Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing

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                Though developers Valve are still promising to support the original Left 4 Dead with new downloadable content (DLC), it’s the turn of Left 4 Dead 2 to get it’s very first DLC pack, The Passing. Available now on PC and Xbox 360, The Passing brings the now traditional new map, new Achievements and a couple of new weapons, but there’s another couple of surprises which lend a unique perspective on how Valve intends on cultivating the franchise between the fanbases of both games.

                The three maps included within The Passing are very well designed, surprisingly so in fact. As good as the path layout and arrangement of scenery and objects has always been, The Passing features what is obviously a product of experience. Twisting corridors lead into open spaces, up stairs and over makeshift bridges before bringing the player back into the dark alleys. The tension is palpable on the tougher difficult settings, as The Passing shows Left 4 Dead at it’s best.

                 There’s little difference in the multiplayer modes, with many spaces having been designed specifically for certain activities – filling an engine with fuel for Scavenger, Tight winding paths in-and-out of buildings and up and down stairs for Survival, and straight runs through open areasElectronic Theatre Image for Versus. The Passing is so well designed an addition to Left 4 Dead 2, that simply the new campaign could be considered satisfying, but the DLC pack also offers a new melee weapon in the form of a golf club, a new automatic firearm, foot lockers brimming with supplies and a new uncommon infected.

                All of these additions are tied into the new Achievements, for which The Passing is quite generously equipped. Along with the usual survive the campaign and kill enemies with the new weapons additions, The Passing adds new Achievements for activities players may well already be engaged in, as well as the welcome hidden interactive object that Left 4 Dead 2 featured throughout each of its original campaigns. The Passing also features the remaining cast of the original Left 4 Dead in a few brief moments of chatter, as well as your aid in a point of conflict, throwing out yet another interesting opportunity for a new Achievement.

                The most immediate new addition to Left 4 Dead 2 that The Passing DLC pack brings however, is are those which appear directly on the main menu. Along with the new Mutation mode heading up the mode select bar, and in game Blog appears with the options and Achievements menus, promising to be updated every Thursday with the details of the next Mutation commencing on Fridays. Mutation mode is a tweaked and manipulated version of the game rules that can apply in any game mode. “Realism Versus” is the first week’s gameplay mode, offering the infected a very friendly advantage. In addition to the mutations updates, the blog will occasionally offer surveys and such, giving Valve a direct point of contact with their fanbase. Though only available to those with The Passing DLC, Mutation mode will be set across any, and possibly every map.

                Of course, much of The Passing’s appearance remains the same as with Left 4 Dead 2 itself, but there does appear to be a little room for improvement. Along with the new uncommon infected, there seems to be a few new skins for the common infected. Many areas are noticeablyElectronic Theatre Image more detailed than the on-disc maps, and though at a distance, the character models of the original Left 4 Dead cast have certainly been improved.

                Though The Passing is offered as a free update to PC gamers, the console market is very different, and such a generous addition would certainly raise eyebrows in the publisher circles. Few gamers will begrudge the 560 Microsoft Points required for entry when The Passing is such a fine example of what made the Left 4 Dead formula so great to begin with. Developers and publishers may still be finding their feet with the relatively new distribution channel that is DLC, but in The Passing, Valve has once again proved to be far ahead of the curve.


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