Video game movies are almost universally poorly-received. The critics don’t like them, they don’t resonate with general audiences, and they frequently have too little confidence in the source material to satisfy the fans. This was a similar place the superhero movie was in at the turn of the century. While films like Warcraft have their defenders, a lot of studios and moviegoers aren’t sold on the concept of a video game movie in the same way they are with superheroes -a genre that only grew to its current status after its success was proven in a number of different ways.
This is a slightly-edited version of a review I wrote of The Last of Us: Left Behind around a year and a half ago. Thought it would be helpful to collect it here.
Although this is under the non-spoiler part of the review, there will be mild spoilers for the The Last of Us – but you really shouldn’t be playing Left Behind if you haven’t already played the original game anyhow. So if you know nothing of the series, go out and buy it right now because it’s the best game on the PS3, and the Remastered edition is available on the PS4.
Left Behind is add-on content to the main game of The Last of Us, it’s available to download for the PS3 version but included on the Remastered edition. It flits between two perspectives, the previously unexplored section between Joel’s injury and Ellie’s meeting with David, and events that happened to Ellie a year before the events of the original game. This contrasts the way she has changed throughout the game in a nice way, she’s more capable, intelligent and mature with Joel, but she’s still recognisable as the same character. I mean this both in her personality and in her model – subtle changes to the way she looks makes her look a little younger and I appreciate the effort they made just for that. Juxtaposing the two mall settings also brings the sense of melancholy that The Last of Us so expertly crafted the previous year. Even though both are post-apocalyptic it really does feel like time has passed, in one there is a sense of foreboding of an inevitable tragedy, and in the other that trauma still resonates – not explicitly in dialogue but in the way Ellie acts. It’s wonderful characterization, and part of the reason why Naughty Dog can prove the impossible by following up a game that felt complete in itself.