Review: Left 4 Dead 2: The Sacrifice (Microsoft Xbox 360)

Left 4 Dead 2: The Sacrifice
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Valve Software
Genre: First Person Shooter
Release Date: 10/06/2010

Given the current trends, I think many people expected to be following coverage for an upcoming November release of Left 4 Dead 3. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint everyone who wanted to participate in this year’s boycott, but there doesn’t appear to be a sequel releasing this year. Instead, what we have is some more DLC for not only the L4D2 crowd, but for the L4D1 fans as well! But is it any good?

I’m not going to get into the specifics of the game mechanics as they have already been covered in Mark’s Left 4 Dead 2 Review. If you’ve ever played either game in the series, you pretty much know what to expect as far as gameplay goes. If you download the version for Left 4 Dead 2, you will actually receive two different campaigns. The first, as the title suggests, is called The Sacrifice, and it brings back the characters from the original Left 4 Dead. That’s right, the survivors Bill, Francis, Zoey, and Louis make a return appearance and have an opportunity to try out some of the new mechanics and melee weapons for themselves.

The Sacrifice opens with the survivors riding in on a train and commenting on how they want to take a boat to the Florida keys. According to them, society would never take them back into the fold and their best option is to fortify an island. As Bill so gracefully puts it: “To the best of my knowledge, zombies can’t swim.” It’s your job to guide the survivors to the harbor in order to make this happen.

I was happy to see this cast return from the original, if for no other reason than to hear more of Francis and Bill’s humorous banter. I played Left 4 Dead pretty hardcore when it was first released and the characters resonate much more with me than the cast of Left 4 Dead 2. It doesn’t help that the second game’s characters are largely forgettable save Ellis, whose remarks come across as a greatest hits compilation of Jeff Foxworthy stand up. Interpret that how you like.

If you’ve already purchased the DLC for The Passing, then you already know how The Sacrifice is going to end. In fact, you can tell just by the name of the campaign how it will inevitably conclude. Even so, I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that the finale doesn’t necessarily have to play out just one way.

The second campaign that you are given is No Mercy, which you might recognize as one of the campaigns that was present in the original game. While the stages themselves are largely unchanged, since you are playing them in L4D2‘s engine, you can now play through them with all the new melee weapons, items, and special infected intact. It’s also far longer than the campaign this DLC is named after, containing five stages to The Sacrifice‘s measly three. They are still a lot of fun, and you are getting two campaigns for the price of one, I just wish there was a little more in terms of new content.

In addition to the campaigns, you will also be given new maps to play on in the other game modes, such as Versus or Survival. The first of the Survival maps featured in The Sacrifice sticks you in a trainyard with a Tank rampaging inside one of the train cars. This map startled me the first time I attempted it, since you can hear the Tank roaring as soon as you start. My dog got startled too, as he woke up from his slumber and started growling. The worst part is having to be the guy that has to open the train car door, since you will be the first victim of the Tank’s onslaught as soon as he gets free. The other map you get from this campaign takes place in the same area as the finale, so if you go through the campaign one time, you’ll know what to expect from this. There’s just less running around and more frantically shooting everything that moves.

I never played the Survival mode much on the original Left 4 Dead, so I’m not sure if the No Mercy maps are exactly the same or not. The first takes place in the area of the second stage where you have to hold out while a door opened in the campaign. The second map places you on the rooftop of the hospital where the finale and rescue takes place. These maps have also been updated with the Left 4 Dead 2 items.

Now the first thing you may realize at this point, is that since the L4D2 version of this DLC has two campaigns, one of which was present in L4D1, that would in turn mean that the L4D1 buyers are only getting one campaign. This assessment would be correct. I actually wanted to try it using my copy of L4D1 just so I could see how the experience was different. It turns out that Microsoft considers the L4D1 and L4D2 versions of The Sacrifice to be two separate downloads. When I went to access it in the first game, it wanted to charge me again!

Which brings me to my next point. Is this worth the purchase? It costs 560 Microsoft Points, which equates to about $7. Not only that, but The Sacrifice is only three stages long, the third of which is just a finale and nothing more. The other campaign isn’t even new content. Don’t get me wrong, both campaigns are fun and despite how short they are, they merit multiple playthroughs with your buddies. However, it’s hard to recommend this on the Xbox 360 when you consider that Steam users get these campaigns and maps for free. In fact, you can buy the full Left 4 Dead 2 game with all of the available DLC for under the $7 it would cost you to just purchase this DLC on the Xbox 360. I’m not faulting Valve for this, because I know that they have little to do with the pricing on the Xbox Live Marketplace. I really hope Microsoft will realize how ludicrous their pricing strategy is when Valve makes the jump to Playstation 3, because I’m betting Sony would love to have this content on their console for little to nothing.

Now I’m not so conceited as to think I’m entitled to free content all the time. Quite the contrary. I’m surprised Valve doesn’t charge for the Steam version of this, because they deserve something for putting out new campaigns and maps for their player base. I cannot justify $7 for just this content though. If you play the Left 4 Dead games hardcore, and need any new content that you can get your hands on, then you may see the value in this purchase. As for me, until some of these DLC packs drop to about $1 or $2 on the marketplace, I think I will pass. It may be called The Sacrifice, but it will be anything but my wallet.

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