found the combat in the DLC to be quite predictable. Although controlling only Ellie does add that extra bit of difficulty and apprehension, as the stats and weapon proficiency upgrades that you had obtained from playing as Joel are not carried over. So, instead of fighting with brute force (which is rarely the right way to play in this game) it is better to simply fight with brains and stealth, especially considering the majority of the enemies will search via sound rather than sight. On a number of occasions all I needed to do was simply throw a bottle to draw the enemies into one spot, then throw a grenade nearby, to which most, if not all, the infected would run to. From there it’s was as easy as 1-2-BOOM! And game, set and match!
To contribute to the difficulty and keep you on your toes, the game does keep supplies limited, and will throw some human hunters into the mix, so that a tried and true tactic you may have used on the infected will not necessarily always work. But I do see that the focus of Left Behind was more-so based on Ellie’s back story and personal regrets, than killing a whole bunch of infected, so that said, I can let this small itch pass for such an otherwise fantastic back story.
All in all I have found the first, and reportedly last, of the story DLC for this game to be a great addition to an already powerful story, giving you that sense of that loss at that pillar of strength that you get from walking around as Joel, to controlling the tough yet fragile Ellie which was also briefly visited in the main story. This game has truly wonderful graphics, sound scapes and storytelling, and I would highly recommend this addition to those who have, and even have not yet played the main story.