Not sure if any of you picked up Left 4 Dead 2 during the holidays when Valve offered it for free in celebration of Christmas, but after playing it for a few days, I must say it’s very good. Sure, it’s not the newest of games (shoutout to 2009!), but free stuff is good in my books.
To be honest, I never really liked first person shooter games, but I found that L4D2 had a lot of variety whether it was in the mobs or the weapons. I’ve never played the first game in the franchise, but in this continuation, you are given a chance to play one of the four characters on your team that are immune to the disease that turns people into zombies. Depending on which storyline you follow, you will have to progress through several chapters (with a checkpoint after each of them so you don’t have to start all over) until you reach the hardest part of the campaign (which may include working together with teammates to fill a car with gas, fighting off hordes of zombies while waiting for a helicopter, or running across a bridge that is frankly impossibly long).
*Skip this part if you don’t want to read a condensed version of the complete L4D2 storyline*
I’m all about the story and how immersed I am in the game through the writing. Each campaign starts with a short cutscene showing how your team got into your current situation. You are supposed to play the campaigns in a certain order so that the stories flow into one another. The main characters in L4D2 starts you off in the campaign Dead Center, where the four survivors are abandoned on the roof of a hotel. Through the character’s conversations, you find out that your goal is to reach the shopping mall. The fight to the shopping mall is riddled with the undead, but when you make it there, your group finds a race car on display. You must now transverse the mall to find gas to fill up the car. If you succeed, the storyline continues in the next campaign: The Passing. Your team is faced with a raised bridge which you cannot get across. The main characters of L4D2 meets the survivors from the first franchise who tells them they must get the generator working. Collectively, the bridge is lowered and you can continue to drive away. Then in Dark Carnival, your team is forced to abandon your car and travel by foot as the bridge is blocked with abandoned cars. The bridge leads you to a rundown amusement park (this is one of my favourite campaigns) and you all decide to crank up the music on a rock stage so that a patrolloing rescue helicopter can be signalled. It’s pretty cool because the music gets real loud and fireworks on stage explode while you fight zombies. Talk about feeling epic.
All good things must come to an end and in the next campaign Swamp Fever, your team realizes that the pilot who just rescued you is infected and he starts attacking you guys. The helicopter crashes into a swamp in the fight the ensues. The survivors finds signs that there may be rescue deeper in the swamp and indeed, they find that a kind man with a boat named Virgil is willing to take them to a rumoured safe zone in Louisiana. Then comes the campaign I hate the most: Hard Rain. Why do I hate it? It’s raining really hard. I can’t see half the time so it’s really frustrating. But on with the story. Virgil’s boat runs out of fuel so the survivors have to go out and search for more juice. Seems simple enough until signs of a imminent hurricane appear. In the end of the campaign, the survivors retrieve the fuel and signals Virgil with a lit up billboard. Virgil then drops off at the rumoured safe zone and leaves the group to search for more survivors (bless that guy). Sadly, your team finds New Orleans to be completely infested with zombies. However, if you manage to transverse a long bridge, a helicopter is waiting to take your team to a safe zone where the rest of the survivors reside surrounded by water (apparently the infected can’t swim).
Did I like the writing? Overall, it was alright. The characters interacted well with one another (such as chastising every now and then when a team member accidentally opens friendly fire), and when near death, there is a very real sense of dread in what your characters says. They voice their disbelief, or their acceptance of dying. This causes the player to feel relieved when a teammate heals you or when you find a health pack and the negativity dissipates. The story itself was okay. It may be a bit repetitive in how you finally reach your goal at the end of a campaign only to realize the zombies are always waiting elsewhere but I don’t see any other way a zombie shooter could have written their story.
My favourite part of the writing takes the form of graffiti on the walls and structures in the game. Some are witty, some are funny, while others are sad and unsettling. (Screenshots aren’t mine, but just placed here for reference! I believe the third one is from the first L4D)
What other zombie games are there? The storyline similar? Meanwhile, I’ll continue to top the charts in the most friendly fire done in the campaigns in easy mode (sorry whoever I end up playing with 😦 )