|By Zach Patterson||Thursday, 1 Oct 2009|
This week, Left 4 Dead got new downloadable content in the form of the new campaign/versus mode, Crash Course. While free for the PC, this update cost a sizable 560 MSPoints on 360. Is it worth your time?
Before I answer that, I guess I should say something about L4D itself, since we never reviewed it. In short, while I’m hardly a grizzled veteran or an expert, L4D is the quintessential team co-op game. While it has a interesting versus mode, and survival mode can be fun, co-op campaign is the real reason to get this. It’s great because the game experience is never the same twice and it doesn’t matter if you are pretty awful, as its more about the team working together and having each other’s back than anything else. If you don’t protect your team, you are zombie food. The game also has a variety of special Infected creatures which pretty much take this game above just being “Resident Evil Team Shooter”. There’s monstrous, team-wrecking Tanks, tongue-ensnaring Smokers, moody instant-killing witches, leaping, thrashing Hunters, and bulbous, bloated, bile-spitting Boomer. They can appear at any time and can really turn a dominant run into a total massacre. Overall, this is a fantastic game, but you really need to play with friends or else it’s just not the same.
Now, as for the new content, Crash Course is a pretty fun, if different, map. As opposed to being broken up into 5 parts, it’s instead only 2 parts which are much longer than the usual levels. Additionally, these two areas are a bit different than the rest of the campaigns, as many parts are extremely open and considerably less claustrophobic compared to say, many parts of the No Mercy campaign. The locale is a mixture of city/woods/warehouse, and while not incredibly gaudy or anything, it’s certainly memorable.
The 2 levels themselves are wars of attrition, as at any difficult normal or above, it’s pretty standard to have dropped dead a few times and needing to be revived, and getting to the end with basically no health. With the longer length, they are a lot tougher to breeze through, which is a bit different than the other 4 campaigns, where a couple of the levels are a bit on the easy side. However, this campaign is also very short, taking about half the time of the other ones to complete (about 30-40 mins, give or take). Something tells me that this campaign is a preview of what L4D2′s areas will resemble.
If I have to nitpick (and of course I do), I have to say that for the amount of money paid, it seems like you should get a bit more. I don’t mind paying for downloadable content, but a short scenario feels kind of like I got squeezed a bit on the price. PC owners should rejoice in getting it free. It’s worth paying for, but I think the 360 price was a couple bucks higher than it should have been. Also, compared to the other levels, I noticed that there was a lack of detail in some smaller areas that was disappointing. While the areas are well done for the most part, many of the smaller rooms are generic and look too similar, with almost no personality, which is a sharp contrast from most of the other levels in the game, which seem to have desks and chairs and mugs and look like inhabited rooms. Here, there are a couple rooms that are just bare, white-walled boxes. Finally, some may appreciate the longer levels, but I didn’t all that much. I think it could have easily been 3 parts, or possibly even 4. While it’s intensely satisfying to complete this campaign, it’s also annoying and aggravating to lose right at the end and have to do it all over again. When you are playing with friends that have limited time to play on any given day, it kinda sucks when you blow it at the finale and can’t really give it another go.
On the plus side, they recorded new (and rather amusing) dialogue for this, which was an unexpected but welcome touch. Additionally, the finale in this campaign might be my favorite of any of the campaigns. I feel like there’s about 10 different strategies and place you can hide, and any of them could conceivably work, but this one definitely stresses that you communicate and stick together, because it’s pretty easy to get separated and slaughtered. Additionally, while I haven’t investigated it much, this campaign really works much better as a versus map, as it allows for much faster matches and streamlines the whole thing quite a bit. I’ll probably be able to say more about that after I play some more.
But overall, If you have Left 4 Dead and friends, you probably are already getting this, or have gotten it already. While it’s a bit pricey, the difficulty sometimes wildly varies from one segment to another, and there’s not as much TLC put into it as the other ones, it’s still pretty good in its own right.