One of the most novel moments in The Passing, the first downloadable add-on for Left 4 Dead 2, is when Coach, Ellis, Nick, and Rochelle encounter the survivors from the original Left 4 Dead. There's an amusing bit of dialogue, but the interaction is brief, and soon you and your Southern survivors are off into the zombie-infested streets on your quest for rescue. The new campaign is as long as the others and has some nice touches, but it's too familiar to be a big selling point. The draw here is Mutations, a mode that features new gameplay variations each week. If the promise of fresh challenges each week appeals to you, then you're in good hands with The Passing.
The Passing campaign is divided into three sections, the first of which kicks off with the aforementioned encounter. Faced with an impassable bridge, the survivors must make their way across the river to start up the generator so they can proceed. The first section takes place in an urban area, and you travel through buildings and alleys reminiscent of the Parish campaign. The rainstorm gimmick from Hard Rain is in effect here, though the wet, foggy look fares better in those suburban environs than in The Passing. The park wedding scene and the amusing graffiti in a pool hall bathroom add some variety, but this section is still very familiar. The second section heads underground for some close quarters combat and poop jokes, and the third and final section plays like one long game of Scavenge in which you collect gas cans with a little help from your new friends. The Passing is a solid campaign, though it lacks the unique locations and strong environmental variety of its predecessors.
There are some new elements here, including a rare new gun, a new uncommon common infected, and handy footlockers. These additions are neat, but the best new element is Mutations mode. Promising new gameplay variants every week, Mutations has already shown a tendency toward making things tough on survivors. The first week was Realism Versus, a mode that saddled the survivors with Realism restrictions while still letting the infected see character silhouettes. This week, Bleed Out makes any campaign tougher by constantly draining your health at a steady rate. While not all of the variations may be to your liking, there's no denying that the promise of new modes each week is an appealing one.
The Passing isn't must-have downloadable content for anyone who ever enjoyed Left 4 Dead 2, but it is certainly enjoyable. Though the new campaign isn't as awesome as those that came before it, there is still a lot of fun to be had in traversing new terrain and hearing new banter. Mutations is great for folks who enjoy a regular dose of zombie shooting but get tired of the same old modes. If you are still enjoying Left 4 Dead 2, or have a hankering to get back into the apocalypse, spending 560 Microsoft points ($7) on The Passing is a good bet.