• Far Beyond My Capacity
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  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Last of Us: Left Behind

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I got you to hold my hand
I got you to understand
I got you to walk with me
And I got you to talk with me 

I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you, hold me tight
I got you, I won't let go
I got you to love me so 
I Got You Babe - Etta James

Left Behind is the only narrative DLC expansion for my favourite game of 2013. It manages to do one of those things that many game sequels fail to achieve - it actually improves and deepens the experience of having played the main game, and it does so whilst improving on the mechanics of the original. There will be spoilers below, especially for those of you who haven't played through The Last of Us yet.


The DLC is played over two separate timelines, flitting between the two at suitable points. We start shortly after Joel is badly wounded, at the end of the Fall chapter of the main game. Instead of that evil jump cut of several days we get in the main game (I remember spending an hour playing the original at that point and all I could think about was whether Joel was alive), we actually get to see what Ellie did to save Joel's life. More importantly we finally get to fully understand why Ellie needs Joel as much as he ends up needing her.

Ellie has managed to drag Joel into an abandoned shopping mall, and has to find the medicines she needs to save him, all the while avoiding infected and hunting parties sent out by David. This plays through as an extended session of the main game, with the added fun of being able to lure infected into groups of hunters, allowing them to fight each other whilst you pick off the survivors. It manages to keep all the intensity of the main game, but adds an extra layer of strategy.

The combat and stealth are as fluid as ever, and you never feel like Ellie is anything other than a smart, desperate, fourteen year old girl. You certainly can't go all Rambo on your opponents and hope to survive.


At various points through this tale we flash back to a time a couple of weeks before the main game begins. Ellie sneaks out of military school with her best friend Riley, for an evening of fun in an old, abandoned shopping mall. It's here that the storytelling really hits the mark, as the history and relationship between the two girls unfolds. That their relationship is often revealed through gameplay rather than exposition is a brilliant touch.

There's a lot of imagination on display in this section of the dlc. There is virtually no combat, but still plenty of game elements as the girls explore the wonderland of the old mall. Many of them, such as the fun in the photo booth or the supersoaker fight, are really memorable. One of my favourites was the section where you play an old arcade game entirely through the imagination of one of the characters. It is simply brilliantly done, and I could almost see the characters fighting and interacting myself. I was imagining what a game character was imagining, but doing so interactively.


I also found it incredibly refreshing to be able to spend a couple of hours playing a game where the only two characters were teenage girls. Not only did I really enjoy the experience, but I shared their joys, fears and hurt. I've never been a 14 year old girl, so I have no idea whether the experience was anything like realistic, but it felt completely believable. Let's have more AAA console games where you don't play a grizzled forty-something white guy please.

And of course the story telling is superb, easily up to the high standards of The Last of Us. It really gives an insight into Ellie's character and why she acts the way she does at several points in the main game (especially during the part where Joel tries to pass Ellie off into Tommy's care).

There are a couple of real highlights in the story, and whilst it didn't have me in tears like the main game did, there were certainly a couple of points that made my heart ache, such as a hint of romance for Ellie and of course the end of Riley's tale. The fact the events remain so effecting, even though we already know what is going to happen (Ellie basically tells us in the very final conversation of the main game) speaks volumes for the skill of the storytellers.

At £12 and only around three hours long this is not a cheap piece of dlc. If you are a fan of The Last of Us however it is worth every single penny.



Update: As I've been writing this it has been announced that The Last of Us is going to be made into a movie. I have really mixed feelings about this. It's sure to bring the game to a wider audience, but I am just fearful it will be a let down (let's face it, every single game-to-movie conversion has been so far).

As I said in my original review, part of the reason that The Last of Us works is because the interactivity that a game brings means it is more affecting than a movie could ever be. After spending 12 incredibly tense hours trying to protect Ellie and Joel, and enjoying their company, you cannot help but feel for them. A two hour movie can't hope to achieve the same level of connection.

The only glimmer of hope is that Neil Druckmann is scripting. Let's hope the Hollywood machine leaves enough of his script intact that this terrifying, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking game translates.

If you haven't played The Last of Us yet then go and do so. Don't wait for a second-class, lite movie version. If you need more convincing go watch this video or this one.

Oh, and please, ignore the pleas of the forum fanboys begging for Ellen Page to play Ellie. Ellie is 14, not nearly 30!

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