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Left 4 Dead 2 – The Passing Review (Xbox 360)

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Left 4 Dead 2 is quite the popular game.  Valve, the kings of consistently upgrading their games, have added a new level to the blockbuster title.  The Passing is a new campaign for L4D2 that takes place between the Dead Center and Dark Carnival stages.  It tasks you with lowering a drawbridge in order to escape Georgia using Jimmy Gibbs’ stock car.  As you’ve probably heard, it contains a much-hyped cameo by the cast of L4D1.  If you own the PC version, in all likelihood, you’ve already downloaded and beaten The Passing, which was made available for free, and has probably been the most heavily-played campaign since its release.  Unfortunately for my 360-owning brethren, they must agonize over whether or not to drop their $7 on the new level.  Here’s my take on it.

The Passing is a three-part campaign.  All three parts are distinct from any other part of the game, having you fight through a city, wade through its sewers and then battle massive hordes of zombies alongside the L4D1 crew.  It’s relatively short, though, and even the much-hyped meeting with the L4D1 crew fails to live up to its billing, and is basically a shout-out at the beginning and end of the campaign.  While the level itself is solid, it’s too short, doesn’t really make much of the opportunity it had with the crossover and doesn’t really evolve the gameplay in a particularly huge way, outside a couple new weapons (a Halo 3-style machine gun and a new melee weapon, a golf club). 

What The Passing does do, however, is offer up a great time in Versus mode.  All three levels have those moments that make for a memorable Versus match, whether it’s playing as a Charger and lining up a perfect shot to send all four survivors flying, playing as a Smoker and getting that perfect grab that separates an unfortunate player from their team or jumping off the top of a building as a Hunter and landing smack-dab on a stray opponent.  There are also plenty of Tanks to be had.  Everyone loves playing as a Tank.

Whether or not you should buy this game depends entirely on how much you like L4D2.  The campaign on its own doesn’t offer as much as, say, seven songs from the Rock Band Network, half of Trials HD or many of the other expansions for your favorite games.  If your copy of L4D2 is buried under a pile of other titles, The Passing isn’t so great that you should scramble over and dig it up.  But if you still love L4D2, The Passing is probably worth picking up…assuming you don’t have the PC version.

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