by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
Brains Come Out, Swamp Water Doesn't
By far the most entertaining of all the campaigns is Hard Rain. This is not only due to impressive use of the Source engine but also due to it being specifically designed for unique backtracking. During this campaign, the player will have to combat not only zombies but also a heavy storm that is perhaps one of the coolest uses of the Source engine to date. After the first two chapters of Hard Rain have been complete, the survivors are on their way back to their drop-off point where the storm takes a turn for the worse. At random times the storm has a series of microburst’s in which the wind and rain suddenly pick-up, dropping visibility to just a few feet in front of you. It is during these moments that the storm is so loud that you can’t hear much else unless you are in a shelter. And, to help set the mood for the moment, the AI director often spawns a horde when the microburst occurs. These are some of the tensest moments in the entire game and will have most players scrambling for cover as the horde comes from all directions.
That Ain't Right for a Man to be Ridden Like That
The survivors have their work cut out for them with tasks far beyond what Left 4 Dead’s cast had to deal with. As the Infected’s numbers grow, new strains of mutation begin to pop up, creating some imposing new creatures. Three new special Infected have joined the ranks alongside of a string of “uncommon” common Infected. Each new special Infected is designed specifically to address issues players had in both co-op and versus modes of the previous games.
The Charger is Valve’s answer to the common survivor tactic of bunching up together. Designed to look like something out of The Hills Have Eyes, the Charger has a heavily mutated and strengthened right arm and has the health of a mini-Tank. The Charger’s attack is, well, a charge, as it sprints forward in a straight line. It then grabs a survivor and knocks others along his path into the air before coming to a stop where it relentlessly pounds the hapless victim into the ground. The Spitter is as lovely a creation as you have ever seen and comes in the form of a hillbilly “trophy wife” who you’d rather not look at. She has the ability to spray acid onto the ground and create an area-of-effect that quickly diminishes the survivor’s health. The Spitter prevents corner-camping.
The Jockey is the weirdest of the new specials. Not unlike a hunched-over Gollum, the Jockey laughs like a sick maniac as it approaches. Once close it jumps on your back, much like the proverbial monkey. Once stuck, he steers you against your will in whatever direction the AI director or the opposing team player wills. Usually this means that you are going for a ride into either a pool of Spitter acid or perhaps off a cliff or rooftop.
The “uncommon” common Infected are regular Infected infused with special attributes that are unique to the scenario you are playing in. For example, in Dead Center you will find Infected CEDA (this game’s combination of the CDC and FIMA) that wear large hazmat suits and thus can’t be lit on fire. Riot zombies wear bulletproof armor and thus must be killed from behind. There are a few others but the clear highlight is the Infected Clown. Yes, that’s right, it had to be a *beeping* clown complete with squeaky shoes and the classic red nose.
Unique and fun campaigns with great characters
Dumb survivor AI