725 Comments

Game of the Month - February 2014 - The Last of Us: Left Behind

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See our Game of the Month winner for February 2014
What you lose, and what you keep.

February gave us a number of good and great games, offering something for just about everyone. Shooter fans can enjoy the wonderfully refreshing Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Classic arcade aficionados might gravitate toward Strider, an excellent update of a classic Capcom franchise. And those with a taste for challenging city builders can find a grim, unforgiving new take on the genre in Banished. But in the end, our deliberations boiled down to a debate over the merits of two outstanding games: the captivating Japanese role-playing game Bravely Default, and the story-focused downloadable add-on for The Last of Us, Left Behind.

Left Behind ultimately triumphed because the humanity of its characters and of its story isn't just uncommon in games; it's practically unheard of. It's no wonder that, in her great Wired piece called "The Videogame That Finally Made Me Feel Like a Human Being," Laura Hudson called Left Behind "the most emotionally powerful experience I've ever had in the medium." Left Behind is set during the events of The Last of Us, but while you, as Ellie, forage around a Colorado mall hoping to find the supplies you need to tend to a wounded Joel, Ellie recalls another experience she once had in a mall, an experience that may have been only a few months prior but is so far removed from her life now that it might as well have been in another lifetime.

Ellie and Riley go through an awful lot together in a very short time.
Ellie and Riley go through an awful lot together in a very short time.

During the flashback sequences, we relive a time that Ellie and her friend Riley ventured into a dilapidated Boston mall, and although our time with the two of them is relatively brief, it gives us a picture of a complex, fully realized relationship. They share sad moments and funny moments and sweet moments; they laugh together and they play together and they argue with each other, and we understand them and believe in them and empathize with them every step of the way. The writing is so good, it puts the dialogue in most games to shame.

Left Behind is also brilliant in the way that it takes the gameplay mechanics of The Last of Us--things like throwing bricks, sneaking, and shooting--and uses them as a way for us to participate in Ellie and Riley's relationship. If you've played The Last of Us, you'll have come to associate these mechanics with fear and danger, but in Left Behind, they're often recontextualized in moments of joy and friendly competition. Ellie and Riley live in a devastated world, and they've learned how to cope with things nobody their age should have to, but they're also just teenagers, who want to laugh and have fun and fall in love. It's a poignant reminder of just how much Ellie has lost, how different her life should have been.

Ultimately, Left Behind is about how things are fleeting and how people are haunted by loss, but we're left with our memories, and these become a part of who we are. It's appropriate, then, that the act of playing Left Behind leaves you with so many memories of the time that Ellie and Riley spent together.

Related links:

The Last of Us: Left Behind Review

January Game of the Month

725 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for deactivated-597794cd74015

Why dafuq wasn't Shadowrun Dragonfall reviewed ? Would have easily won.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

It's too low profile - and it's competing for attention with many other games, especially Dark Souls 2, the review copies of which had been sent to GameSpot.

Avatar image for Shadowdanc3r
Shadowdanc3r

<< LINK REMOVED >> I thought that was one of the purposes for GotM, to bring attention to games that otherwise may have gone overlooked. :|

Avatar image for RoachRush
RoachRush

Ok guys, I know you're eager for clicks, but come on. This is the wrong way to do it.

I love The Last of Us just like any other Sony drone, but even I know better than to vote a DLC as a game of the month.

Avatar image for torbonator
torbonator

This is DLC not a game, shouldn't have won. Or I'm just annoyed as bravely default is the best game I've played in years and it lost to DLC.

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Ultramarinus

<< LINK REMOVED >> Why not both? Because both are true.

Avatar image for Bazongaman502
Bazongaman502

"DLC of the Month"... I know February wasn't a great month for games, but DLC does not constitute for a full game.

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MattPeters

<< LINK REMOVED >> I wonder if it's the same as Black History Month, I'm not sure. Great game and DLC but the accolade should have probably went to an actual new game.

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NSA4LIVE

They picked a DLC... over a complete game.....????

*leaves elegantly*

Avatar image for Shadowdanc3r
Shadowdanc3r

Ellie kissed a girl and Tom and Carolyn liked it.

Avatar image for RoachRush
RoachRush

<< LINK REMOVED >>As sung by Ellie:

I kissed a girl and they liked it
The taste of her dried chapped ass lips
I kissed a girl just to try it
And our DLC tops the list

It felt so wrong
It felt so right
'Game of the Month' will start fights

Avatar image for Shadowdanc3r
Shadowdanc3r

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> If you tell me "dried chapped ass lips" wasn't meant to be racially insensitive, I'll give you a 'like.'

Avatar image for Shadowdanc3r
Shadowdanc3r

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Ok then, it's a good parody so I'll 'Like' it.

Avatar image for Optimist_Pryme
Optimist_Pryme

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Racially insensitive? Hrm, when I first read it, I was thinking a zombie pun... but uhhh, sure, okies. o_O

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natalieyan

<< LINK REMOVED >> apparently so

Avatar image for Shadowdanc3r
Shadowdanc3r

@natalieyan @Shadowdanc3r Sadly, not many seem to be getting the Katy Perry reference.

Avatar image for snxx
snxx

So, the best *game* of February is a DLC? Seems legit.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

Don't ever be caught arguing that a DLC package should have been picked in the future. ;)

Avatar image for snxx
snxx

<< LINK REMOVED >> Believe me: I'll *never* say that a DLC should've been picked as "game of the year" or anything like that, and there's a simple reason for that: DLCs are *not* games, just additional content to games. What will be next? Picking mods as "best game"? Or maybe map packs?

Avatar image for snxx
snxx

@grenadehh And, just like DLCs, mods are additional content to previously available games, the difference is that they're developed by the community, freely distributed and many of them heavily modify the base game. Still, they're not independent games *per se*, they require you to have the base game.

One of the reasons Skyrim or Half-Life were as popular as they were are exactly the vast quantity and quality of mods available for them, so the mods make the base game better, becoming part of the strengths considered when nominating the "best game of something". Like, "we picked Half-Life as game of the month in part because of the great quality of additional content available in the form of mods".

Also, continuing your list of games that *were* mods, you can add Team Fortress and DOTA. When they become a whole game, like Team Fortress II or DOTA2, they should be evaluated as full games, but only when and if they make the transition. When that's not the case, they should be picked as pretty good mods, not games.

Avatar image for grenadehh
Grenadehh

@snxx @Gelugon_baat Mods are different because some of them *are* games. Black Mesa, a mod for Source which is an entire remake of Half-Life, is so much better than the original game.


Insurgency was a mod. Day of Defeat was a mod. Counter-Strike was a mod. Natural Selection was a mod. Red Orchestra was a mod.


All of them now actual games. Granted Valve ruined two of them but games nonetheless.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

I expect a Titanfall map pack to be selected in the future.

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blamix99

this will make xbox fanboys angry.. LOL

Avatar image for grenadehh
Grenadehh

<< LINK REMOVED >> This makes everybody angry because this is DLC and not a game.

Avatar image for gamerno66666
Gamerno66666

<< LINK REMOVED >> Sooo 95% of the people here are xbox fanboys?

Avatar image for gamerno66666
Gamerno66666

If you had to pick a DLC/expansion then Shadowrun Return : Dragonfall >>>>>>> TLOU left behind.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

But of course, few - if any - of GameSpot's editors would have played it. ;)

Avatar image for snxx
snxx

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>And that's possibly one of the many problems plaguing Gamespot's staff.

Avatar image for snxx
snxx

<< LINK REMOVED >>Actually, no matters how long lived is the Shadowrun franchise is, the game "Shadowrun Returns" is an indie game, Kickstarter backed and all (I was one of the backers).

Avatar image for snxx
snxx

<< LINK REMOVED >> Riiight. Let me remind you that this is a website that gave the previous "Game of the Month" to "OlliOlli" and that put "Gone Home" and "Path of Exile" as nominees for Game of the Year 2013. Gamespot's staff is no strange to indie games and they, actually, have many times done just that: highlighting the underdog.

Avatar image for grenadehh
Grenadehh

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> Shadowrun is hardly an indie game though. It's existed longer than most GS staff members.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

What do you expect? This is not indiegames.com or some other site that go out of their way to highlight the underdog titles over anything else.

Avatar image for joedin2056
joedin2056

This was a fantastic DLC and totally deserved to get GOTM.

Avatar image for HipHopBeats
HipHopBeats

This just proves one thing. Devs need to step it up and stop releasing bullshit games. This DLC looks better than anything recently released as of now.

Avatar image for t1striker
t1striker

Wow a rather mediocre Dlc(I found it that way anyway) is considered better than the rather great game Bravely Default. I'll have to disagree with GS on this one that's for sure.

Avatar image for dani_i89
dani_i89

****SPOILER ALERT****

Don't read if you haven't played this DLC


This a pretty rubbish pick, this was very short and very underwhelming. The whole Riley/Ellie thing was way overblown. Some of it was even annoying and awkward (WHY did Ellie kiss Riley?? That kinda killed the game for me, totally unnecessary and just a cheap attempt to make the player 'feel' something). Towards the very end things get interesting when humans fight infected, but it's really too little too late. There's nothing surprising about this DLC at all, it just shows a bit of what happened when Ellie was looking after Joel, and her relationship with Riley (again, WTF was up with the kiss?).

Feels like this got scored just because it was TLoU.

The original was amazing. This wasn't.

Avatar image for X-RS
X-RS

A bit dissapointing, I would have rather heard LoU is a great game (who hasn;t) and the DLC is great too, with a GotM going to some other tittle I nkow lesser about, such as the others mentioned Strider/Bravely Default. Also I'd argue DLC is not a game but, the line is getting thinner these days.

Just my 2 Cents.

Avatar image for Optimist_Pryme
Optimist_Pryme

<< LINK REMOVED >> Agreed... it's rather scary what qualifies as a "game" these days. :/

Avatar image for demondogx
demondogx

FEEEEEEEEEEEEDB@CKULA
thats why they chose this is game of the month

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

<< LINK REMOVED >>

I doubt that - Johnny will probably pick South Park: The Stick of Truth for his next episode.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

(The following is a recycling of an earlier post of mine - yes, sure, shame on me.)

"What games will be considered for Game of the Month?

Any title released within the calendar month for each Game of the Month period is eligible. And only original, new release games will be in contention (unfortunately ports or HD remixes will not be considered)."

The above is a passage in << LINK REMOVED >>.

The keyword here is "original". If you are upset about the editors' choice, you can exploit the phrase in your complaints if you want << LINK REMOVED >> for any perceived work-around of their own rules.

However, as I have said earlier, you are essentially going to argue over semantics. This is not an issue of technicality, because the editors did not explicitly say that they will not consider DLC in their choices.


Avatar image for Sky_Stifler
Sky_Stifler

Couldn't be more unrealistic pick, it was rly bad DLC and didn't even deserved to be mentioned

Avatar image for yodaonfire
yodaonfire

No words. What a joke XD

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theothernormal

Guess this will make it to Feedbackula in a day or two.

Avatar image for VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

<< LINK REMOVED >> Good, maybe, just maybe there will be enough people pointing out how retarded it is that DLC was put on a pedastal for best GAME of the MONTH.

DLC for last YEAR's game.

I'm not saying it wasn't good, or even great.

but it's DLC not a new game that was released in the month.

Avatar image for VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Seriously?

This is not some standalone game.

It is an expansion on a game that was released LAST year. Let alone this month.

This is as bad as putting Far Cry Blood Dragon as a top DLC in Game Informer.
That wasn't DLC, it was a standalone digital title.

Seriously, where are the standards?
And don't even get me started that you considered "Bravely Default" over Castlevania LOS 2.

WOW gamespot. I just expect more when I read your articles.