Left 4 Dead 2
Support Mark, click to buy via us...
Further reading, films and books that create similar stories:
Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing 360 is a substantial downloadable installment that reintroduces the characters from the first game. It's a must for dedicated Left 4 Dead fans, even if they won't necessarily be happy about what's happened to one of these old favourites.
As discussed in my previous Left 4 Dead 2 review, I love Left 4 Dead 2, a game that provides a great platform to let me play out my zombie apocalypse survival fantasies, with spontaneous stories of victory and defeat emerging from the combination of clever enemy behaviour and the interactions of me and my friends.
The Passing builds on the bedrock of the original game, not only providing a crossover campaign which re-introduces the characters from the first Left 4 Dead, but introducing new twists on the game that create further possibilities.
The new campaign weaves its way into the existing Left 4 Dead storyline. Set between Dead Center and Dark Carnival, it sees our heroes stuck at a bridge controlled by three of the Left 4 Dead characters. Before these old friends can pull the lever to allow the players to cross, fuel needs to be added to a generator. Needless to say, the route to the generator is a hazardous one, and that final refuelling won't be easy...
The Passing's campaign does offer some texture to the world that fills out the storytelling.
While it's mainly filling in gaps in the existing narrative, The Passing's campaign does offer some texture to the world that fills out the storytelling. There's some more safe-room grafitti (with some great in-jokes), and the environments tell a tale of a prosperous, French-style district that the zombies and military have criss-crossed, with supply boxes scattered throughout.
There's limited interaction between the two sets of characters (and no explanation as to what happened to the missing member of the original fab four - questions will be answered in a separate DLC update for the original Left 4 Dead), but while the characters from part 1 aren't playable, they do provide heavy fire support during a hectic firefight finale.
The real storytelling in the Passing is, as ever, in the opportunities it provides for me and my fellow players to fail or prosper, and there are a couple of great, dramatic moments available here - a dash through a darkened sewer, water slowing the players down as zombies splosh towards them, is a notably traumatic interlude.
Outside of the main campaign, new modes offer new opportunities. Valve are rolling out weekly 'mutations', variant game modes available for a short period which players can vote to bring back permanently.
The real storytelling in the Passing is, as ever, in the opportunities it provides for me and my fellow players to fail or prosper.
So far these have leaned towards the harsh: for example Realism Versus, in which players only have line-of-sight visibility as the survivors and are therefore more vulnerable to being picked off; or Bleed Out, where the survivors are dying from the off, without health packs and with only doses of pills to top up their steady loss of vitality.
While they might not be everyone's idea of fun - Bleed Out in particular is brutal, and I very rarely got a short distance into each level before dying horribly - but they do increase the drama and sense of precarious survival in the game.
For the Left 4 Dead 2 fanatic, these new game modes provide an even greater sense of threat to a game that already makes great capital out of the thrill of battling enormous odds to win through.
Overall, the Passing is a great expansion for a great game. Don't let it pass you by.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: