An Emotional Look Into Ellie's Past - The Last of Us: Left Behind - PlayStation 3 -
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The Last of Us: Left Behind

An Emotional Look Into Ellie's Past

I consider The Last of Us to be one of the greatest achievements of the last generation of gaming, so I came to Left Behind wary of the prospect of Naughty Dog tinkering with the fiction. Great stories are often defined by what's left to the imagination as much as the events portrayed onscreen. Early on, Naughty Dog confirmed that Left Behind is a prequel, assuaging my fears that the studio was going to tinker with the perfect, enigmatic ending of the original game.

This claim was mostly true - a large part of the game does take place prior to the events of The Last of Us. However, there's also another plotline that hasn't been revealed - one that depicts some events that take place during one of the season changes in the original.

The core of Left Behind is the fraught relationship between Ellie and Riley, which was alluded to in the final scene of The Last of Us. Riley, excellently voiced by Yaani King, is a great addition to the game's universe, another tough-but-vulnerable kid like Ellie. As before, some of the best moments are the quietest; whether taking pictures in a photo booth, dancing in an abandoned big-box electronics store, or playing an imaginary fighting game at the arcade, Left Behind shows us how life manages to go on even in the worst circumstances. Ellie and Riley are growing up without a net, trying to survive in a hostile world while dealing with their complex feelings for each other. Once again, Naughty Dog's writing shines, letting our attachment to Riley slowly build until the bittersweet conclusion.

The other side of the story is more focused on The Last of Us' frantic combat. Once again, you're pitted against hordes of grotesque "clickers" and vicious human cannibals, armed with a limited arsenal and your wits. For fans of the original, you'll feel right at home - hoarding ammo, sneaking behind cover to strike at your foes. The action-oriented parts of Left Behind are engaging, especially the new sequences where you have to battle clickers and humans at the same time. Here, you can use bottles or other distractions to play them against each other; I frequently used the enraged clickers to clear the room of the people hunting me before using stealth to sneak past.

At around two and a half hours long, it's not an epic experience, but another window into Ellie's life. Instead of blunting the impact as I feared, Riley and Ellie's story adds resonance to the original game's ending. For The Last of Us fans, this is a ride well worth taking.

User Reviews:

  • 9.00
    The Last of Us proved itself to be one of the best games of all time. Winning countless GOTY awards, Naughty Dog showed that it wasn't saying goodbye to the PS3 without one last hurrah. Left Behind, was one of the sole reasons why I kept my PS3, and was eager to learn the back story of my favorite...
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  • 9.25
    The Last of Us did something special for gaming. It was my favorite story in 2013 for any medium. In the mass of post-apocalypse, zombie-filled media to consume, the team at Naughty Dog managed to do something unique by getting to the heart of survival and weighing the worth of trying to live in such...
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  • 8.25
    Left Behind, but not Forgotten My thoughts, and those of ninety percent of people I've talked with or heard comments from regarding their time with The Last of Us, have always been that last year's jewel of a game was and is one of the greatest experiences I've had in a long while. Maybe...
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  • 9.00
    Naughty Dog returns to The Last of Us, arguably the PlayStation 3's swan song, and delivers a confident story even when the bar was raised miles high by the original game. Left Behind is more of the same gameplay-wise, though being able to fight survivors and Infected at the same time is a welcomed...
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