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Review: Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing

by Tim Turi on Apr 23, 2010 at 01:45 PM

When Valve announced Left 4 Dead 2’s first DLC, “The Passing,” I was extremely excited to see the original cast of Left 4 Dead appear in the game. Reuniting with Zoey, Francis, Bill, and Louis was a good selling point. After getting my hands on the completed add-on, I believe the new content will appeal to players differently depending on what type of zombie slayer they are.

The Passing has Coach, Rochelle, Nick, and Ellis trekking through and underneath an infected small town in rural Georgia. This serving of zombie-fueled destruction is shorter than any of the other campaigns, weighing in close to L4D 1’s Crash Course DLC with only three chapters. Versus mode, however, gets a far more substantial boost which is sure to make diehard L4D 2 multiplayer fans happy.

After escaping a mall via racecar at the conclusion of Left 4 Dead 2’s Dead Center campaign, the survivors’ progress is halted by a raised bridge. Three of the original L4D 1 survivors greet the new crew, and though I won’t give away which one kicked the bucket, I will admit the remaining gang provides plenty of witty banter. After some laughs, you’re off to find the generator to power the bridge.

Environments in The Passing are some of the best in the series. Slogging through abandoned construction sites and whacking undead with a golf club while a teammates provide cover with a beefy M60 is great. Several situations present branching paths which build tension as the survivors easily become separated. The journey eventually leads through the sewers, complete with a slow and suspenseful waterlogged (I hope it’s water) saferoom run while a zombie horde pursues. With a conclusion similar to Dead Center, the survivors collect gas cans scattered around a large area to fuel a generator. This time the remaining L4D 1 survivors offer much needed cover fire. Seeing some of the original survivors again is cool, but the lack of real interaction makes it feel like a squandered opportunity. What’s worse, a capable team can finish the entire level in only about 45 minutes.

Though the cooperative campaign feels a little light, fans of L4D 2’s competitive multiplayer will find much to love about the new locale. Plenty of chokepoints present great ambush spots for the infected. As a smoker, I found infinite joy wrangling stragglers off precarious walkways. Dozens of small rooms make great infected spawn points. Divergent paths present great opportunities for jockeys to enforce detours on survivors. The new Mutation mode presents weekly gameplay tweaks to encourage replay. This week it’s Realism Versus, and you’ve got a fatal situation where the survivors have no glowing auras but the infected can see all. Needless to say, it’s brutal. I can’t wait to see more gameplay variants such as infinite chainsaw mode.

Left 4 Dead 2’s Scavenge and Survival modes also receive a kick start with three new maps. One area is similar to the The Parish’s Park map, another takes place between compartmentalized buildings, and one is basically the final generator climax. These new locals will provide hours of thrills for players that already love the mode.

The Passing runs Xbox 360 owners 560 Microsoft points ($7), but I would only recommend dropping the money if you love the game’s multiplayer. For co-op minded 360 users looking for the same fun of Dark Carnival or Hard Rain, the asking price is a bit high. PC owners, however, should download it immediately because the DLC is free via Steam. Happy zombie hunting!