So I finally got around to playing the beta of the latest official campaign for Left 4 Dead 2 called “Cold Stream”, which was released on March 22nd. The final version will be released along with the other four Left 4 Dead campaigns (Crash Course, Death Toll, Dead Air, and Blood Harvest) presumably some time after the release of Portal 2 on April 19th. One thing to note is that the creator of “Cold Stream” is the same person who created 2 Evil Eyes.
First off I would like to say that I enjoyed this campaign. However, there were several things that annoyed me throughout my play-through. The setting of “Cold Stream” is in some forest-like area with lots of trees and, to no surprise, streams, which are an integral part of the campaign. While the setting at first may have you going “oooh” and “ahhh” the truth is that the entire campaign looks exactly the same from the beginning to end more or less. Sure there are deviations like a sewer and a bridge but these are areas are too short lived. The stream sections are interesting at first but are over-used and repetitive; it is also very easy to get stuck on the various rocks and nooks throughout the streams. They are also very straightforward and provide no real challenge in navigating them (besides getting stuck now and then). The lack of any change in atmosphere adds to the feeling that you’re playing one giant level rather than a campaign. The special events also fall victim to this apparent lack of creativity. Nearly everything involves some sort of explosion–whether it be blowing up barrels, blowing up rocks, blowing up oil tankers, or blowing up bridges, there are simply too many Michael Bay-like explosions. There are also too many car segments that involve jumping and climbing. Speaking of which, it seems like when you’re not running down streams, you’re climbing; for example, besides the aforementioned cars, there are sequences where you must climb a wooden ladder, climb out of a sewer, climb up a bridge, climb down a bridge, and even climb to get into the rescue helicopter at the finale.
While there may seem like there are a lot of problems with “Cold Stream”, it is still in its beta form, and Valve is taking suggestions and feedback to smooth things out for the final release. There are some great ideas being thrown around, and I’m sure Valve will definitely integrate some of them. I think after reading what I have wrote that the ultimate problem is lack of variety. I loved the part which involved traversing a strong current and delving into sewer; however, as mentioned earlier, this part is short lived. Perhaps they should turn this into an entire level. That would definitely make for a more enjoyable experience. In any case, I can’t wait to see the final release, whenever that may be. If you want to see a campaign walkthrough, I’ve linked a video below.