Originally due to be released on Xbox 360 in August 2011, Left 4 Dead 2′s final piece of downloadable content, Cold Stream, has finally arrived on the Xbox Marketplace. This piece of downloadable content includes five new campaigns, including four maps from the original Left 4 Dead and the community made Cold Stream map.
As with all of Valve’s downloadable content on Xbox 360, controversy has stuck due to the price point – on Steam it is available for free, while on Xbox 360 it costs 560 Microsoft points (about $7 / €6.70 / £4.80). This is nothing new of course, the same enrage outcry went out when Valve released all of the other Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 downloadable content. Considering the amount of content included, in the opinion of this reviewer, it’s a fairly negligible sum and not really worth getting too worked up over.
As for the campaigns themselves, long time fans of the series will undoubtedly get a thrill from seeing the Left 4 Dead 2 cast running around the ruined air port from, or the zombie infested corn fields of Blood Harvest. As you would expect all new weapons and characters are transposed into the old environments seamlessly – you may even wonder how your survived playing the original Left 4 Dead without melee weapons, Spitters, Chargers, and Jockeys.
As for the Cold Stream campaign itself, while it is perfectly functional, it lacks the attention to detail and the charm of the official Valve made campaigns. Every single wall covered with grafitti that furthered the game’s narrative in Valve’s maps – messages from previous survivors for their loved ones, or warnings about upcoming threats – while Cold Stream has hardly any of this.
Similarly there’s a disappointing lack of new dialogue from the survivors. In previous maps the survivors had a wealth of random dialogue that would be triggered by events – for instance, upon surviving a bombing run by the military, Ellis relays an amusing anecdote about that one time him and his buddy broke into an army base – but in Cold Stream the dialogue has almost zero character. Character exchanges are limited almost exclusively to cries for help or for pointing out ladders or staircases.
As for the map, Cold Stream takes place in a zombie infested forest. The survivors must fight their way through woodlands, sewer tunnels and underground bunkers until they reach a heliport further north. At the end of each chapter, as with all Left 4 Dead levels, there are crescendo moments in which players need to fight their way through massive numbers of zombies to reach the safe room. Cold Stream’s hordes are of an unparallelled size, making these final moments incredibly challenging on every difficulty above easy… which makes it a lot of fun in multiplayer.
The biggest issue I had with this downloadable content is that it does not add any new achievements to the Xbox 360 version. I fully understand that this will likely not bother most people, but, being an achievement whore, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
An added bonus that has come about with the release of this downloadable content is the fact that Valve have released a patch that unlocks all of the multiplayer Mutations. For those unaware, the Mutations were modifiers that changed the basic rules of the gameplay – one Mutation armed all players with chainsaws, while another demanded players carry a garden gnome with them and protect it at all times – that were added with The Passing downloadable content. There are literally dozens of Mutations and now, so long as you own The Passing as well, players can play any Mutation at any time.
Review Round Up:
Graphics: 4/5 - Although Valve’s Source Engine is showing it’s age, Cold Stream has some really wonderful lighting effects, and the zombie character models are richly detailed.
Sound: 4/5 - Brilliant music and strong vocal performances – it’s just a shame that there isn’t more original dialogue.
Gameplay: 5/5 - The best online co-op to date. Tense, challenging, and an absolute blast.
Longevity 5/5 - Five additional maps, although only one is truly new, each playable in every game mode.
Overall 4 out of 5
The Cold Stream campaign itself may have a few issues, namely the lack of entirely original narrative content, but on the whole this is a great map pack that’ll add hours and hours of fun to Left 4 Dead 2.
- Luke Mears