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More L4D in Response [PC]
Nov 19th, 2008 by Dan

The game they were mentioning in the podcast was Gears of War 2. I agree with that being kind of cool, but at the same time, we were all trying to really push ourselves and play the most challenging version of the game. Even if Simon had more experience, I still don’t think we would have been able to make it through the whole campaign on expert, it’s just too hard.

The game is $60 on xbox, $50 on PC, but it’s not as short as it seems. There may only be four campaigns, but you’d be missing the point if you thought that was all it had to offer.

Valve has gone on and on (and so did 1UP Yours) about the AI Director being an integral part of the game experience. Sure, there are only 4 campaigns (five maps each, so twenty levels), but no two playthroughs are identical. Item locations, zombie placement, even boss zombie placement is all set by the AI Director who analyzes current player healths, ammo levels, difficulty level, and how well you’ve been doing so far, ensuring a dynamic playback experience.

Also worth mentioning is that even just playing the first campaign, No Mercy, I’ve found myself thoroughly enthralled by a game and feel its $50 price tag is well warranted. If this was all that was there, I would play it ad infinitum (not literally, other games will pop up soon), but it’s not. Three more campaigns whose length will be extended by my refusal to play below Advanced and strong desire to conquer each on Expert (achievement points are great motivators) and a mode I haven’t even talked about will extend this.

That mode: Versus Mode. In versus mode you have two teams of four. Four are the survivors, four are the mutated infected. The object is for the survivors to do just what they do in the single-player cmapaign, only this time they’re being dogged by actual players instead of the AI. The players will be respawned on a timer and are able to antagonize the surivors using coordinated attacks. I’ve yet to play it, but it looks promising.

I think it’s more than worth $50, but I’ve heard some complaints from reviewers about it. My guess is that they were playing on Normal or Easy to try and get through as fast as possible for the review, giving a total playtime somewhere near three or four hours. I’d love to see all those editors and reviewers try that on Expert. Without some serious experience, that’s not possible.

Day 2 Impressions of the Zombie Apocalypse [PC]
Nov 19th, 2008 by Dan

It’s the second day of the zombie apocalypse.

No zombie can stand against Chicago Ted. How long does it take to turn after infection? Two weeks? Two days? 2.5 hours!?

That’s some of the flavor text littered around the safe rooms in L4D to add to the atmosphere and, despite never seeing another human being in the game, they effectively make us all feel like the world is actually lived in. Like there just might be other immune survivors roaming around, seeking help too.

Day 2 impressions is kind of a misnomer, since I played at midnight of launch day and at night the same day, but who’s really counting? Hasn’t society been wiped out by the Horde already?

I was actually able to play with my friends this time, but since some of us were newer to the experience than others and we actually wanted to pass missions, we dumbed down the difficulty to the penultimate difficulty level: Advanced. While still hard and rough to get through to Mercy Hospital (in the appropriately named campaign: No Mercy), I must admit that not being incapacitated and killed after two hits from a tank kind of irks me as a person who played many hours on Expert. I guess I’ll have to continue to build up my skills.

The final two missions that I’d yet to witness were both quite cool. The hospital proper and the rooftops both offered numerous challenges, especially the rooftops.

After fighting through wave after wave of zombies, it becomes time to take on a tank. This process is repeated three times. Fighting one tank is bad enough, thank you very much. Fighting it on the roof of a 30+ storied hospital is worse. Our first attempt featured me getting knocked by the tank, no big deal on our difficulty level, until I saw that there was no longer any floor below me as he had knocked me clear off the side of the building. perspective flashed to an exterior shot of the hospital as my body was flung clear. There is no resurrection on the roof. RIP Zoey.

Many unsuccessful attempts later, we found ourselves at the final tank. My friend SimonFrancis was dead, smashed by a tank. We silently thanked him for his strategy that helped us get this far, but grit our teeth with the knowledge that grief doesn’t kill tanks, bullets do. As EricBill (DarekLouis’s friend) and I ran around the rooftops pausing to shoot at the behemoth, I heard a silent cry from DarekLouis.

“Smoker.”

Little did we know that he meant to say “HEY GUYS I’VE BEEN NABBED BY A SMOKER!”

Only once Eric and I noticed the Tank had been felled did we spot DarekLouis having the last of his life choked out of his poor body. DarekLouis, I didn’t know you well, but it was great to have you aboard. You always kept me from trying to snipe witches in the head. A wise idea.

The copter began its descent. EricBill was closer to the pad and began to make a run for it. The zombies swarmed him. I ran up the ramp behind, shooting zombies as I ran, but full of the knowledge that stopping means death. The Horde wants brains. We want escape. Conflict is inevitable.

As I rush past EricBill I beat away some zombies, shoot a few, jump and securely crouch in the helicopter. I shoot some of the zombies surrounding EricBill, but the damage is too much, he goes down. Before I can hop out and pick up the incapacitated EricBill, the copter decides to high tail it. I am the only survivor. The only one left to tell the tale. EricBill, you were good at finding new explosives, but freedom and safety come at the cost of running away sometimes. Sure, flight before fight isn’t glorious, but dead men tell no tales. Your thirst for battle was your end.

The copter flew away, the screen faded to black.

In loving memory of:

unarmed_gunman (SimonFrancis)
itsdareklol (DarekLouis)
strike (EricBill)

flashed on the screen. It’s brilliant, just like a movie whose casualties were my fellow players. The cast list followed.

ElCapitan BSC as Zoey
itsdareklol as Louis (deceased)
unarmed_gunman as Francis (deceased)
strike as Bill (deceased)

Some stats came by, many of which I led, but many of which I was second or third.

Finally, the closing message I leave to you, scrolled up on screen as we all laughed:

4,907 zombies were hurt in the making of this film.

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