The Wolf Among Us: Episode 5 – Cry Wolf Review, and a look back at the season as a whole I guess

It’s been quite a journey this season for Sheriff Bigby Wolf. There’s been a whole lot of fighting, investigating, smoking and (in my case) bastardry on the way to his final confrontation with The Crooked Man. Every one of the four previous episodes has been a triumph, but does the season 1 finale do justice to everything that preceded it?

The episode starts where episode 4 left off- with Bigby right in the belly of the beast confronting The Crooked Man and his gang. You very quickly find out exactly the identity of the killer you’ve been chasing, and the pace never slows down from there. Apart from one small section and the episode’s ending, most of the events here are action sequences as Bigby pursues The Crooked Man and tears apart anyone standing in his way. It feels noticeably different to the previous episodes as there is very little detective work to do and not a whole lot of choices to make, at least early on, but it makes sense given the climactic nature of the episode. The action scenes are well done as always apart from now and then when my input on the QTEs wasn’t recognised, annoyingly. It didn’t cause any real trouble though. Stand-outs here included a wolfed-out Bigby chasing a car through the streets and over the rooftops, and a hectic fight scene in which Bigby finally shifts into his final form: a massive, quadrupedal wolf, as seen in the comics and poster for the episode. Though it’s brief, it’s great to finally see the literal Big Bad Wolf in action. As I said, there aren’t a whole lot of choices this time around, but there ones that are here are decent. As I’ll elaborate on later I’ve found my choices to be rather consistent, but I still appreciate them- they’re something telltale do well. The episode tries something new later on in the form of attempting to win a crowd over to your side, despite the various bastardy deeds you may well have committed, and one choice that led to me receiving the message “Fabletown is afraid of The Big Bad Wolf” (I’d already won the crowd over though, so it was all good). The whole thing ends on a big sequel hook, which leaves me in two minds: I’d be very happy with a season 2 of TWAU, but as an ending, I’m really not a fan of sequel hooks- they never sit right with me.

So, is it any good as an episode? Well if you look at it stand-alone, it’s definitely one of the weaker episodes for me. The action sequences are always best in this series when they’re supplementing conversations. It has its moments as an episode, but there are better ones. The third and fourth episodes in particular really standing out for me. As a season finale it’s damn strong, feeling suitably climactic with high stakes, and bringing this specific chapter of the story to a close.

Now, as for the season as a whole:

I loved Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” season 1 (I’m really enjoying season 2), and this carries on the studio’s high standard. Though I often had more trouble with the choices in TWD, I found those in TWAU easier: I’ve been a bastard. A psychotic, malicious, power-abusing bastard, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I basically made my Bigby Wolf a stand-up guy with women (with one exception, she knows who she is), not take any shit from men and offer no mercy to those who cross him. I’ve been a consistent and content user of the [Punch Him] dialogue option whenever it’s been available, and I’ve done quite a few things that many would consider “Over the line”. That was the role I’ve played with Bigby, and I don’t regret any of it. I don’t have a lot of experience with the “Fables” comic, but I’ve read a bit, and I love the way Telltale have written him here. The way they’ve created the world and filled it with characters they can have die creates suspense not often seen in prequels, and it pays off rather well. The detective elements are well-handled, particularly in the excellent “A Crooked Mile” in which a ticking clock mechanic is introduced, the combat sections, though handled with QTEs suit the game well, and as always, the choices are excellent. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season of “The Wolf Among Us”, and I’m definitely looking forward to more of it.

Oh, and that main menu. Christ, that main menu. I’m serious- it’s worth mentioning. Go check it out.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Watch Dogs Review

Ah, “Watch_Dogs” as it calls itself- one of the most hyped games in living memory- a game that was thought by many to be the sole reason to buy a next-gen console, and “The first truly next-gen game”, whatever the hell that actually means. Fortunately, dear reader, I’ve been rather successfully (if I do say so myself) ignoring all the immense hype for the game, which I feel will help in this review. Apart from the very first trailer for it, I’ve ignored the other trailers, the apparent graphical downgrade, the delays and the five special editions for the game, partly because I knew I’d end up getting the game (at least to review it) and therefore didn’t care about the press for it, and also because I knew that the final game could ever live up to the sheer hype- said hype was so immense. Question is; is “Watch Dogs” actually any good? Well, read on.

So it’s the near future (I think) and Chicago is home to an operating system called “ctOS” that controls pretty much everything electric in the city as well as having everyone’s personal information (though due to pesky game limitations it can only bring up one piece of apparently “important” information at a time.) on file. This was an extraordinarily stupid idea that lead to people like protagonist Aiden Pearce being able to log into and control all sorts of devices and steal all sorts of personal information with incredible ease. Why was ctOS set up? I don’t know. It may have been mentioned in an audio log somewhere, but as far as I saw it wasn’t justified. Anyway, Aiden Pearce is a hacker whose niece is murdered in an attempt to scare him after a job he pulled, and he’s trying to find out who killed her. Well, I say that, he actually finds out who killed her at the start and has him held hostage for the entire game while the story desperately attempts to find things for him to do. The story in “Watch Dogs” is really nothing special. For starters Aiden is given no real backstory- he’s a skilled infiltrator, marksman, hand-to-hand combatant and driver bordering on military level, but the game never explains where he learned these skills. I’m also supposed to sympathise with him despite the fact he’s brought terror and destruction to his family and is an emotionless, manipulative twat, despite apparently fighting on behalf of the citizens of Chicago. The game has an “inFAMOUS”-style morality meter that didn’t seem to amount to much at all, and certainly didn’t affect the story- throughout the game Aiden was resolute in his own awesomeness as “The Vigilante” despite the large number of police and civilians I had murdered in cold blood. The actual mission-to-mission story is nothing special, but largely in-offensive. Aiden grumbles and murders his way through several break-ins and gang hideouts as he’s blackmailed into various jobs, but none of it ever really had any weight to it. After a while the whole thing took on a perhaps unintentionally dark quality as it dawned on me that Aiden is pretty much just a monster in the “Joel” mold- a man whose only skills extend to violence, coercion and general bastardry, and for a while I quite liked the Nihlistic feel to it. This was then ruined by Aiden’s sister and nephew being pretty much okay with everything he does, but hey-I had it while it lasted.

Gameplay wise, it’s decidedly hit and miss. The whole thing feels rather similar to Ubisoft’s own “Assassin’s Creed”, but with two stand-out elements, which I’ll get to shortly. The gameplay is largely stealth with silenced weapons, with a fair bit of driving, shoot-outs and hacking elements also. I use the word “Elements” because the hacking really isn’t as integral as it was made out to be. Whenever the game forces you to hack things, it’s usually hacking into a camera then jumping from camera to camera to follow someone or get a bead on an area, or just hacking into a computer or box. All of this is done by pointing at something and holding down a button. Outside of the mandatory, hacking mainly consists of making chest-high walls pop-up, or affecting things on roads in order to disable people you’re chasing or being chased by. The one major problem with the hacking is the “Disable Helicopter” move- something that works fine when on foot, but is seemingly impossible while driving. Overall the hacking is nothing particularly amazing, but where it really comes in handy are the game’s optional stealth sections, especially the gang hideouts. These are easily the best parts of the game- you scan the area to find the target that you’re supposed to knock out. You then have to knock them out and either escape or kill all of his henchman, either using stealth or all-out aggression. These stealth sections are reminiscent of “Splinter Cell Blacklist” (also made by Ubisoft. It had fantastic stealth)- the climbing, smooth shooting and melee takedowns all work brilliantly, and these sections are where I had the most fun with the game. When you’re free to do things your own way with a mixture of murder and hacking, the game is really rather decent. Nothing new, but certainly very competent. However, there’s one gameplay element that really sours the rest of it.

Forced stealth sections. Bloody hell the forced stealth sections. Ubisoft have previous for this- the forced stealth sections in every “Assassin’s Creed” game were also bloody awful, and the ones here are no exception- be spotted by anyone, anywhere, for a second and you’re busted. At one point I was tracking a briefcase as it was exchanged among a group of gangsters in a pubic walkway by the sea. I wasn’t supposed to be seen, and at one point a gangster did see me, pulled a gun and asked “What are you doing here?!”. IN A PUBLIC AREA. This was a pretty jarring lapse in logic and common sense, as the game stretched logic to fit in with the mission. During another mission I ran into a guard and he spotted me- the game then decided I had failed, and removed all control from me- the scene faded out as I stood there like a lemon while the guard shot me repeatedly. Now, had the game not removed my control I could have very easily stopped time with my dumb bullet time ability (that’s a point- you have bullet time for no adequately explained reason), raised my silenced pistol and shot him right in the face, like I would do during a gang hideout mission. But no, apparently that just wasn’t feasible. This is not how you do stealth, guys. It’s not enjoyable, it’s not fair, and it makes no bloody sense.

Any other problems? Well, during a mission late on in the game, I was supposed to be guiding someone to safety via security cameras. I instead sprinted into the building, killed a few goons and found the person in question only for them to COMPLETELY IGNORE ME FOR NO REASON. Nice one, guys.

Overall, “Watch Dogs” has its ups and downs. The optional stealth sections are great- the gang hideouts in particular play like a more restrictive version of “Splinter Cell: Blacklist”, which I love. The driving is fine, and even manages to have one rather initiative move where you turn off the engine to hide from the police, the shooting is decent, and although not essential, the hacking is well-implemented. What hold it back are the story being bland and not being affected by the player’s capacity to either be a man of the people or a psychotic bastard, and the utterly terrible forced stealth sections, that are entirely unwanted and very annoying. Is the game any good? It’s alright, yeah. It’s not the revolution people seemed to think it was going to be, and it certainly doesn’t live up to the massive hype. It’s really nothing special, but if you absolutely must pick it up there is fun to be had. There are better Ubisoft games on next-gen, namely “Assassin’s Creed IV” and “Rayman Legends”. They’re much more worthy of your time.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Thoughts on: The E3 2014 Trailer for “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain”

The newest trailer for my most anticipated game was leaked earlier today- “The Phantom Pain”. For those who are unaware, I’m a huge “Metal Gear Solid” fan, I’m incredibly hyped for “The Phantom Pain”, and judging by the trailers it could well end up being my faveourite game of all time, should the story be as good as it looks and the gameplay be as good as it was in “Ground Zeroes”. Anyway, that trailer. I’ve seen both the Japanese version and the English one, and I wanted to give my thoughts on what I saw. I will be talking explicitly about what happens in the trailer, so if you want to see it fresh then avoid this piece. I’ll be breaking things down into points- things about the trailer that stood out for me, not necessarily in chronological order.

The Song

“Nuclear” by Mike Oldfield playing throughout most of the trailer provides a suitably somber, dramatic backdrop to events, with the chorus standing out: “I’m nuclear, I’m wild. I’m breaking up inside. A heart of broken glass. Defiled. Deep inside the abandoned child. Of course the song wasn’t written for the game or anything, but it seems very apt, particularly given the tone of the trailer.

Bloody Big Boss and the horrific aftermath

One of the first shots in the trailer, and one that’s returned to later. A scorched, harrowing aftermath of a battle with corpses strewn about all over the place. Snake walks through the landscape alone and bloodied. In the later shot his face is completely covered with blood, and, on his knees, he tilts his head back and roars at the sky. This looks to be pretty late on in the game, and I imagine this will be one of many “tipping points” Snake has in the game. I can’t speak for who Diamond Dogs were fighting, but as I said- a lot of the battlefield is scorched, with many burned bodies, burnt-out cars and helicopters. It suggests some kind of powerful explosive. It could well be a nuke. That sounds unlikely, but Snake has survived three nuclear explosions in his life, and although he was never this close, he was quite nearby the second two.

Diamond Dogs Memorial

A powerful scene not open to much interpretation, this one. Snake, the now-rescued Kaz and a small group of Diamond Dogs soldiers watch over a funeral pyre for a number of coffins draped in the Diamond Dogs logo. The plan is to throw their ashes into the sea, but instead Snake grabs a handful of ash and rubs it on his face. It’s a bold shot, and establishes Snake’s mood during the difficult time. When did the soldiers die? My thoughts are during the ending of “Ground Zeroes”- Snake presumably put any memorial on hold while he rescued Kaz, so this would make sense. This scene is a great one in showing just how hard Snake and his men take the loss of their comrades. It’s combined with another scene I’ll get to later. Also, not only is Kaz present, but…

Outer Heaven

…they’re standing on a whole new Mother Base- now called “Outer Heaven”- Big Boss’ base in games set later. There’s a shot of Kaz and Snake admiring it from ground level, a short clip of Ocelot presiding over three soldiers undergoing target practice (one guy is shooting from the hip), and also two soldiers fighting while a crowd watches. I can’t quite decide whether I think they’re training or genuinely having a scrap, but the next point on the list might clear that up somewhat. I like that they have a new base up and running (Kojima did mention this before hand but it slipped my mind) and it’s nice to see Ocelot helping out.

Self-destructive Snake

A short one, but a very interesting one. That fight I mentioned is broken up by the big man himself- one of the soldiers pulls a knife. Snake grabs the dude’s arm and, much to the soldier’s distress, Snake sticks it into his own chest. Now two theories come to mind for me here. The first one is if it’s an actual fight, and Snake’s making some kind of “If you hurt each other, you’re hurting me, and us all.” demonstration to make them cut it out. The second is if it’s training, and his point is “Knives aren’t welcome here- it could go horribly wrong, like so.” I could be wrong in either case, but that’s what comes to mind. Intriguing, anyway.

Big Boss vs Eli

This is a very big one for me, despite only taking up a short amount of the trailer. Eli, the little boy shown in the “Red Band” trailer last E3, and thought by many to be a twelve year old “Liquid Snake” (one of the men cloned from Big Boss’ DNA and “brother” to Solid Snake) swings at Big Boss with a plastic chair before pinning him against a wall with it and pulling out a blade, much to Big Boss’ seemingly genuine worry. Soon after this there’s a shot of Eli running and then lunging at Big Boss, only for the latter to CQC the former to the floor and apparently slam the blade into him. This one raises a lot of questions for me. Does Eli know who Snake is, or is he just trying to escape from somewhere? If he is Liquid Snake, does Big Boss know Eli is his “Son”? How can Big Boss be so easily overpowered by a twelve year old? Is he in shock from seeing his “Son” for the first time? Is he unprepared what with having to fight a child? What about the apparent stabbing? If Eli is Liquid, it’s unlikely he stabs him, and it obviously wouldn’t be a killing blow. My thought? That blade’s going into the floor next to him, and the next words out of Big Boss’ mouth are some variation on “I’m not here to fight”. Also, this is now the second trailer for “Phantom Pain” in which Snake possibly murders children (the first being the cage full of African kids in the “Red Band” trailer. I’m still really not sure if he’s shooting them or not, but that’s an opinion to be explored at another time.) Also, Eli has what looks like “NEVER BE GAME OVER” written on the back of his top.

Quiet

Firstly, a woman who appears to be “Quiet” (the scantily-clad sniper from the “Red Band” trailer) dressed in battle fatigues limps away from an assailant, only for said assailant to grab her and dunk her head under water while her hands are tied. In a later scene, a woman that definitely is Quiet shows off some impressive hand-to-hand skills; using a downed attacker as a springboard to launch herself up onto another assailant with one foot- bouncing off him to pounce on a third, whom she apparently kills or at least incapacitates with what looks like a blow or slash to the throat, though it isn’t directly shown. If the woman being submerged in water is indeed Quiet, this is probably part of her backstory which Kojima said will make everyone who made a fuss about her clothing feel ashamed, which makes me think: Is she dressing that way to lure people into a false sense of security? I’m really unsure of the reason why, particularly as Kojima said it was partly because he wants people to cosplay her. I’m eager to find out. As for the latter shots, she’s got some pretty slick moves, and I look forward to seeing her in action more.

Even in death we are Diamond Dogs

The really moving part of the trailer: back to that shot of Snake with the ashes on his face, Kaz asks “We’re not burying them at sea. What then?” The following exchange happens: “We’ll make diamonds from their ashes. Take them into battle with us.”
“A shining light to our brothers in arms. Even in death…”
“…we are Diamond Dogs.”
Again, I love this part for showing just how hard Big Boss is hit by the death of his men, and how highly he thinks of them. It also brings a beautifully poignant context to the name “Diamond Dogs”. It’s not just a David Bowie reference.

The trailer has its share of awesome title cards like the rest of the game’s trailers, this time being: “Tormented by phantoms” over a MSF logo, “Spirits of Ground Zeroes” over an XOF logo, “Time for Retribution” over a Diamond Dogs logo and finally “Venom Awakens” over the new Outer Heaven logo

Skull Face and Metal Gear

Snake and a blindfolded Skull Face (the fantastic villain from Ground Zeroes) get out of a jeep inside a hangar containing what is either the recovered “Metal Gear Zeke” from “Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker”, or a newly created metal gear. Either way, Diamond Dogs has a metal gear, and they now mean even more business than they did before. What really intrigues me here is Skull Face- what’s he doing in Outer Heaven with Snake? Is Snake just showing off his arsenal in an attempt to intimidate? Or were his claims about him and Big Boss going way back legit? I love Skull Face as a villain and I’m really interested to see where he fits into everything.

(I also want to point out Snake taking out a knife and smiling at it while next to what appears to be an unconscious Chico, Snake putting a bag over Huey Emmerich’s head and Ocelot injecting him with something, and Snake shooting four soldiers at the end that appear to be on his side. Perhaps they’re under someone’s control or infected with something? Maybe this is after Snake takes the first major step on his road to being a villain? Hard to tell really)

So those are my thoughts on the E3 2014 trailer for “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain”. I’ll be writing pieces on anymore footage of the game that’s released. Suffice it to say this trailer got me very, very excited for what’s to come.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

So then. Nazis. Nazis fascinate me, I must admit. They are a group that will almost inevitably be brought up by anyone discussing the concept of “Evil”- they’re remembered as a mighty yet diabolical, heinous war machine responsible for some of the worst atrocities in humanity’s history. So no matter how interesting I find them, I do so love seeing them get killed. As you can probably imagine, I was really rather looking forward to “Wolfenstein”. I must admit my experience with the previous installments is somewhat lacking. I’ve played “Wolfenstein 3D” a little bit and I played quite a lot of “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” but that’s all. As for “The New Order”, I loved the premise, I really like first person shooters, and I love killing Nazis, so this looked like one to pick up. This review will be focusing on the title as a game rather than as part of the franchise; is it any good? Does it do anything new for shooters? Just how many Nazis did I kill anyway?

Answer: I’ve lost count. The story starts in 1946 with long-time “Wolfenstein” protagonist William “B.J” Blazkowicz (Which other people seem to pronounce “Blaz-KO-Vitch” but he himself pronounces “Blaz-kuh-witz”) leading a small team on a desperate, last-ditch raid against the castle base of General Wilhelm Strasse, otherwise known as “Deathshead”, a monstrous Nazi scientist who is responsible for a whole lot of mechanised dogs, humans and robots that are greatly improving Germany’s chance of winning the war. Long story short B.J and friends are captured, he escapes with a couple of them, takes a big piece of shrapnel to the head and goes into a vegetative state; ending up in an Asylum run by a polish family. Losing his concept of time, he is doted on by the family’s daughter Anya until eventually a Nazi squad arrive to shut the place down with bullets. This spurs B.J back into action as he gets up, kills a whole load of Nazis and joins up with Anya to help out any resistance fighters. However, there’s one major twist to all this: B.J was in a vegetative state for fourteen years- the Nazis won the war and 1960 sees pretty much the entire planet run by Nazis. Also The Moon, but I’ll get to that. This was the premise that got me interested in the game, and it really doesn’t disappoint- not only have the Nazis got vastly improved technology in 1960 but you also see the non-military effects of a world run by the Nazi party. It ranges from big things like a bridge from Europe to Africa (which is apparently “The Front” but I don’t know how much resistance is going on there. Probably not a lot what with all the robot dogs and Supersoldaten) and a Nazi lunar base to smaller things like famous songs from the era recorded in German, like “Get Back” by The Beatles and “Nowhere to Run” by Martha and the Vandellas. The back story is largely found in newspaper clippings that are very interesting if you take the time to read them, and the fact that it isn’t out in the open adds to the idea that everyone’s so beaten down by the Nazis- as far as most people are concerned, they won. Early on B.J is told that the U.S was nuked, which is not even treated as anything shocking by those telling him. At one point Deathshead lambasts B.J for being an agent of chaos out to selfishly ruin the efficient, beautiful society the Nazis have created. They won. The smaller-scale story as told throughout the story missions is also good; B.J and what’s left of the resistance fight back against the Reich in whatever ways they can leading to some decent variety in missions, but the real focus here is on character. B.J himself gets some decent fleshing out through his interactions with his team, mainly Anya, and through his narration. Said narration is always a hushed, intense whisper that’s usually poetic but concise as he reflects on what’s happening to him and what’s happened in the past. It’s a nice contrast to his determined but approachable exterior- inside he’s a cold-hearted killer with a burning hatred for the Nazis that runs deep. Other stand-outs are Anya who fills the role of B.Js girlfriend while also being a key member of the resistance who comes across as an actual human being who’s intelligent, determined and warm despite all that’s happened to her, and B.J’s old friend and comrade Fergus- a battered, lethal Scotsman who provides a good amount of abrasive comic relief, and fills out the British part of the team a bit (The UK didn’t do too well in this timeline). Overall the story is really rather good, and definitely not just throw-away filler in between shooting sections.

Now many would argue that gameplay is most important in an FPS, and fortunately that doesn’t disappoint either. If the story is handling the more serious side of things, its the gameplay that handles the fun, cathartic side. Coming across as a mixture of classic FPS gameplay as seen in the likes of “Doom” and the better type of modern shooter like “Resistance 3″, it’s both smart and over-the-top. Almost every weapon in the game can be dual-wielded, including automatic shotguns and assault rifles. Hell, even knives. Most of the weapons feel satisfying and handle well, and well-implemented lean system makes cover a more intuitive option without going too far like “Killzone” 2 and 3. The game is split between shoot-outs and stealth sections, and both are handled well. The stealth works on line-of-sight and hiding behind physical objects rather than in shadow. Knives can be thrown, takedowns can be performed or if you’re in a rush pistols can be silenced. Commanders can be killed to prevent reinforcements from showing up, and the game feels fair in regards to the time between being seen and an alert being raised- basically it’s FPS stealth done right, feeling similar to “Metro: Last Light”. Health does regenerate, but only by twenty points (that was how high mine went, you might be able to upgrade it)- otherwise you’ve got to pick up health packs, just like old times. Health can continuously be picked up even if you’re at your maximum- causing you to “Overcharge” and have extra health that increasingly drops down to your limit. The game also handles “Perks” well, with unlocks being tied to tasks, mainly involving killing a certain number of Nazis in different ways.

I said it mixes the old with the new, and I feel it does it well- the health system, armour and mowing down hordes of enemies with massive firepower from the old days, tight level design and well-implemented stealth from newer games. In answer to the question I posed earlier in the review, it doesn’t really do much new for the genre, besides the health system, which is a pretty cool idea, all told. However, at no point in the game did I think “Oh they took this from (X)”. It feels like a natural step for shooters and not the sum of several parts from games that came before it.

Overall, “Wolfenstein” is great. The back story and premise are really interesting and well-told, the character drama is solid and its characters likable, and the gameplay mixes modern sensibilities with old school massacring rather well. This is definitely one to check out, particularly if you like first person shooters.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2: A House Divided and Episode 3: In Harm’s Way Reviews

Okay, same deal as the last two episodes of “The Wolf Among Us”- played episode 2 of this when it came out, didn’t review it, decided to wait for episode 3 to come out. Okay, let’s get into it:

Episode 2: A House Divided

This episode focuses on Clem’s new group deciding they need to get the hell away from the cabin they’re currently staying in after the previously mentioned antagonist “Carver” turns up to recon the area while everyone but Clem and Sarah are absent. A key part of the story is the emotional return of a friendly face for Clementine that I won’t spoil in this part of the review at least, and despite having it accidentally revealed to me it really packed a punch as the stand-out part of the episode. The story in this part strikes a balance between warm, safe (as safe as one can be in this situation) moments with character interaction and more harsh sections when the group are in danger, and here said sections seem to directly alternate, though that’s not a bad thing. As well as the aforementioned returning character I feel this episode and the next one (I’ll get to that) really demonstrate how interesting Sarah is, both as a character and as a catalyst for gameplay elements and choices. Basically she’s a fifteen year old girl who is very sheltered and naive, and has to be constantly looked after lest she get herself or anyone else killed. This responsibility is often passed over from her father to Clem, and it leads to some rather interesting situations. She can often be a burden and you have to decided whether you want to be cold and uncaring with her, or be more sympathetic. Gameplay wise it’s still predominantly exploring and dialogue choices, with quick time events being used sparingly for when zombies attack, which isn’t too often. What’s most important here of course, are the choices you have to make. Fortunately this episode has some pretty strong ones. Though I feel the choices are less one-sided for me than the ones in “The Wolf Among Us” (By no means the game’s fault, I’m just following a pretty clear path that I’ve made for myself), I do still find a lot of them quite easy to make, at least some times. Still, they’re well-implemented as always, and the short amount of time you often have to make the choices still really adds to them.

Overall, a good episode.

Episode 3: In Harm’s Way

This episode is pretty intense, at least after a somewhat slow start. [SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 2] After being captured by Michael Madsen (Carver) in the last episode and losing a few members in the process [SPOILERS END] Clem and the gang are hauled over to Carver’s base- a big, D.I.Y/Garden Centre place. Its residents include whatever “400 days” characters you convinced to leave at the end of the DLC, and I must say it is nice to see where they ended up, even if the majority of them are arseholes now. Clem and friends spend the majority of the episode being forced by Carver to earn his trust through copious amounts of manual labour, all while forming a plan to escape. I said at the start of this section that the episode has a slow start, but I wouldn’t call that a bad thing. The episode has a lot of set-up with the group forming their plan, and it’s worth it for the pay-off at the end. The ending of this episode is fantastic both in content and as a clifhanger, and contains one of the most brutal things I’ve seen in games for a while, and certainly in “The Walking Dead” games. It all hinges on what I’d consider to be one of the most important choices in either series, and arguably the most important choice in Season 2 so far- one that will come to define Clem for however long she has left (and please let that be a long time- I already lost Lee, I can’t lose Clem too). Elsewhere the choices are up to their usual standard, with at least two stand-outs. Something I noticed on a more negative side was that there were a few dialogue options where the time limit went down so slowly it didn’t seem to be moving at all, in fact it may not have been. I don’t know whether this was a glitch or intentional, but if the latter is the case then it’s unhelpful. A key part of the choices in this game is that you often have a short amount of time to decide, which ramps up the panic and makes them harder. Granted the dialogue choices aren’t the most important, but it’s still worth noting. The “Action” scenes are again used sparingly in this episode, which makes sense given the setting for a lot of it.

At this point I prefer “The Wolf Among Us” out of Tell Tale’s two on-going projects, but “The Walking Dead” is not to be sniffed at. It’s carrying on the great work that “Season 1″ started, and is really worth looking into, as long as you can take the violence and sheer despair of it all.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 – A Crooked Mile and Episode 4 – In Sheep’s Clothing Reviews

So it’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed things on a regular basis (I managed to get the last couple out while writing my university dissertation), and during that time I played, though didn’t find time to review, episode 3 of Tell Tale’s “The Wolf Among Us”. I decided it’d be easier to review that alongside the recently released episode 4, and I’ll be doing the same for episodes 2 and 3 of “The Walking Dead: Season 2″. So, let’s get into it.

Episode 3: A Crooked Mile

Now, back in my review I commented on how the apparent reveal of the killer brought an end to the intrigue that had built up over episode 1 and much of episode 2. Turns out, that was a premature statement. Much of this episode is spent trying to A) Track down episode 2’s suspect and B) Figure out if they really are responsible for what happened. Both in terms of story and gameplay this is a tense episode, and shifts the pace quite a bit from the last two episodes. Though there are still fight scenes, they’re rather brief, and far more time is spent on doing actual detective work. All you have to begin with is a time- you have to find out where you’ll have to be at that time, and who your suspect is going to be meeting. You have three locations to search for clues, and a ticking clock reminding you that time is short. I managed to arrive at the location in question slightly late, but still got to the episode’s conclusion, and without any real trouble. Said conclusion is one of the game’s more visually cool action sequences, if one of its less involving. The episode also has some good character moments, particularly with the ever-suffering patrons and owner of the Trip Trap bar. The choices are still interesting and well-implemented, even if I do lean heavily towards the “Psychotic Bastard” side of the spectrum. There’s one moment in particular that stands-out among my usual bastardry in this game, and I’m delighted to report that there are still many opportunities to randomly punch people you’re talking to in the face if the conversation isn’t going your way. Hey, I may be cheap, but dammit if I don’t get results.

The change of pace adds to the already excellent mechanics and story, making this an episode to definitely check out.

Episode 4: In Sheep’s Clothing

[SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 3] After the bloody conclusion to the previous episode in which Bigby Wolfed out and potentially murdered Tweedle Dum (depending on your choices. I jumped at the chance to shut him up once and for all), only to be gravely wounded by Bloody Mary and have Ichabod Crane taken from him and Snow [SPOILERS END] Bigby is fixed up in his apartment by Dr. Swineheart and told to take it easy for a while. No more randomly punching people and needlessly starting fights when simple conversation would suffice, basically. But little does Swineheart know that I’ll be in the cold ground before I stop randomly punching people in the face in this game, and indeed there is no rest for the wicked, so on I go. The whole of this episode is spent trying to track down “The Crooked Man”- the shadowy villain running everything from behind the scenes, and fits back into what TWAU does best- a mixture of questioning suspects and getting into brutal fights. There aren’t really many choices here- it’s said in dialogue that choosing to go to one of the two leads first might hamper your chances of finding anything at the other but that wasn’t the case for me- both locations went very well. Apart from that there are a few interesting conversation choices, but nothing really feels too drastic. It may be because I’ve been clearly following a path with Bigby (Polite and calm with women, to-the-point and often violent with men) and I see no real reason to deviate from it now, but no choices in this episode really stood out for me. Well, except for one, and that was more of picking what I thought looked cool. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, much like Season 1, Episode 4 of “The Walking Dead”, and like in that episode you get to pick a dialogue response here right at the end that will start you off in the finale. For the record, I chose to light a cigarette. It was glorious.

Although none of the choices stood out in this episode (Which is odd given some of the great ones that have been in previous episodes), the episode itself was great. The mixture of story and gameplay continue to show that Tell Tale are at the top of their game, and cements “The Wolf Among Us”‘ current place on my top five games of the year. Can’t wait for the finale.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

DLC Review: Outlast: Whistleblower

So. Here we are. “Outlast” was released back in 2013 but I only got to play it when it was released on PS4 earlier this year. It’s a shining example of both Survival Horror as a genre and of the fact that the genre isn’t dead, and that it doesn’t need “saving” by the likes of “The Evil Within”. Focusing on running and stealth to negotiate enemies and with a well-implemented night vision element that adds to the excellent atmosphere, it really is a great horror game. Now the anticipated DLC “Whistleblower” is upon us. Welcome back to Mount Massive, children. It’s going to be one hell of a visit.

(SPOILERS FOR OUTLAST TO FOLLOW)

Set both before, during and after the events of the main game, “Whistleblower” puts you in the bare feet of Waylon Park- a software engineer for the Murkoff Corporation working at Mount Massive Asylum. More importantly, he was the one that sent Miles Upshur the email telling him to investigate Mount Massive. Sending that email is the very first thing you do in the game, and it gets you into some serious trouble. Before then you get to see the experiments first hand, before Waylon is forcibly imprisoned as a patient, as well as being subjected to the same experiments all the variants in the main game went through (conveniently, apart from short-term visual hallucinations the engine doesn’t seem to have any negative effects on him). The patients break loose, Waylon grabs the camera used to record his reactions to the experiments and decides to get the hell out of dodge, recording as much incriminating footage as he can along the way. The set-up is good, but simple- story wise it’s pretty similar to the main game, though less rigidly paced. Whereas Miles’ route was often defined by Father Martin being an unhelpful dick, Waylon’s progress is hampered by his environment. The most interesting factor is that the outbreak has just started- you start right in the belly of the beast, and there are generally more people still alive in the various parts of the asylum, some of which are new to the DLC. You aren’t eased in this time- the game assumes you know your way around its mechanics and throws you straight into things, to great effect. It was made apparent before release that the DLC acts as both a prequel to the main game, and an epilogue, and it does indeed provide some closure to the main story. You find out Miles’ ultimate fate after he was gunned down in the main game. You find out what the Walrider did next. It’s all quite brief, but the ending does bring things to a close, and sets up something of a sequel. The best parts of the story are those taking place before and during the events of the main game, particularly the new locations and variants.

Speaking of new variants, the DLC has two. One is a cannibal who walks around in his underpants trying to find you so he can cut you up with a hand-held buzz saw and eat you raw. His persistent pursuing of Waylon very early on in the DLC was my first real tense experience in “Whistleblower”, and he fits right in with the likes of the twins and Chris Walker. Like Walker, he has a tell-tale audio cue that alerts you to his presence- the high-pitched whine of his circular saw, which he spins while searching for you. It is really rather unnerving to say the least.  His introduction is also a rather inventive and effective use of gory body horror, and overall he’s a great inclusion. The far superior of the two, however, is the aptly named “The Groom”. I knew about this guy going in, but hadn’t really seen him in action. He and his section are easily the best things about the new content, and he makes all the other unique variants seem like kittens in comparison. He’s set up as some feared, murderous spider skulking around the vocational block of the prison, and when you finally enter his lair you know you’re in for a rough time- phrases scrawled on the wall about how great love is, human bodies positioned in truly grotesque ways, and the sounds of American Quartet’s “I want a girl” (which is a creepy song anyway) give you some clue as to what you’re in for . His shtick is that he’s desperately searching for a wife. Problem is, all of his potential wives are men, and therefore have a particular biological component that he’s all to eager and willing to remove. Dr Trager in the main game played the affably evil thing very well, but there’s a certain horror about the way The Groom talks and acts, as well as his macabre living space and how dire the events that take place within it are that give him the edge for me. He’s a fantastic creation, and he and Trager are pinnacles of what Red Barrels can achieve in terms of antagonists.

Gameplay wise, it’s the same as the main game- stealth is still the way forward, with a few chases thrown in for good measure. The whole thing is still very creepy, tense and beautifully (in a bleak way) atmospheric, and the night vision camera is still well implemented.

Overall, this is a great piece of DLC. The gameplay is still genuinely scary and atmospheric, the new variants are excellent, and the whole thing fits in nicely with the original game’s story. The Groom is a great horror antagonist that fits in perfectly with the universe established in the main game, and given the strength of the whole product, I’m eager to see what Red Barrels do next. If you like the main game, definitely pick this up. If you couldn’t get into it for any reason, you won’t find anything here that’ll change your mind.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

 

DLC Review: Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two


Note: I’ll be avoiding spoilers for episode 2 in this review, but given both the story-heavy nature of the DLC and indeed what the story covers if you don’t want to know anything about the plot at all, I advise you to leave now.

I suppose I should have seen this coming, really. Ken Levine dismantles Irrational Games with their last product being the final piece of DLC for the excellent “Bioshock Infinite”? I should have known it’d wrap everything up and bring a decisive end to not only Infinite, but also its universe, including the original game (but not Bioshock 2 because that one doesn’t count). Characters are given extra, previously unseen depth, plot holes are filled (including, interestingly, ones that reviewers picked in “Infinite”) and everything gets tied up, “Metal Gear Solid 4″ style (although disappointingly lacking in old man fights). Take one last walk into the lighthouse with me, people, as I tell you whether or not this is a journey worth taking.

(SPOILERS FOR BURIAL AT SEA EPISODE 1) Having brought about the demise of Comstock hiding out in Rapture and pretending to be Booker DeWitt (SPOILERS END), Elizabeth finds herself on the wrong end of a revolver belonging to a thug working for Atlas from the first Bioshock. A hallucination of Booker appears and gives her just the right words to save her life, but now she’s working for Atlas in an attempt to raise the sunken part of Rapture up to the rest of the city and rescue a little sister named “Sally”. The story goes to some interesting places from there, but apart from a few instances I wouldn’t consider it to be essential information. It is, however, very interesting information that supplements established elements and characters nicely, and best of all cements and explains links between Rapture and Columbia. It seeks to fill in as many gaps as it can, with time being given to things like Songbird and where vigors came from, which can sometimes result in them answering questions you never asked. The story flows pretty well, but can sometimes feel like “Oh hey, someone left some previously-hidden backstory lying around on the way to your objective. Maybe you should look at it, it might be pretty sweet”. The ending initially left me in two minds as to whether I thought it worked, and while I’ll still be mulling it over for a while I do think it was pretty good, and it does wrap everything up in a way that makes sense in the grand scheme of things.

The biggest change here is the gameplay. Elizabeth does not have access to her powers and tears because plot reasons, so the name of the game here is stealth. Enemies can be taken out with a melee attack from behind, there’s a new knock-out crossbow and Elizabeth dies really easily. Fortunately health kits can now be carried around with you for later like in the original game, and there’s a new plasmid called “Peeping Tom” that makes you invisible and lets you see through walls. Money and ammo are incredibly scarce, and enemies seem a lot more resilient to gunfire for some contrived, rather annoying reason, making gunfights a bad option. Also, you restart from checkpoints now as opposed to respawning. So the gameplay’s quite a lot different then, but does it work?Well yes and no. The knock-out crossbow takes down enemies in one hit, enemies have a detection meter above their heads meaning you have time to react if they see you, and the melee takedown is generally effective. However, apart from said detection meter the game design hasn’t really been changed to accommodate a stealth focus, and “Bioshock” is not a stealth series. It’s hard to keep tabs on enemies and taking them out one-by-one, coupled with the low ammo and Elizabeth wearing noisy high heels meant that I often ended up being spotted, and then running through large groups of enemies to my objective. The fact that you can use this as an effective tactic doesn’t bode well. The first group of enemies you meet is genuiely tense and has a great horror atmosphere, but after that it all starts to feel like Bioshock, but with enemies not being alerted as soon as they see you. It could have been handled better, basically.

Elizabeth is still a great character, and finally getting to play as her is a nice touch. Given her place in the Bioshock canon feels right to play as her for the series’ conclusion. Booker also returns in the form of a hallucination based on her memories that acts as a sort of invisible sidekick, and although it would have been nice for him to have a physical presence, this is Elizabeth’s story.

Overall, this is a success. Whereas Burial at Sea Episode 1 felt like a fun aside to the main story until it suddenly formed an important link at the end, this one is hell-bent to bring the Bioshock universe to a conclusion and tie up as many things as it can along the way, and I think it does it well. As I said, it’s not all essential information, but everything show here feels valid and interesting. The gameplay is more of a mixed bag, with the stealth being reasonably handled and the shootouts feeling arbitrarily difficult. It was a nice try and I appreciate them doing something different, but it could have been handled better. As a piece of DLC it has some issues. As a conclusion to the “Bioshock” series and Irrational Games’ last product, it’s a triumph.

“I may not always love you, but long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it. I’ll make you so sure about it; God only knows what I’d be without you.”

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes Review

So. Here it is. The prologue to what has been my most-anticipated game for some time now. A budget-priced taster of what’s to come- giving people a glimpse of the new gameplay mechanics, plot and tone. Many have called it a paid demo, or at least commented on the game’s short length. Is it worth paying for? Or should it have just been released as a free demo?

First of all, yes- the main mission “Ground Zeroes” is about ninety minutes to two hours long, if you either take your time or don’t know where you’re going. Yes, you can get through it in a matter of minutes if you plan your route properly. There are five side missions (counting the two console-specific ones) with different objectives and set at different times of the day all within the same base. So in terms of content, there isn’t a lot here. However, I would consider this to be a case of quality over quantity for the most part.

Despite being small, the map offers multiple routes towards your various objectives, depending on where you are. It’s not particularly expansive, but it does give you a fair bit of room to plan your route through, and feels adequately designed for both an action or stealth playstyle, as well as a mix of both. It includes two prison areas, cliffs, a heliport and an administration building, with each area feeling organic enough to feel non-linear while also feeling like defined paths are also present if you need them. Unfortunately your objectives never change location except for one mission, so whichever route you take you’ll mostly end up in the same place. The time of day (here determined by the mission) actually makes quite a big difference, both graphically and practically- the “Ground Zeroes” mission sees the base drenched in rain at midnight; enemies have a harder time seeing you and the whole thing is beautifully atmospheric. Every side-op bar one is set during the day. Enemies can see you from a whole lot further away, and the sense of space improves at the sake of you feeling more exposed. Considering the base is the only location featured in gameplay, the game manages to squeeze enough out of it to keep it interesting for a while. The graphics are pretty incredible. The new “Fox” engine handles lighting, textures and details brilliantly, and the game looks fantastic in motion. It looked good in trailers, but it really does have to be seen running to get the most out of it. I played it on Playstation 4 which is apparently the best looking one, but I can’t imagine the other versions look bad.

Gameplay wise it’s similarly excellent. It plays like a refined version of “Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker”- over-the-shoulder aiming, dynamic CQC moves and smooth controls, with new freedom of movement. Big Boss can now sprint, climb over obstacles ranging from small barriers to tall fences and move while prone, amongst other things. The metal gear series  has been refining its controls gradually with each release, and this really feels like the culmination of its efforts- everything works smoothly, and makes you feel entirely in control of the situation, or at least capable of solving any problems. The big new feature is reflex mode- get spotted by an enemy that didn’t know you were there and time slows down, giving you time to solve the problem with the good old fashioned method of “Shoot them in the face”. It definitely makes the game easier, but two things counteract that: it can be turned off, and you won’t always be able to hit the enemy in question. The tranquilizer pistol has crap range and even the silenced assault rifle can’t hit enemies from too far away. Enemy alert and search phases are now relegated to audio cues as they report in to their command post, and text in the corner alerting you to what they’re doing. This is helpful enough, but it’s worth mentioning that the countdown timer from previous games is gone. Though it’s definitely not the game’s intention, it’s entirely possible to play the game as a shooter, and the controls handle this fine. The shooting is tight and responsive, and the expanded CQC moves help.

Arguably the most important part of the “Metal Gear Solid” series is its story, which is sparse here. The one story mission follows on from “Peace Walker” and involves Big Boss sneaking into Cuba-based US Naval base “Camp Omega” to extract a double agent named Paz and rescue his thirteen-year-old recruit Chico, who went into the base to rescue Paz. Anyone who followed the various trailers for both parts of MGS V will know pretty much what happens here: (SPOILERS FOR IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MGS V TRAILERS) Big Boss’ home base “Mother Base” from “Peace Walker” is destroyed by new villains XOF and Big Boss falls into a nine year coma. The biggest problem here is that the destruction of the base isn’t playable. Granted that was never explicitly stated, but it would have been nice. (SPOILERS END) The cutscenes themselves are far shorter and more concise than in previous games, and the codec conversations and slide-show cutscenes are gone entirely. What you won’t be aware of having watched the trailers are certain plot details, including some particularly dark bits. When series creator Hideo Kojima said MGS V was going to be far darker and more adult than previous games in the series, he wasn’t messing around. Christ was he not messing around. New character Skull Face is easily the most monstrous, villainous antagonist the series has- his badass look, nihilistic speeches and penchant for a whole new level of horrific torture makes him a force to be reckoned with, and I can’t wait to see what Kojima does with him in “The Phantom Pain”. Actor James Horan delivers the best voice acting in the game in this role. Seven collectible tapes recorded by Chico fill in the backstory of his and Paz’s time in the camp before Big Boss arrived, and it’s unpleasant to say the least. This is a genuinely dark, disturbing story, and I’m interested to see where it goes from here.

One big point of contention has been Kiefer Sutherland taking over the roll of Big Boss from series mainstay David Hayter. I’m decidely mixed on the subject. His performance is subtle and fits the tone of the game well, but my question is: if Kojima wanted Sutherland to portray a more measured, older Big Boss, why is he in this game? This game takes place very soon after “Peace Walker”. If Sutherland portrayed Big Boss only in “The Phantom Pain” nine years later, that would make sense. I’m sad to see Hayter go, but I can’t deny Sutherland does a good job.

You probably know whether or not you’re going to buy this game. As a massive “Metal Gear Solid” fan I pre-ordered it some time ago and have been waiting to play it ever since I first saw the trailer. If you’re not already a fan you’re not going to get the greater context of the story and can only really enjoy it at face value, which is a shame because there isn’t a lot here, though what there is is great. I paid £23. 86 for it, which some would consider steep for what you get, but I consider the game worth paying at least something for, and appreciate the price coming down from £50 on Playstation 4.  Whether or nor you want to pay for it is up to you, but do consider it carefully- this is very much quality over quantity in a big way. The gameplay is superb, the graphics amazing and the story fantastic, but there is not a lot here at all, at least in terms of fresh content. The value here comes from replaying the missions, which the game does have- replay value is definitely a factor here, at least for me. Do I recommend it? Yes, if you’re a fan of the series and/or you’re willing to pay for it, and replay the missions a lot to get the most out of it. If not, then this isn’t for you.

Oh, and the use of Joan Baez’s “Here’s to you”? (seen in the trailer) as an integral part of the plot, used to convey various tones and most effectively used for the story’s darkest moments? Beautiful.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18

DLC Review: The Last of Us: Left Behind

So. “The Last of Us” was a game that I had to play through multiple times to fully appreciate it (as can be seen in my original review for it and then later my best and worst of 2013 list), but now I view it very highly, and as such was eagerly anticipating this: the game’s first and indeed only piece of story DLC. Is it a worthy addition to the game? Or just a piece of short, throw-away fluff that doesn’t need to he here? Spoilers for the main game’s story follow.

“Left Behind” focuses entirely on Ellie during two very important times in her life. As advertised it shows what happened to her and her best friend Riley during the events leading up to them both becoming infected, and also, interestingly, includes a section starting from the moment Joel falls from the horse outside the university. She drags him into a shopping mall, locks him away for safety and then begins a hunt for medical supplies. About equal time is given to both scenarios and each one offers a very different tone, different gameplay and scenery, and both are entirely worthy of a place in the game’s overall story. Gameplay hasn’t changed much at all, but the content on display here is a must for anyone enjoyed the main game. I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but if you don’t want to know anything about it all (and indeed I feel that’s the best way to play it) would be advised to play it before reading this review. Also, to get the most out of the DLC, read the tie-in comic “The Last of Us: American Dreams”- it’ll help with some of the things mentioned.

The prequel chapter is largely focused on exploration and dialogue- going more in-depth into Ellie and Riley’s relationship as they skip out of their responsibilities to basically mess around and have fun for a day. The lack of combat gives Naughty Dog opportunity to tell the story in a slightly different way- the optional conversations and the like are still present, but this scenario is a lot more playful and unique, with little touches being used to great effect. For example you play games like breaking car windows with a brick, there’s a small section dedicated to Ellie’s pun book, and a particularly stand-out section that for spoiler reasons I will simply describe as involving an arcade. Of course, if you’ve played the main game (or read the second paragraph of this review) you know how this is going to end, and indeed Ellie’s infection is shown, but despite knowing this is going to happen this section still manages to throw some great surprises your way, and when the dire part of the story it hits as hard as you’d expect. This is arguably the core part of the DLC, and it carries that burden admirably.

Moving on, the winter section of the DLC is a lot more combat-focused, with a generous helping of exploration as well. A lot of it reminded me of the section in which Joel is navigating the hotel basement in Pittsburgh- it’s creepy, intense, and there’s a clear drive to get the hell out of your current location. Story-wise this one doesn’t have a lot going on; there’s an interesting sub-plot featuring soldiers that’s told through notes and corpses which is good while it lasts, and Ellie’s dialogue to herself as she traverses the mall is well-written. Gameplay wise it’s the same as the winter section of the main game- Ellie isn’t as physically capable as Joel, but has all her moves as well as her weapons, and the gameplay is still as satisfying as it was originally. The one new addition to the gameplay is encounters featuring both human enemies and infected, with you acting primarily as an instigator of some good old-fashioned monster in-fighting. It’s used a few times and doesn’t really seem like “one of many options” as much as it seems like the one key that fits in the metaphorical lock, but it is a cool touch.

The one thing that really stands out is how well Ellie is represented as a character. Taken as a whole, the DLC has a great mix of gameplay showing her to be a resourceful badass in the “Joel” mold perhaps to an even greater extent than the Winter chapter and a combined story that shows her to be rounded while going into a key emotional event that shaped her into the person she is in the person she is later on. It shows she could carry a whole game as the main protagonist no problem, and also provides context for a lot of her mannerisms and outlooks in the main game. Also, there’s one rather bold, brief story element during the prequel chapter that adds subtle volumes to the whole thing. I won’t spoil it here.

Overall, “Left Behind” is a wonderful addition to “The Last of Us”. The only problem I can find is that it is rather short for £12 in the UK, though if you bought the season pass it does soften the blow. I didn’t, but I do think the content on offer here is of great quality, which helps. The mix of gameplay between exploration and plot and combat is a good one, and story-wise the whole thing is a great character study that adds depth where it needs to, lets actions speak for words where necessary, explores a touching friendship and the last effects of it, and sheds new light to an established character. If this really is the one piece of story DLC for “The Last of Us”, it’s enough for me, and as DLC generally, it’s pretty damn good. So I recommend it, basically.

By James Lambert
@jameslambert18