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Left 4 Dead 2 For U – Dead Centre Ian's avatar
Spoiler Warning: Some details about the Dead Centre campaign
Picture of Hotel

Sam, a real friend and a robot friend just played through the first campaign of Left 4 Dead 2, Dead Centre. It always sort of bothered me in the first game how the campaigns didn’t really seem to be connected together to form any sort of journey, so was very excited to here that was totally how it worked in the sequel. So naturally while most would probably immediately pick Dark Carnival, I insisted we play through them in the order the menu presents them.

Dead Centre starts where the intro leaves off, with the new survivors narrowly missing their helicopter shaped ticket away from the zombie apocalypse (to a different less southern zombie apocalypse) by mere seconds. They are left stranded at the top of a burning hotel full of zombies. This is quite reminiscent of how the No Mercy campaign leads in from the intro of the first game. Dead Centre took us about one and a half hours to beat on normal difficulty mode, and I’m pleased to report we didn’t wipe once. We did come very close at one point though, with two people left limping their way into a safe room with scarily little health. I had heard tell from the internet that the difficulty was more brutal than the first game on normal mode, but didn’t really see it myself. We did get swamped by simultaneous special infected occasionally, but never suffered too much because of it.

The four levels of Dead Centre see you go from the burning hotel, through some bright day lit city streets, helping out a gun shop owner who had locked himself in his shop with no coke, and eventually to a shopping mall. Yes! A mall! Finally! Why wasn’t there a decent mall in the first game? Malls and zombies are practically the same thing at this point, in fact whenever I am in a mall in real life I usually start shooting people in case they are zombies. It’s a pretty decent mall too with lots of escalators and multileveled shop lined areas. Not many shop interiors though, sadly.

We ran into some new gameplay mechanics, like a bit where you had to go get some coke from a store back to the aforementioned gun shop owner while an unending stream of zombies flood in on you. There was another similar bit where you had to fight your way up 3 mall floors to a button in order to turn off an alarm. These bits, kinda don’t like them. The game isn’t really conducive to run and gunning as there are a lot of things requiring stopping to sort out. In amongst the horde are the newly reinforced set of special infected who do a good job of disabling you in their various ways, as they are want to do. This means you have to stop and help people, then people get mobbed and have to be revived, etc. It gets rather confusing, and everyone just ends up sort of yelling for help ineffectually over voice chat.

Picture of final stand in malll

The ‘final stand’ part of Dead Centre involves collecting enough gas cans from a large mall area to refill a display car in order to drive the hell away from the mall. You have to stick together as holding a can means you can’t shoot. We found the best strategy was to run round the area and chuck the cans down to the middle where the car is, then go down and fill up the car later. Thinking about it, this is probably exactly what the designers were expecting you to do. Anyway, the zombie attacks never got too intense and you have infinite ammo due to a centrally placed ammo pile, so wasn’t nearly as hard as any of the final stands in the first game.

After so long playing other FPS games such as Borderlands and Modern Warfare 2, the controls are sort bugging me. The lack of a fine aim button is baffling at this point. I mean why not? There’s enough room on the controller for it. Those of you who say “It’s not that sort of game” are most welcome not to use it. Being swamped by zombies is also still as frustrating as it ever was, leaving you frantically meleeing in the hopes of clearing some room to move to a better spot. There was also some confusion about precisely how you dual wield guns which seems to work randomly, accidentally, and never when you are trying to do it.

I intend to post reports of the other campaigns as we play though them. They are quite hard to organise though so might not happen particularly speedily.