Sunday, September 19, 2010

No Passing Zone

Lately--that is, ever since I put Bayonetta away knowing that killing God would take more time and effort than I had at the moment--I've been playing Left 4 Dead 2 as my go-to leisure time video game. I really enjoy the Left 4 Dead series, though I thought the first one did a better job with some of the ambiance--namely, the writing on the walls in the safe rooms. In the first game, a lot of the writing was darkly humorous, reminiscent of the rat-man's ramblings in Portal; the second game has made the writing a lot more straightforward, and that's kind of disappointing. But, I like the addition of melee weapons a lot, and I dig the increased variety of both normal and special infected, so I play the sequel most of the time.

Brief digression: what really sold me on the series was the way they sidestepped any issues with realism in terms of plot, characterization, or dialogue. Instead of playing a group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse, you're playing as characters in a zombie movie. That subtle difference allows, I think, for much greater suspension of disbelief with respect to the aspects of the story and the stereotypical characters than you'd have if it were all played straight.

Consequently, I was really excited when the new DLC, "The Passing," came out. It offered not only another mission for a game I enjoy, but also had the new survivors meeting up with the survivors from the previous game. Unfortunately, I was flat broke when it came out, so I didn't get to play it early on. I got paid last week, though, so I added some Microsoft Points and picked it up.

And wow, what a disappointment.

I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I'd kind of hoped for some playability to the original survivors. I anticipated online modes with eight survivors against the horde, and I suppose that might have been excessive. But I certainly think it could have been more than it was. The mission has three stages, which is paltry compared to the other levels, which typically have four to six--and the last stage is essentially the same as the end of "Dead Center." The encounter with the original survivors is limited to a couple of cutscenes and cover fire, which is a real let-down, and I think it introduced a grand total of two new weapons. There are some neat new designs for some of the infected, I guess, but overall it really doesn't feel like it was worth $10. When Left 4 Dead 2 came out, people complained that it felt less like a sequel than like DLC add-ons, since it only added new levels, a new weapon mechanic, and a few new infected types. Now, the actual DLC add-on feels like half of what it should be for the price.

I guess what it all boils down to is that I'm much happier with the other thing I spent Microsoft Points on this week: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. Which is pure, unadulterated awesome.

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