Around six months ago Valve released the magnificent The Passing add-on for Left 4 Dead 2, which saw the cast of Left 4 Dead 2 meeting the cast of the original Left 4 Dead. One of the big selling points for fans of the series was that it also saw the death of one of the original game’s characters. At the time Valve promised that within a month or two, they would release another add-on that filled the gaps in the story; specifically detailing how the original characters made their way to New Orleans, and how one of them died.
One of the more interesting promises for this expansion was that it would be available for both Left 4 Dead 1 and 2; the Left 4 Dead 1 version would bring with it the additions from Left 4 Dead 2 – melee weapons and scavenge mode – while the Left 4 Dead 2 version would bring the original game’s cast, and the No Mercy campaign from Left 4 Dead 1, complete with melee weapons and Left 4 Dead 2′s new special infected (The Jockey, Charger, and Spitter).
Before getting too far into this review it is worth noting that The Sacrifice is free to PC owners, while Xbox 360 owners will have to pay 560 Microsoft points (£4.80/$7.00) for each version. This means that if you want the same functionality as the PC version (i.e. be able to play The Sacrifice in Left 4 Dead 1 and 2) it will cost you 1120 Microsoft points (£9.60/$14.00).
With that out of the way, what do you actually get in The Sacrifice? It features a new campaign made up of three acts, taking place in a train station, a dock yard, and the bridge finale from The Passing. Each act is playable in Campaign mode, Versus mode, Survival mode, and Scavenge mode, as you would expect. These new levels are made up of fairly tight corridors and pathways in built up industrial areas, much like the levels from the original Left 4 Dead.
Where they differ is with the intense horde moments, which require you to run as fast as you can as well as completing a specific objective, such as shutting off an alarm or closing a door, while taking out as many zombies as possible. As with the main Left 4 Dead 2 campaigns you can simply stand in one place, but the zombie hordes perpetually respawn, meaning that eventually you will die if you try to stand your ground. This may seem a little unsettling for players of the first Left 4 Dead; their horde moments hinged around staying still in one place and killing a set number of zombies, but it will feel right to players of Left 4 Dead 2.
As well as these horde moments there is one moment in particular that worked really well; in the train yard you come across a derailed train blocking your way. The only way through is to open one of the train compartments. Unfortunately this train was carrying specimens for scientific research, with the particular specimen you come across being a particularly angry Tank.
Upon reaching the finale of this Campaign one of the other new big features of The Sacrifice comes in to play; Zombies attack the generator that is key to your group’s escape. At this point one person must choose to sacrifice themselves in order to allow the team to escape. The actual execution of this potentially powerful moment falls a little flat; when the player chooses to sacrifice themselves the camera angle changes to the third person perspective and all of the colour drains out of the screen, then fade out to the credits. Considering how much they had built up this sacrificial element of the game, I had expected something more substantial.
Graphics: 3/5 Valve’s proprietary Source engine is very clearly showing its age, although the environments are memorable and well designed.
Sound: 4/5 This expansion includes a heap of new dialogue for the original cast members. Yes, Francis still hates everything.
Story: 2/5 The narrative is, in a traditional sense, sparse. Our intrepid band of survivors head to New Orleans on the train because they decide that it would be a good idea to try and find a boat. With said boat they plan on heading out to sea far from the reach of the zombies. However, the series’ written messages on the walls of the safe houses return to fill in a lot of back story.
Gameplay: 3/5 This plays exactly the same as any other Left 4 Dead expansion, aside from the inclusion of the slightly wonky Sacrifice mechanic.
Longevity: 3/5 Each of the three acts of The Sacrifice are playable in 2 player offline co-op, 4 player online co-op, and in each of the game’s modes – Campaign, Survival, Versus, and Scavenge. However, after completing the campaign there is little incentive to play through it again.
Overall 3 Biohazards out of 5
PC owners have no excuse for not downloading this; it offers a few hours of extra gameplay with some new levels and, for owners of Left 4 Dead 1, updated weapons. Xbox owners, however, have the raw deal here; for the same price as the exellent The Passing – which is still offering new game modes through the Mutations mode – The Sacrifice is a delayed and disappointing addition to the Left 4 Dead games.
- Luke Mears