Saturday, October 6, 2012

Left 4 Dead 2: Cold Stream

Community Created Cold Stream DLC

I know it's been out for a while, but it's time for my review of the community-created Left 4 Dead 2 DLC: Cold Stream. Cold Stream features a new, community-driven and created campaign. And while some have written off the campaign as amateurs at work, I'd argue it's a remarkable first attempt and will only get better over time. Because you just know Valve will continue this practice for their die-hard fans. The community loved the project and despite a few snarky nay-sayers, the campaign came together pretty well in my books. So here are some things I agree with and disagree with in response to some of the reviews out there.

Cold Stream Gameplay Youtube vid by deluxe345

Cold Stream: Some Things Should Never Change

Tanks will still seemingly materialize out of no where and rampage after you and your online pals in a berserk er frenzy. The new guy who always manages to shoot or smash a car and triggering the dreaded alarm will still do so, and all the special infected will be there to make you feel comfortable while spitting "goo shit", french kissing you without buying your dinner first, hitching a piggie-back ride, and otherwise jumping you and mauling your face. As it should be.

Cold Stream: Unbalanced? Too Hard? Get Over It!

One complaint people seem to have with Cold Stream is the almost random and unbalanced spike in difficulty in certain intervals. I highly disagree. If anything, there were only a few instances here and there that seemed a bit harsh; but hey, it's a zombie survival game, what's the fun in just running and gunning like there's nothing to it? If it's too much, go play a different shooter, one that has a built-in mommy to hold you hand and fight your battles for you.

Cold Stream's Visuals: What Did You Expect?

Another complaint is the visuals. Now, I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, comparatively, it's a bit lacking compared to what the developers of the game put together. But then I think, well, what did we expect? You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who can do something you've been working on for years only even better, even if you gave them the tools that chances are slim. Let's cut these people some slack. I'm actually surprised at how well the visuals turned out.

Kicking it with some Old Friends with New Toys

Cold Stream features five campaigns. Four of the five campaigns are recycled levels from the original Left 4 Dead with the first survivors: Francis, Bill, Louis, and Zoey. Though these levels are recycled, they have seen some visual touch-ups. And like Left 4 Dead 2, you can kill the new Special Infected, use melee weapons, and so on, even while playing as the original survivors. At first I thought big deal. But when you look at what other developers have done, this doesn't seem bad at all. For the price of admission, it's almost a steal compared to so many many games out there that recycle old content and slap on $20+ dollars or more.

The Calm before the Storm

Now, there are some things I agree with when it comes to what this game lacks. Cold Stream absolutely emphasizes constant and frantic spraying of hordes with lead. There are very few "Calm before the storm" moments in which you know something big is about to go down, and you and your friends will have to restock, heal up, and discuss a plan of defense and attack.

Lacking Atmosphere? 

The second thing I agree with is that there is a certain lack of atmosphere to the new campaign when compared to what the developers have done. I know some tweaks have been made for the Xbox 360 launch and all, but even then I find it somewhat lacking. Part of what made the developer's Left 4 Dead campaigns so fun and immersing to play were those in-between parts of the level where you and your pals are cautiously going around, praying there's not something waiting for you around that next corner, and then frantically turning off the lights at the lament of a Witch somewhere in the next room or through the foggy haze in the distance.

Left 4 Dead 2 Cold Stream DLC Final Verdict

Cold Stream is a campaign to be proud of. Yes, there isn't as much strategy required. And yes, it may lack the same suspense and atmosphere of the developer's campaigns, and  the pacing might focus just a little too much on the constant run and gun scenario. But what you have at its core is a well done and excited community-created campaign that's fun to play with your friends. It's not perfect by any means, but it's a good start. the Cold Stream DLC earns a 6 out of 10.

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