by Chris Davis
previewed on PC
Tasty Tasty Brains
Thanks to George Romero all those years ago the zombie sub-genre is something almost everyone has experienced at one point or another. Valve knew this and, after having watched user-made zombie mods for CounterStrike for years, decided to jump into the action beyond the simplistic work of the headcrab zombies in Half-Life. Thus Left 4 Dead was born and though it was released a little over eight months ago it stunned the world when Valve announced a sequel at this yearís E3.
If there was one thing Valve fans were anticipating at E3 just two months ago it was the reveal of Half-Life 2 Episode Three. The previous episode was released two years ago in 2007ís Orange Box. So, imagine the communityís surprise when, during the Microsoft press conference, a trailer was shown for Left 4 Dead 2. Now, sequels born twelve to eighteen months after the first game are not uncommon in video games but to have this product coming from Valve is an astonishing feat. Valve, as the world knows, isnít exactly well known at getting a product done by a certain due date. Hell, Left 4 Dead was announced in 2006 for a release in late 2007 or early 2008. Valve however was ambitious and unrelenting in their push for Left 4 Dead 2 during E3 announcing a fixed release date exactly a year to the day of the release of the first game.
Can Valve bring a sequel-worthy experience to gamers so soon after the release of their latest masterpiece?
No Zombieís Safe from Chicago Ted
Set a short time after the events of Left 4 Dead, the story sees the infection just reaching Georgia when players find themselves in control of a new cast of survivors; Rochelle a local newscaster, Ellis the mechanic, Nick the riverboat gambler, and Coach the high school, er, coach. The game follows their attempt to flee from Savanna, Georgia and leads to the final scenario taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana. The voice cast for the game so far involves Rochelle Aytes, Eric Ladin, Hugo Dillon, and Chad Coleman respectively.
Comprising five very distinct campaigns the game looks to be far more continuous than the original along and have a full, interconnected storyline. Though the specific order of the campaigns has yet to be revealed it is generally believed that The Parish is the final campaign as it occurs in New Orleans and takes players through several distinct sections of the city. Revealed at Comic-Con a few weeks ago was a campaign called Swamp Fever. It occurs somewhere in the middle of the game and finds the new survivors searching for a group of hillbillies that may have been able to hold out against the infection. Needless to say it is a very wet environment with lots of trees that can lead to a crowded, confusing experience. Swamp Fever is the only campaign of the game that will involve four levels instead of the standard five providing for the possibility of versus play that takes less than an hour to complete.