Before you get into reading this review, I find it completely necessary to explain that this review was originally posted in the past, and it is being updated in order to follow the way in which we now handle our game reviews here at Gamers Sphere. If you want to check the original reviews (as this review includes both, The Last of Us main game and its standalone DLC Left Behind) you can check them out here and here.
Developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment on June 14, 2013 exclusively for the PlayStation 3, The Last of Us caught the attention of the gaming world, as it has been considered as Naughty Dog’s masterpiece.
Spoiler alert: Even though I’m going to try and avoid spoiling the game for you, there will definitely be some spoilers. Whenever a spoiler is going to appear I’ll make sure to state so, and then let you know when the spoiler has passed so that you can keep going without having to worry about have the game spoiled the game for you.
If you’re interested in knowing a little bit more of the story when it comes to its announcement, sales, and so on, please check out this article, in which I’ve provided all that information.
Basically we have the “default” or “standard” infection story where nobody knows what initiated the whole thing, but people are getting infected, and have started to attack others, which is something quite normal as the virus needs to be spread, right?
In the prologue chapter of the game you get to see -sort of- the beginning of it all. Joel, one of the main characters of the game, gets home from a long day at work, and Sarah, his daughter is waiting for him, asleep on the couch.
She then gives her dad a birthday present, because it was his birthday, and goes to sleep. At that time Joel takes her to her bed and tucks her in.
Later that night, Sarah wakes up thanks to a phone call, which asks for Joel, and makes her aware of the fact that her dad isn’t at home. She looks for him, and after seeing a rather big explosion at the city hospital from her window, Joel gets home, followed by something. Turns out to be a neighbor, as Joel warns her to stay away from the sliding glass door leading to their backyard.
This is the first time in which Sarah sees an infected, but she doesn’t know about it, as she gets shocked by the fact that her dad had to kill his neighbor right in front of her.
The whole city is a chaos and everyone is trying to get out of there, something that Joel does, accompanied by Sarah and his younger brother, Tommy. While infected are running around the city “killing” everyone they see, the special forces are going to contain the situation by any means, even if that involves murdering non-infected civilians.
This might be a little spoiler, yet it is quite important to set the basis for the rest of the story.
While Joel tries to keep Sarah safe, he runs away from the city, following some alternate paths behind some homes, but sadly, he crosses the way of some officials from the special forces, who have to follow orders, and theirs were to kill them, so they shoot at Joel and Sarah, hurting Joel and murdering Sarah…
End of the spoiler.
This is the mere beginning; Joel survived, and he would not stand still. Twenty years later, Joel is still around, and has been doing some “jobs” during the last years, where he has been just getting along.
You might be wondering about the acclaimed Ellie–well, she is the key to mankind’s survival, as she is invulnerable to the infection, and it is now Joel’s responsibility to protect her and bring her to a place where this condition can be used for good.
It is totally worth clarifying that The Last of Us isn’t about “zombies”; the creatures you fight against are humans, both healthy and infected. When it comes to your main adversaries, you’ll have the infected; however, you’ll have to face plenty of civilians during your journey, and these are quite dangerous.
The “Infected” are the people that have mutated due to this weird virus, that enters the human body by inhaling the spores of the Cordyceps, which actually explains how this all started, given the fact that during the first scenes of the game, you get to see a newspaper headline saying that there was a Cordyceps breakout.
This situation, which seems completely taken from a fiction film (mostly given the circumstances of The Last of Us being a video game), has some real life precedents; some animals can get infected and even killed by ophiocordyceps unilateralis, something that has been documented by the BBC, during an episode of their documentary “Planet Earth” entitled “Jungles“. (Click on the link to watch)
So, Naughty Dog’s developers got the idea for The Last of Us from an actual fact, something that could happen, even though it is said that humans can’t be fatally infected by the ophiocordyceps genuses, however, inhaling the cordyceps’ spores can modify the behavior, which means that, perhaps, some mutation of the cordyceps could lead to a zombie-like behavior taking place…just something to think about.
Going back to the infected, there are 4 types of them:
This is the first stage of the infection, they were humans, and are mutating already, they’ll attack and kill anyone that isn’t infected.
This is the second stage of infection. Stalkers have already left behind most of their human appearance due to their mutations. They behave somehow like Runners, yet, they are more cautious and lethal.
Clickers are way stronger than Stalkers, and humans, for that matter; they have created this fungus around their bodies that completely take away their human appearance. Clickers make a quite particular noise that gives out their position, and they are completely blind.
This is the maximum form of infection. To become a Bloater, an infected must’ve been exposed to the spores for a long time, making them super strong, and capable of throwing some sort of “spore bomb”, which spreads the infectious spores around, making it quite a threat.
John Heatz’s Take:
There isn’t much to be said that hasn’t been said already; Naughty Dog created a masterpiece. Astounding visuals, with some easy-to-learn playability and a wide range of different features, not to mention the overall story, makes this game a must play for any survival enthusiast.
Among the features that I like the most are the crafting system, which allows you to use items you find around the game’s world in order to enhance your weapons, or create kits to heal yourself after being hurt by the infected… or other survivors.
There’s also a nice feature which involves Joel’s hearing sense, as it seems that Joel has an enhanced hearing system that allows him to locate nearby enemies. This is quite a useful feature, yet it sort of gives you an “unfair” advantage. However, Joel doesn’t have this skill in the hardest difficulty of the game.
As I mentioned before, graphically, this game is simply outstanding; the scenarios are beautiful, despite the post-apocalyptic feel.
To be fair, there are some down points, not that many, but there are. For one, the overall story is quite standard for a zombie apocalypse. What does this mean? Well, the fact that there is a zombie apocalypse/virus and that there is one survivor that is invulnerable to it sounds quite familiar…does “I Am Legend” ring a bell?
The story, however, gets to a really interesting twist at the end of the game, which for obvious reasons I won’t disclose. But I will tell you, it actually gets you to think and compare between your own personal gain against mankind’s survival. Which one would you prefer?
Also, during my time playing the game, I’ve found some rather annoying little bugs, mostly the sort of bugs that stop you from moving. It happens mostly with random bushes here and there, that should allow you to move through them, but completely stop you from moving.
The Last of Us: Left Behind
After finishing the main campaign from The Last of Us, it was time to experience some alternate story, a story that featured Ellie the whole time. It was time to untangle some of the questions that the ending of the main campaign left, and that’s what The Last of Us: Left Behind did.
Naughty Dog did another excellent job in this campaign, and the release date was a hundred percent appropriate, given the story behind this DLC. Just as a warning, if you haven’t finished the main campaign of The Last of Us, please go ahead and finish it before going any further in this review, and even…don’t play this DLC if you haven’t finished the campaign, as it will spoil the rest of the game for you. Consider yourself warned as this review may contain some spoilers for the main campaign.
When the virus started spreading, everyone was forced to change, there was no other way if they wanted to survive, if they wanted the human race to keep on going. With this in mind, everyone, children, adults, men, women, everyone had to drop their common daily tasks in order to join the cause and fight the infected…and some non-infected as well.
Ellie had a best friend, Riley, who for some reason had to leave. It seems like Riley and Ellie had a fight, a huge fight which made Riley leave; something that wasn’t all that bad, as it sure looks like Ellie toughen-up during the time in which they parted ways, which helped her survive in the end.
Unexpectedly, Riley appears on Ellie’s room, and she tries to spend some time with her friend. Both escape from their duties in order to simply go exploring around, while arguing about the fact that Riley left Ellie. Their friendship is really strong, it might even go past the friendship-only frontier, becoming something a little more than a simple friendship.
During this side campaign, we get to know a little bit about both of them, and we get to know Ellie, which is something most of us were waiting for. Both, Ellie and Riley, are growing up, but during this Left Behind campaign, they embrace their childhood, they joke around, they play different games together, like if nothing happened in the world…like if nothing happened between them.
The story from this DLC is more linked to the main campaign than you’d believe, and that was a great surprise for me when I started playing. If you have already finished The Last of Us, you should remember how Joel got seriously injured once, and there’s a lot of time cut-off from the game, between he gets injured and when he finally gets up. Well, The Last of Us: Left Behind takes you to that place in time when Joel is out and Ellie takes care of him, we get to see what she had to go through in order to keep her friend alive.
With what I’ve said above, keep in mind that this DLC will actually take us to two different places in time, one of them is back when the infection just started, according to some clues you get, it is 30 days after the infection started; while the other will take place after Joel gets injured in the main campaign of the game.
This story will keep you inside buildings, mostly, inside a Mall. Both stories are indoors. When it comes to saving Joel, your objective is to find med-kits, well…specifically one that allows you to “patch him up”. So, you’re inside this mall which seems to be empty and you have to explore it in order to try and get the needed items.
As you progress, you’ll see that the mall isn’t empty, there are infected in there. You’ll face, mostly, clickers. But that’s not all. There’s quite a lot of people looking for Ellie and Joel, the good thing? You can outsmart them and put infected against them in order to make your life easier.
If you see yourself in a confined space where there are infected and other humans, what better way to help yourself than putting them against each other? Let’s say there’s a brick around…throw it in the humans’ direction, that will attract infected for sure! And if there are any survivors –being them infected or non-infected– there will definitely be less than before, and it will be easier to take them down.
Did I mention that Ellie behaves more like a normal kid in this campaign? Well, that’s true! There are some places around the mall that help her do so. While exploring alongside Riley, there will be different attractions such as an Arcade, or something as simple as a game between them, which Ellie describes as a “Truth or Truth”, that’s basically a challenge between them in which the winner will be able to ask the other any question they want.
They both keep playing and challenging each other, there’s one “Hide & Seek” kind of game they play…with water guns!
You can be sure that the game will bring different emotions to you while playing. You will giggle, you will laugh, you will feel sad, concerned, you might even cry a little bit if you are an emotional person.
Riley is basically doing everything she can in order to get Ellie to forgive her, and in order to get Ellie to ask her to stay with her, to not leave anymore. There are plenty of clues that will lead you to the answer of “why does Riley want Ellie to forgive her so bad?”, and you’ll be surprised…or not.
As any friends, they’ll joke around, they’ll explore and have fun together, they’ll take care of each other. Because, you wouldn’t have thought that there were not going to be infected this time, would you?
Because if you did, you are definitely wrong. There might’ve been only 30 days after the infection started, but there definitely are some infected around, something that Ellie and Riley didn’t think through when they started doing all that noise…
When the infected arrive, there’s no other choice than run away from them. Riley and Ellie have to run and defend against them. Luckily enough, Riley is prepared, and she won’t hesitate to use her gun if her best friend is in danger.
When they run away, disgrace happens, and we get to know how it all began, how Ellie gets that nasty bite in her arm. And what made her be the way she is during the main campaign, where she has practically left all of her childhood behind in order to survive.
Both friends survive, and promise each other to stick together until the end.
The story is really intense, going back and forth between stories, you’ll get caught in it, and you won’t even notice the time you spend in-game, as all you will want to do is get to the end of it, get to know everything.
Overall, you can expect the same quality when it comes to graphics. The graphics on The Last of Us: Left behind are as realistic as they can get, and the short cut-scenes that you’ll face during your journey won’t even feel like they are different than the game as a whole, the gameplay graphics and cut-scenes’ ones match perfectly, you barely notice when a cut-scene starts and ends, which gives the feeling of the game never stopping to tell you anything.
When it comes to its soundtrack, you can expect a good one, personally, I prefer the original one, but this one will get you into the game, along with the environmental sounds, which are really important in such a game.
The story of The Last of Us: Left Behind will keep you on your toes for about two and a half hours, which are full of action, joking and exploration, which make the game worth the $15. However, there isn’t any improvement, besides the fact that you can get infected to fight non-infected, which is sort of a down point, as one would’ve expected to experience something better than the main campaign, but don’t get me wrong, you’ll have a great time while going through this game.
Basically, if you played The Last of Us and liked it, this DLC is a must have for your collection.