Since when did publishers review expansion packs? Since now, dammit. There are few games more addicting than Valve's zombie apocalypse Left 4 Dead series and in true Valve fashion, the first expansion for Left 4 Dead 2 oozes fresh content including new levels, weapons, enemies, and gamemodes. Lovingly titled "The Passing", the expansion places Ellis, Nick, Coach, and Rochelle in a small Georgia town chronologically between the Dead Center and Dark Carnival campaigns. The survivors find themselves at an impass when the only available bridge across a major river is locked down, similar to the finale stage of The Parish campaign. They must navigate crowded streets, sewers, and abandoned construction sites in order to reach the other side of the river and lower the bridge so they can continue driving towards Whispering Oaks.
Die-hard fans will appreciate the surprise encounters between the survivors and the original cast from Left 4 Dead. Though brief, this crossing eventually helps the survivors reach their destination in the Dark Carnival. But story aside, this expansion is all about the gameplay. Beginning at the locked-down bridge, you'll find yourself armed with only pistols and melee weapons, much like the start of the Dead Center campaign. This particular scenario provides more challenge, however, as the survivors must navigate an open river-front town and public park rather than narrow hotel hallways. That means slicing and dicing your way through lots of zombies won't be nearly as scoped as in Dead Center.
This is really the start of a beautiful level design that persists throughout The Passing campaign. Though the other four chapters from Left 4 Dead 2 are thoroughly entertaining and provide a more balanced and satisfying multiplayer experience, they did feel somewhat pale compared to our fond memories from the original Left 4 Dead. The Passing seems to improve on nearly all these aspects and truly feels like a brand new experience that combines positive elements from both generations. Pathways are plentiful and delicately twisted. Buildings layouts are less repetitive and more flushed out. Although there aren't very many instant-death locations, there is no question that the multiplayer experience is white-knuckled for survivors. More complex structural designs force the group to navigate debris and clutter while fighting off infected attacks. This is balanced out in part by the fact that much of the campaign occurs indoors, reducing the potential for airborne assaults.
Eventually the survivors will have to traverse underground to reach the other side of the river. This expanse of the campaign is particularly atmospheric as you will find yourself navigating pitch black reservoirs that dwarf the brief sewer in The Parish campaign. Not to mention that there is also a run-through zombie event that will force your team to traverse the darkness while under constant attack. All of these endeavors lead up to a finale that, while not earth shattering, does provide additional mutliplayer fun. For those of you who have yet to play The Passing, we don't want to give away any spoilers.
Read on to see all the goodies that The Passing has to offer...
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