Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing DLC

Based on my review of Left 4 Dead 2, you would be right to assume that I was pretty geeked for the recently released DLC pack dubbed “The Passing.”  Now that the wait is over was my excitement justified?  Yes.

This DLC pack brings us the long-awaited passing(get it?) of the survivors from Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2.  Without giving anything away and to get it out-of-the-way, I’ll just say this is a bit of a let down.  The meeting occurs within the new campaign.  The actual campaign is a bit short, only 3 sections.  The sections are lengthy, but not long enough to make up for the lack of parts.  It’s nice that it can be played so quick, but I would have liked this new campaign to be a bit meatier.

Now that the negative is out-of-the-way, let’s talk about everything else the pack brings because it’s all awesome.  The new campaign is broken up into new maps for versus and survival.  Most people still playing L4D2 would agree new maps for versus mode is always a welcome addition.  These new maps function well within survival mode as well.  They are fairly wide open and provide a lot of interesting match-ups, especially the third one.

Alright, now to the meatiest part of the DLC, mutations.  Mutations are one-off custom game types created by Valve each week.  Every Thursday a different game type will be available to replace the current one.  The first week we were treated to realism versus which is basically just a match of versus with realism mode enabled.  This gave the infected a huge advantage, specifically the Jockey.  This forces the survivors to play the game in a different way than they would in normal versus where the two sides are balanced.

So basically mutations give an endless amount of modes and re-playability available to the players.  If you’re tired of versus, survival, or campaign, check back every Thursday to see what’s new.  At least you can never complain about a lack of new content in Left 4 Dead 2 from now on. However, you have to download the passing for mutations to be available on your game but once you do they’ll be available forever.

Mutations are a game changer folks.  That mode itself makes this pack worth it.  Download The Passing now, it’s only 560 points.  That’s a good damn deal sucka.

Written by Cool-C

Also check out Neutrally Chaotic’s review of Left 4 Dead 2

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Left 4 Dead Too; or How Zombies Party Down South

Eliis Owns All Zombie Faces

As a huge fan of the original Left 4 Dead, I was extremely geeked for the sequel and I’m here to tell you it does not disappoint.  First off, a little background for those unfamiliar with the original Left 4 Dead. These games follow a group of four survivors as they take on the zombie apocalypse. In this sequel, four new survivors fight their way through the South.

The major draw (other than zombie head shots) is the Director because it creates infinite game possibilities.  The director constantly keeps you on your toes by creating a different experience each play through.  Zombie hordes come in different places, items are hidden differently and special infected come from all new angles and pairings.  That means supreme awesome and tons of re-playability.  The director is much improved this time around but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.  At times, the director can be downright brutal.

Speaking of special infected this game brings a set of new zombies to the fight including the crazy annoying Jockey, the ultra gross Spitter and the take no prisoner Charger.  The original special infected received a face-lift as well with two different varieties of Boomers and Witches.  Gone are the days where you could just quietly walk around the witch.  That crazy fool will actually walk around the map and even follow you until you take her out.  Plan accordingly with your team.

Left 4 Dead 2 focuses even more on the” stay together to survive aspects” of the first game.  Communication is vital.  Luckily, you can bring three friends to the fight via XBOX Live.  This is especially important because the combination of a beefed up director, improved zombie AI, and dumbed down survivor AI really knocks the difficulty up a notch.  You can expect to be fighting off a horde while fending off a Charger, Jockey, Hunter and a Boomer.  Basically, you do not want to rely on the survivor AI in this one.  You need to be able to talk to your team or you can expect to be on the business end of some major pwnage.  That being said, you’ll be glad the AI is there when a teammate drops out or the connection fails and your knee-deep in zombies.

Chainsaw = awesome

Last but not least, the addition of melee weapons really turns this game up to eleven.  You’re lying if you’ve never thought about cracking a zombie in the head with a guitar or slicing up a horde with a katana.  That dream is now a reality and I couldn’t be happier.  The game makes you choose between melee weapon or pistol, but that’s a no-brainer when you’re looking at a chainsaw (see above).  Sure it’s impractical, but are you really going to have time to think about that? Answer…… no.  And are you going to love every second of hitting zombie after zombie with a frying pan? Answer…… absolutely yes.  Unless, you’re a zombie apologist then you’ll hate it and I would further ask why in the world did you buy this game?

One of my main gripes with the original is that there wasn’t much variety in the level design.  That is no longer an issue here as each campaign has a completely different look.  Adding to that, the new crew of survivors has a lot more personality and interact with each other much more often.  Clearly, much more time was spent making the levels more alive, which is ironic in a game about the living dead but you get the point.

Finally, be prepared to log a serious amount of time because there is an overabundance of game modes including the new scavenge  and realism modes.  Versus, survivor and co-op campaign modes all return.  For those keeping score that’s a billion different ways to ‘splode zombies.  Add in the fact that these are all played via Live and you’re looking at a seriously entertaining experience all around.

The good:  The addition of new special infected, melee weapons, new survivors, improved director, tons of game modes and five all-new campaigns means this is clearly the best zombie game out there and one you’ll be playing well into next year.

The bad: The combination of an improved director, smarter zombie AI, and dumbed down survivor AI mean this game can be downright brutal at times.

The decision: Buy Buy Buy!! Left 4 Dead 2 is improved in every way while maintaining the vision of the original Left 4 Dead.  All in all, if you’re looking for a zombie game, look no further than Left 4 Dead 2.

Review written by Cool-C

Want another opinion?

Read Neutrally Chaotic’s review

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Left 4 Dead 2; or How AI Will Bring About the Zombie Apocalypse

First off, it’s important to note that I am a big fan of the original Left 4 Dead. It is one of the few games where I don’t feel inclined to mute everyone on my team at the start of the game (even though most of the time, my teammates still insist on screaming into their mics or breathing as if they’ve just run a half mile). Frantic cries of “Oh God!” aside, I think the whole video game community should be thanking L4D creator Valve for making a game that actually uses voice communication for what it was intended: to communicate (somewhat) intelligibly.

That being said, my impression of Left 4 Dead 2 is mixed. While certainly not a broken game by any stretch of the imagination, there are some definite flaws to balance out the brilliance. This wouldn’t be so upsetting if this game wasn’t a sequel, because the same problems I had with Left 4 Dead seemed to have been carried into Left 4 Dead 2, and it feels as if Valve was trying to distract us with new content without fixing the old problems.

And there is certainly enough new content in Left 4 Dead 2 to keep returning fans and newcomers busy for awhile. The spitter, the jockey, and the charger join everyone’s favorite undead zombie crew from the first game, and the enemy AI is relentlessly awesome. Playing through a campaign on even the normal difficulty proved to be entertaining: more often than not, special infected controlled by the AI would attack in tandem, and these new zombies work best when they work together. (It’s almost as if there’s a theme to this game….)

For example, at one point I found myself pinned by a charger, getting the wit knocked out of my character’s never-closing mouth (which I particularly enjoyed, since I was playing as Ellis, who truly gets on my nerves), when—as if just to add insult to injury—the spitter and boomer come out and both contribute to the gore, making a sticky, stinky mess of zombie love. And the best part? I wasn’t frustrated at all. It was my own damn fault for running ahead of my friends.

But see, that is precisely the problem. Because I was only playing with one other friend, there were two AI controlled survivors, and as fun as it is to fight against the AI zombies, it is equally frustrating to play with the AI humans. Even though the AI aren’t the worst in the game, it does seem like they’ve been dumbed down quite a bit. I would’ve liked a balance between the near-omniscient, I-am-going-to-shoot-this-hunter-through-a-wall AI from L4D and the annoying I’m-going-to-watch-this-charger-beat-you-against-the-ground-because-it’s-fun AI in L4D2.

Ridiculous adjectives aside, this was the most frustrating part of the game for me. I can handle shooting at the occasional zombie and somehow missing an entire clip (I know it can’t all be me); it doesn’t bother me that there is still that zombie every now and then that stands above you, preventing you from moving while you wonder why the hell your screen keeps flashing red. The AI is just dumb. Maybe this is Valve stereotyping the South? I don’t know—I don’t want to start conspiracy theories, but it certainly made me miss Bill, Zoe, Francis, and Louis, who at least managed to punch infected off of me instead of patting the undead on their decomposing backs like this new group of survivors.

This wouldn’t be such an issue usually for me. After all, like the last Left 4 Dead I imagine myself playing this almost exclusively online. Have a problem with the stupid AI? Fix it by adding people who will be (presumably) smarter than the computer. But here’s the thing—I shouldn’t feel like begging teammates to not quit during Versus matches because I’m terrified of the idiocy lurking behind those survivors’ blood-splattered faces. When you look at those characters, you can almost see the game’s AI plotting, waiting to ruin your team as soon as there are connection issues or someone bails out of the game. And when the inevitable does happen—when your friend or some stranger quits your team and the name above your ally turns from xXxHALOFR3AKxXx to Ellis—you know you’ve pretty much lost the match.

Thank goodness that there is the new Scavenger mode, which certainly reduces the amount of investment you have to put into each game. Instead of multiplayer being an hour long affair, you can just as easily hop into Scavenger mode for some quick action. However, it’s just disappointing that the AI in Left 4 Dead 2 is just still so annoying, especially since the infected AI seems to be so much better.

In short, get the game and get friends. The zombie apocalypse wasn’t meant to be faced with computer-controlled idiots. After all, in most apocalyptic scenarios, isn’t it the computers that usually blow us up?

The good: probably the best zombie game out there (including the original); great new multiplayer modes and new content should keep the hunger for brains going strong.

The bad: the survivor AI will annoy you (if for no other reason than the zombie AI is so much improved); some old problems cling on from the last iteration like the jockey on a survivor.

The decision: Buy—just make sure you have friends that keep the same hours as you.

Review written by Neutrally Chaotic

Want another opinion?

Read Cool-C’s review

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