Why I was wrong on L4D2 just being “alright” in storyline…

Hey guys,

So I did a little digging after my last post because I wanted to learn more about the L4D universe. And I must say, I was wrong on it simply being alright. It’s actually pretty great. At least one of their plot lines are. The rest of my post will have spoilers, but to be fair, the game came out five years ago.

the sacrifice

The sun looks like a halo behind Bill’s head.

I noticed that there were only three of the four original survivors while I was doing The Passing campaign and not having ever played the first game in the franchise, I had to look up the missing guy… whose corpse I saw in game: Bill Overbeck.

What I liked about L4D (after some research) is that they did not solely reveal their story through the games. On a slightly different note, apparently, the cutscenes were too long and they actually shortened it so that players can get on with the game. It would be interesting to see what the original scenes looked like. However, L4D has an online comic which helps to depict the ending of the story for the franchise’s original survivors, which we got a brief glimpse at in the campaign The Sacrifice. Here’s the link for it.

We are taken back not only to relive the events of The Sacrifice, but given details of each original survivor’s past: Zoey and how she had to kill her own father; Francis and his past on being on the wrong side of the law; Louis and how he was an ordinary cubical worker; Bill and his past as a hardy veteran who had served during the Vietnam war. Through the comic, we can observe the relationships of these four characters. Zoey and Bill’s relationship stood out to me the most. To me, Zoey sees Bill as a father figure, and he takes a very defensive stance against anyone who would hurt her. To build on their relationship, during the game, if Zoey’s character dies, Bill reacts quite strongly (“Aghh…not [tearing up] Zoey…”). It was very difficult for me to read the comics and see this relationship reveal itself since through the game, I know Bill dies. Needless to say, I did cry as I got to the end of the comics. Bill also mentions, as he’s making his sacrifice, that he’s tired of how every time he thinks “she” is safe, they just go right back into a pile of problems. He is definitely talking about Zoey, and although he is sacrificing himself for the whole team, I believe a lot of that had to do with Zoey.

Here is the accompanying trailer that hints at Bill’s sacrifice (with Zoey’s reaction to when he makes his decision to do so), and he looks pretty badass. Props to the people at Valve who managed to make me feel this deeply about a character death in a game where dying isn’t exactly a rare event. Transmedia storytelling is awesome.

– Karen

Left 4 Dead 2: Free stuff is good stuff.

Hey all,

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.

l4d2 blog

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).

***End***

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)

l4d2graffiti1

l4d2graffiti2

I spot my name on one of the graffitis <3 (top right)

I spot my name on one of the graffitis

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 😦 )

-Karen