Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing Review
The apocalypse can be a scary place, that’s why it’s always nice to see some familiar faces! In The Passing, the latest DLC for Left 4 Dead 2, your band of merry survivors come across the survivors from the first Left 4 Dead and you work together to get through with most body parts intact. This DLC also throws in a new gun, a new uncommon infected and a snazzy multiplayer mode called Mutation, which I’ll get to later.
The Passing is situated between Dead Centre and Dark Carnival. Chugging along in the stock car they took from the mall, the team come across a bridge which needs to be lowered. They also come across the original survivors. What they’re doing down South might be explained in the upcoming DLC for Left 4 Dead, which acts as a prequel, but for now we’re just glad to have their help. The team need to fit through city streets and sewers to sort out the generator on the other side to get by. The campaign is longer than Crash Course, which felt extremely short, but it’s still shorter than the campaigns that came with the game.
The first area of the campaign is an abandoned city. Doors and windows are boarded up, fences are everywhere setting up quarantines and, of course, there are many zombies milling around. There’s plenty to explore here, and exploration can uncover a lot of hidden treats. Searching the pool hall, you can find references to Dead Rising, 28 Days Later and a few other zombie movies. Wander down a street and, at the end, you can see the tour bus for the fictional band Midnight Riders, hinting that they might still be alive. There’s even an abandoned wedding with a Witch in a tattered wedding dress. Then you drop to the sewers in which you proceed to wade through excrement. Having to run through a pool of crap has its tense moments, especially during the crescendo event. As you wade through a large dark room of poop, there is no cover and zombies attack from all angles. On Realism mode especially, it requires you stick close together. Finally, you end the campaign with a gas collect-a-thon to power the generator but, as opposed to the other less exciting ones, this one offers you covering fire from the original survivors.
It’s definitely not as padded out as the other campaigns. No real events stand out from the rest but it’s just fun to explore and the weather effects, what I can assume was a hurricane, really add to the feel of the apocalypse you’re working through.
The campaign does throw in some interesting new features. There’s a new, powerful gun, but that runs out pretty quickly with ammo being very limited. There are also footlockers scattered around the levels which give you an unlimited supply of a certain item. This offers some interesting gameplay ideas with you having to choose between camping out at your new found stash or powering on. One of the things I really liked about the DLC is the new uncommon infected. We never see any zombies that were potentially survivors, until now. The new uncommon is essentially a zombie decked out with items and health packs so we can assume they were once survivors that fell to the horde. They seem to still have their “flight” attitude in their heads as they run away from the survivors. This, again, brings an interesting choice. Do you leave the group to kill this zombie and get the treats, thus risking separation, or do you stick with your team and leave the zombie alone? This could be an interesting scenario in Versus.
On the narrative front (SPOILERS), The Passing features a canonical death with an original survivor sacrificing themselves, thus the title. But they don’t do it in this campaign, that’s saved for the prequel DLC coming soon. However, this death is sort of brushed over. When I heard of this, I was expecting something much more dramatic but it’s all covered in one conversation. This sort of rubbed me the wrong way because the writers are usually quite good with character interactions. Perhaps, on multiple play-throughs, other aspects might be focused on but the times I played didn’t reveal much.
Mutation is my favourite part of the DLC. Every week, a new mode becomes available replacing the old mode. This allows for Valve created match types such as Jockey races, in which you ride a survivor for the longest, or Chainsaw Massacre, where everyone has a chainsaw and unlimited fuel. It really mixes up the game a lot and is loads of fun.
The Passing is probably worth the price tag for Mutation alone; it really gives you a reason to come back and play each week. Plus, the campaign itself is pretty good and worth a look at. The only problem is the finale has two tanks at once. Seriously Valve? Two tanks? One’s bad enough!