There were a handful of games I brought with me when I moved into my cabin at Camp for the Summer. I brought my computer, full of steam games and such, and my 3DS with a single cartridge game and a few downloaded one. But it was the game I downloaded a few weeks into my Summer that I would spend most of my spare time playing.
I had played both of the Left 4 Dead games prior to this Summer, and thus didn’t have to think very long about buying the complete set of both games and all the DLC for 5 dollars on steam. Also, I knew that I would be able to have a good time playing these games offline. And I did.
I am still not quite sure how the beginning of this plot goes, seeing as the don’t really explain it themselves. Suffice to say, there are zombies. Shocking, I know. You play as any one of four characters in a set group that must work together to reach an evacuation point by fighting through a horde of zombies. Each character is vivid and different, with great voice acting and character design. However, like most other games, you will quickly find favorite characters that you consistently return to. I do what I can to always play Elis in the second game’s campaigns, and mostly play Bill in the first. However, once I learned of the dialog wheel that is available to make you character cry out certain things, Luis became absolutely hilarious to play because each time a zombie would be taken out he would cry “Oh No!” as if he had just seen is best friend get shot down. It never gets old…
The gameplay is unique for most other zombie games in our generation. Four player cooperation is absolutely essential for getting from safe room to safe room without dying. This is because of the system by which your character functions, and how the enemy zombies work. As your character loses health, he or she will walk slower, making them more liable to attack. Thus, having your allies defend the weaker party member becomes necessary, along with everyone collaborating to find a way to heal them. When a human’s health reaches zero, they become incapacitated. In this state, they cannot move and have a much larger, slowly decaying health bar. Allies must go back for incapacitated humans to revive them. After being revived, your health slowly decays and you move slowly, making you an easier target. As you can see, working together to stay healthy and keep each other going is the most effective way to make your way through the game.
However, this is made quite difficult by the enemies themselves. While there are innumerable common infected who will just attack you for minimal damage and attempt to surround you, the real threat comes from the Special Infected. These enemies all have varying abilities that all work towards incapacitating the human players. The Hunter leaps onto one survivor and pins them while doing massive damage. The Smoker grabs humans with its tongue and drags them away from the party towards him. The Boomer covers the players in Bile that attracts large amounts of common infected. The Spitter covers an area in highly damaging acid. The Jockey leads onto survivors and directs them away from their allies while clawing at them. The Charger, who is my personal favorite of the bunch, sprints forward with its one giant arm and bowls over anyone in the way, catching one human and slamming them into the ground once he finishes his run. There is also the rare Tank, who has incredible health and damage, but is slow moving and usually comes alone, and the dangerous Witch, who typically lies alone on the floor, but will immediately incapacitate anyone who startles her. The game has a wide array of enemies that work together towards making your progress difficult. Dealing with hordes of Commons while also fending off Specials is what gives the game its challenge.
While at Camp, I played through every campaign with AI partners against AI enemies. This is still fun, though it lacks a lot of the teamwork components that are actually possible. When I came home, I played a number of the campaigns with 3 other friends, making the game not only more fun, but also more challenging. We upped the difficulty, but soon friendly fire would become an issue, and one person falling behind or running ahead often resulted in death. No matter how many times I would tell them I was low on health and falling behind, they would continue on and I would get caught out by a hunter or something. It’s pretty infuriating.
After some time against the bots, we decided to try our hands at the versus. All of us had played it before but one, so we did have some experience. In the Versus mode, two sets of 4 players take turns playing through the each level of a campaign, once as the survivors, once as the humans. Obviously, the drawing factor of this type is to play as the zombies, which is a lot of fun. It is difficult to catch and kill survivors on your own, so working with other Specials to down targets is the way to do it. Like setting up in a small hallway for an ambush where a Boomer blinds everyone, a Charger knocks all four over and carries off one, a Spitter begins racking up the damage and probably incapacitates one or two, and a Smoker takes away another. And just like that you could win the round. Of course, there are those times when you perfectly time a Smoker tongue and 100 to 0 someone because they are too far away for it to be practical to retrieve them.
As you can tell, L4D2 is a very teamwork oriented game. The amount of success you have is directly correlated to the way you work together. It is an extremely easy game to understand once you have a grasp on each enemy, each primary and secondary weapon, the equipment, and the goal. After one campaign of player, you should have no trouble working with your team to get to the next safe room. But this is also the sort of game that rewards extensive skill and understanding. Watching a group of 4 talented players go through a campaign is pretty impressive as there are specific methods of dealing with all common infected in a short time, then moving forward together while prepared for any special infected that may come. It was really annoying to play against, because it felt as if there were never any common zombies in their path like there were in ours, though I theorize that they were moving so quickly and killing so effectively that they didn’t have time to spawn as much and populate rooms.
Left for Dead is a solid title, and its sequel is even more so. I believe that it is exactly what the first one should have been because of its addition of melee weapons and a Red-neck, but that’s my personal belief. The multiplayer and offline game modes are straight forward and easy to enjoy while still challenging its player. The weapons are fun to use and master alongside different equipment that allow for strategic elimination of foes. I have always liked the game, and was very pleased to have it with me over the Summer.
I’m sorry for the delay in content over the last few weeks. I finished this a while ago, but have been swamped with college and finishing other games. Also, if this piece doesn’t seem up to snuff it is probably due to the fact I haven’t written anything critical in three months. As always, I will bring my thoughts here each time I finish a game.
P.S. I would rather see a Left 4 Dead 3 than a third installment for any other Valve title.