Continuing on from yesterday, here are my picks for the Best Rolling Crescendo, Finale, and Campaign in L4D2. Enjoy!
Best: Dark Carnival’s “Coaster”
The Roller Coaster was the most fun I’ve had in Dark Carnival, besides the Finale. After coming out of the boring gallery shooter that was the Tunnel of Love, Ellis screamed out “Hey, It’s the Screaming Oak!”. After healing, I looked up to wonder what he was talking about. And lord behold, I shat my pants in excitement. A ROLLER COASTER! As we jumped over the fence to a maintenance boarding section, Nick said “Alright folks, looks like we’re gonna have to run the track to get over the fences.” What Ellis said next perfectly captured my state of mind: “You mean we get to run the Screamin’ Oak and shoot zombies? This is the best day ever.” What followed next was a combination of decapitation, screams, and adrenaline (both in-game and literally). I don’t think I have to elaborate on that much more.
Runner Up: Dead Center’s “Gun Shop”
The Gun Shop got second place simply because it’s the most creative of the Rolling Crescendo’s, but doesn’t pack the punch or awesomeness of the Coaster. Normally the rolling crescendos in L4D2 involve your running from A to B, but this one was a bit different. First, you are tasked with delivering the cola to the gun shop owner, who will blow up the tanker blocking your path to the mall. The cola itself is not a held on back item, you actually have to hold it. This means one of your team mates is vulnerable from the moment they grab the soda in the store to the moment they are franticly running up the street to delver the cola to the gun shop owner. With the addition of melee fatigue in campaign mode, the event is made that more exciting and frantic.
Disappointment: Dead Centers “Emergency Glass”
Another disappointment from Dead Center is The Mall’s emergency glass. It doesn’t feel different from The Tower, which at least has the visual thing working for it. The Mall’s bland design doesn’t help the fact that you can’t even figure out how to turn off the alarm until you travel up wards a floor. For these reasons, this uninspired and un-fun crescendo is ranked at Dissapointment.
Best: The Parish’s “Bridge”
This was a tough one. Considering all the Finales in this game have their own twist on them, it was tough to choose the best one. But after careful chart making, I finally chose the Parish’s Lift Bridge. The level starts off right in your face: You don’t have to travel a certain distance before calling for rescue, rescue is practically right outside the door. At least the radio is. What makes this finale so much fun is the fact that it plays like nothing else in the L4D universe. Running your ass across a partially bombed bridge with zombies and cars lying every where is frantic and chaotic fun. Knowing the rescue is not coming, but rather your going to it, is a brilliant twist on the traditional finale formula, but it plays extremely well. In fact, after playing this, I was a bit upset no other finales featured the same style. But perhaps it being the only finale of its kind in the game benefits it, because it’s absolutely amazing.
Runner Up: Dark Carnival’s “Concert”
Of course the Concert was going to be runner up. This incredibly clever twist on the traditional finale is set to be a fan favorite. Sure, the idea of setting off pyrotechnics, lights, and music to alert a passing helicopter is absurd, that’s what makes it so damn fun. From the awesome custom tank music, to the fire-wall and fireworks, this finale plays brilliantly, and the rush to the rescue vehicle has never been more frantic. Plus, the fact that the chopper can land on either side mixes up the action, a great touch by Valve.
Disappointment: Swamp Fever’s “Plantation”
While the Plantation finale is not bad, it just didn’t differ enough from regular game play to make it feel special. It’s pretty typical, hold up and wait for rescue. Our group chose to hold up on the 3rd floor to use the mini-gun, which on our second run had ammo spawn up top, which allowed us to camp even more easily. The only twist came in the second tank, there actually were two! This threw us off at first, but it still doesn’t seem as big a twist as the other finales offer.
Best: Hard Rain
Hard Rain begins behind an abandoned Burger Tank. It seems innocent enough, until you walk inside and notice 8 health kits. An on screen prompt then alerts you to “save some supplies for the return trip.” It is at this moment that you know this will be a very different experience that your traditional L4D campaigns.
From the creepy level design (empty houses and playgrounds devoid of children, but full of bodies) to the brilliance of The Sugar Mill and the flooded sections, this campaign leaves no territory unturned, literally. You’ll be traversing through the first two levels in reverse on your return trip to deliver the fuel, but this is not a cop-out on Valve’s part. The additional challenge comes from a brilliant Director controlled panic event, lightning storms. On my groups way back from the sugar mill, we were hit by the first one. There was a brilliant flash of lightning; I see leaves flying on my screen. “OH SHIT!” I hear a team mate scream. “GET BACK INSIDE” I yell to my group, but it’s only responded with barley audible “WHAT?” ‘s and “I CANT HEAR YOU” ‘s. I then realized the storm actually cuts out your microphones unless you’re very close or are indoors. That intense moment of getting a thunderstorm for the first time instantly brought me back to the fear the first game gave me the first couple times I played it. It was then that I realized that this was the most incredible experience Left 4 Dead 2 had to offer.
Runner Up: Dark Carnival
While Dark Carnival lacks in interesting play mechanics and variance, it more than makes up for with its amazing finale and overall visual punch. The first level starts off innocently enough, and even features a pretty cool Motel section. But the real fun beings in map two, The Fairgrounds. The whole level is full of eye candy. From the park sign to kiddie land, this level pulls off some of the best looking levels since Ep2’s open forest vistas. Unfortunately, the level has some clunky moments, such as the prolonged Tunnel of Love and the relatively boring Barns level. However, Valve does an amazing job of making this feel like a real fairground, and the cheesiness of the whole situation (who would choose to go the fairgrounds in a zombie apocalypse?) makes it incredibly fun to play. In fact, it fits so perfectly into the B-Movie horror style that it could have easily been a campaign in L4D 1. Over all, it’s a great campaign, even though it can feel long at times.
Disappointment: Dead Center
Dead Center was one of the biggest disappointments I’ve had in a long time. Perhaps I had to high expectations while looking forward to the epicness that would be an official Valve mall level. While the campaign starts strong, the center 2 chapters feel weak, especially map 3, The Mall. Luckily Valve saves themselves from utter disgrace in the interesting and fun playing finale, but it’s still enough to knock this campaign down to the Disappointment slot.
What do you think was the best campaign? Worst? Let us know your opinions on the article and your picks for the Best Of in the comments.
Posted by Contributor Dan.