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Critics praise The Last of Us: Left Behind

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The Last of Us: Left Behind
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The Last of Us: Left Behind

The Last of Us ranks as one of the greatest games of the last generation and was our pick for the 2013 Game of the Year. But while the solo campaign had a very definite ending, developer Naughty Dog wasn’t quite done with it.

Enter The Last of Us: Left Behind, a long-awaited slice of new single-player content. Like the full game, it’s being warmly embraced by critics. Arriving today, the PlayStation 3 DLC currently boasts a Metacritic average of 86, with several outlets giving the expansion a perfect score.

"With excellent characters, emotionally charged storytelling and tense action set-pieces, deciding whether or not to revisit Naughty Dog's stunning game world really is a no-brainer," says Digital Spy, which gave the game a perfect 100.

Left Behind focuses on the period before Ellie, the 14-year-old co-star of the original game, meets partner Joel. She and a friend, Riley, head out on an adventure in a city filled with the infected.

While The Last of Us slowly built the relationship between Joel and Ellie, the add-on, which is much shorter (averaging around 2 hours), doesn't have that option. That creates some storytelling difficulties, but critics say the game makers manage to pull it off.

"Ellie and Riley aren't easy stereotypes," notes Polygon’s Phil Kollar in an 8/10 review. "They shift between light-hearted banter, tense drama and nearly breaking down under the weight of the post-apocalyptic world they live in. They talk about music, friends and romantic interests, but they also spend a lot of time trying to figure out where they belong in a world torn apart by disease and death. The conclusions they reach are surprising, touching and sad."

GameSpot agrees.

"I cherished those scenes with Riley and Ellie," writes critic Tom McShea. "When they happen upon a photo booth, they make faces and shriek giddily when their silly mugs are captured. But they can't print out the pictures. And that goes along with the major theme of Left Behind. We see a brief, happy snapshot from Ellie's life with Riley, but we can't take it with us. Her childhood has to come to an end at some point." He awards it a 9/10.

Many critics were concerned that the addition of more story would take away from the original game's ending. Happily, though, that's not the case.

"Instead of blunting the impact as I feared, Riley and Ellie's story adds resonance to the original game's ending," says Game Informer’s Matt Helgeson, who rates it an 8.75/10. "For The Last of Us fans, this is a ride well worth taking."

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