Quick, we need to get to the roof. There’s a helicopter up there. Hurry….
We are planning on a shift with our Saturday articles coming in June, so I want to pull in a few more games of merit before we change over to a new series.
“Come back! Come back! Aw he ain’t comin back…”
Normally, I only go for single player games. I don’t need to be shot by some 15 year old who spends his days playing the same game over and over only for him to beat me with a derisive comment.
Ok there are weapons here, grab what you can. We’re going to make a run for it. There’s a mall nearby. We can hole up there for a while…
But this one multiplayer game warrants discussion. It opens with four strangers trapped on the roof of a hotel. Four regular people desperate to stay alive. The hotel is on fire. And it’s full of the walking dead.
This is one sequel that blew its predecessor out of the water. This is Left 4 Dead 2.
L4d2, as its affectionately called, is an amazingly good game. It’s an absolutely intense first person perspective game where you are trying to stay alive through a series of “episodes”. Each episode is broken into parts. For each part, you have to get to a safe house, restock ammo, heal up, maybe change guns, and then go at it again.
The game has a campaign of about 10-12 “stories” starting with the meeting of the four key players. Ellis, Nick, Coach and Rochelle are brought together on the roof of the hotel just as their rescue helicopter takes off. Now they are in a fight for their lives. The episodes are loosely tied together; for instance after the first story, you drive off in a car, the second episode has the car run out of gas and the next part begins. But the episodes don’t have to be played in order.
If this game were not good enough by its own merits, what really makes this game amazing is playing it with friends. The game can be played in single player with “bots” taking on the 3 characters that are not you but in multiplayer mode you get the same campaign stories but the dynamic changes. See, if one of the bots go down, who cares? But when playing with friends, maybe it’s psychological, but we play for keeps. Our goal is to always be alive together as we get to the finish line. Now this is interesting too. When you die mid-round, you can come back. After a short time-out, you will appear in a closet or locked in a shed asking to be let out and one of your friends can open the door. But die in the final part of the game and you stay dead. The game will end with an RIP to the dead player or players.
There are no conventional “bosses”, instead providing swarms. Huge swarms! There are various zombie types too. A jockey jumps on your back and rides you around. The only way to get it off is for another player to kill it. Same goes for a Hunter, as it leaps out of the air and lands on you. Or the Smoker, who chokes constantly and shoots out a tentacle that pulls you in. Or a charger, that grabs you and smashes you into the ground like Superman does to Batman. There’s also the frightening Witch, a crying woman who, once angered, charges with the fury of hell. And then there are the tanks, Hulk-like behemoths that are lethal.
Recently, fellow blogger Paul Roeber and I went back to the land of the dead with my two boys. We played an intense round where we had to secure a large house while someone came to rescue us on a boat. The final part of the game, as the zombie hordes come charging, is intense. Multiple Tanks come at us from all sides. Chargers charge and hunters hunt. But we four watched each others backs. When one of us got swarmed, before we could be dispatched, another of the team was there, helping the wounded to their feet and healing them while another laid down cover fire. Finally, the boat arrived. We had to make a run for it…
Paul made a leap off the second story of the building. He was the last of us to make the jump but something went wrong. There was an almighty crunch of bone and he was limping. He could not outrun the horde. My two sons and I saw what was happening, and turned, but he was dead so fast. Over the speaker, I heard my son say, “there’s nothing we can do”. We ran to the boat, and it sped away. The RIP displayed on the screen. We had killed over 1000 zombies but we lost Paul! Damn you, zombies! DAMN YOU!!!
Seldom does a game come out that really provide such an intense cooperative experience but this game succeeds admirably. The crazy thing is that this came out in 2009, released by the great Valve Interactive. Current retail price: $10. I have gotten 134 hours out of it, and there’s no reason to stop now. There are other modes too; the coop mode is a favorite, but there are others. But let’s cover one thing right now: this is a game about killing zombies. News flash: it’s bloody. There’s some language! You can use a chainsaw to slice through the undead. It’s what ya do! Get over it…
If you want a game that is exciting, cooperative, and very re-play-able, Left 4 Dead 2 is the game you need to get. And who can beat that price? Plus, who knows, maybe one day the oft-hinted-at L4D3 will come out. We can but hope.
Quick, run, run… they’re coming for us! RUN!!!
Check out the trailer here. ML