Where i-40 was cold and windy, especially in the temporary structure we were seated in, i-42 was sunny and hot almost the whole way through.. 😀

I drove half the way down, with a death-grip on the steering wheel (I’ve not done very much motorway driving), past a ridiculous number of lorries and one place where an accident on the other side of the road caused our side to slow to around 10mph.  Tim took the last part of the driving.. we were hoping to catch up with another friend at this point, as text messages had shown we were only 5 minutes behind, but with a stop-off at Sainsbury’s we were never going to make it. 😀

Check-in was again nice and quick thanks to arriving early, and instead of waiting around to take our PCs in at 6, we headed to the pub for food and drinks first.

All in all this was far better than the cold and wet start to i40 last year.. we hadn’t been able to go into the site as the internet hadn’t been set up for our temporary structure!  Our group were seated in B1 this time, away from the loud and annoying people who think roaring for every reload is ‘atmosphere’.  Although it was still hot, there was a balcony to escape to, and it was a lot quieter and nothing was being thrown around.. definitely going to be pushing for this spot next event.

One of the first games I played here was the awesome Portal 2, which I had started earlier but lacked the time to finish.  Plenty of other people were playing, with some on co-op, so I had to get a move on to avoid being spoiled..

I loved GlaDOS’ malicious comments in the earlier part of the game, though I wondered how I was going to end up making a break for it as she seemed happy to test me endlessly.  Wheatley was quite funny up until his change, which I think I should have spotted.. but I was rather gleeful when he turned GLaDOS into a potato even if he did still have me trapped.

The different coloured gels were a lot of fun.  On my first encounter with the white goop though, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do and ended up covering as many surfaces as I could in frustration, before spotting the little ledge I was meant to go to.  I loved evil Wheatley, especially when he tried to kill me in stupidly obvious ways.. 🙂

The second day of LAN involved a barbeque with the rest of our group.. we had the weather for it this time at least.  I’m not sure if we’re technically allowed to have BBQs on-site, but no security turned up, so no matter 😉

We also took a look through the exhibition hall, where we tried out a few games on the Nintendo 3DS, including Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Kid Icarus: Uprising, and a Zelda game which made me feel quite ill trying to focus on the screen while moving it around to aim the catapult.  While I love the idea, I’m going to be staying away from the 3DS.. if I feel bad after a few minutes use, it’s just not for me.

Aside from this, the only other real point of interest for me was the Demon stand, where they had an amazing car simulator running DIRT 2.  The fastest lap was to be rewarded with a year’s free internet, and of course I came nowhere near the quickest time though I loved the experience.  The seat, pedals and wheel come to some crazy price.. I think £24,000 was mentioned..

Elsewhere in the hall it was surprisingly quiet.. no freebies, and very little attempts by staff to draw people in to the various stands either.  There were people playing on what might have been some kind of tournament, but with no real interaction, we wandered through and back out again.

There are usually a number of flyers on the desks, and this time there was a 50% discount for the EA Store.  After trying out Bulletstorm on a friend’s PC, I bought both that and Crysis 2.. so much for not buying any more games.. 🙂

I made a start on Crysis 2.. but there were too many distractions to concentrate on it during the day and I was playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent when it got late.  There were a few changes to the sections I’d seen in the demo, with a bit more puzzle in the form of the chemicals I needed to find and mix.  The part where I had to avoid an invisible enemy in the water made me just as jumpy as when I’d originally seen it, which was probably amusing for those near me in our row.

Other games which saw some action were Beat Hazard on a friend’s computer while he played GRID on mine, some Killing Floor, an attempt at League of Legends (seriously out of practise) and a round or two of Unreal Tournament 3.  I had also brought along my Xbox 360, so there was a quick look at Stacking, and a bit of the co-op Zombie Mode in Call of Duty: Black Ops, as well as an all-too-brief look at Homefront for a friend who hadn’t seen it yet.  Maybe next time!

Tim made some use of his 30 day trial of WoW, though it was hard to tell if he was enjoying it or putting up with it for the sake of saying he’d had a go.  I also managed to get a little bit of time in WoW, and started off collecting bits for the Noblegarden Easter Event.. there were plenty of bunnies hopping around, including a pet.. 😉

I also pestered a friend to show me where to get the rather interesting Venomhide mount.. a pet which turns into a mount!

Unlike my Warrior friend, I had no trouble in being poisoned the required number of times.. he had to take off all his gear and use the most useless weapon he could find, whereas I just hit the Ravasaur with the basket I was collecting eggs in 😉

Eventually I had been poisoned enough and I was given my own Hatchling to take care of..

Our last night of LAN included some non-gaming hijinks as one friend started falling asleep in his chair.. this meant he got plastic cups balanced on his head :>
There was no chance of an all-nighter this time either.. all too tired, maybe from the heat, and we headed back to the tents at around 4.30am.

The last day didn’t include the usual CFMN vs inv TF2 match; instead we had a big game of L4d2 versus.. for which I had to switch to Tim’s PC as my copy of L4d2 had managed to corrupt itself.  Awesome game.. will have to make sure that we get more of this played from home too 🙂

Sacrifice and Mutation

I had been looking forward to the ‘Sacrifice’ since ‘The Passing’ was released for L4d2, especially as it would feature my favourite survivors, the originals.  I was also fairly pleased it was being released for both L4d and L4d2, and getting it on PC meant it was free.  The launch came with a lot of problems, though..

While my download came quickly for the original game, it took two days for my Left 4 Dead 2 download to come down.. crawling along at amazing speeds of 4kb/s.  When it finally finished downloading, it then refused to work.

However, I was in a better position than others.  Heavy traffic like this always seems to lead to authentication problems and issues with other games on Steam, getting “game unavailable” messages.   While I could at least play l4d, Tim’s machine didn’t even start downloading any updates for two days, and he couldn’t play any of his other Steam games because of… “Game Unavailable”.  Not good.

My first play through of the DLC was therefore with just one friend instead of a full human team 😉

Having Bill sacrifice himself and save the team as per the story wasn’t as easy as expected, though we had two bots with us.  After our sacrifice kept being beaten by the rush of zombies, we found the best method involved jumping back down the ladder early.

In this version, the achievement only comes for the Sacrifice instead of the whole team, but it’s easy enough to play through again.

I was slightly disappointed at the way the sacrifice ends.. once you hit the generator it’s all over.
I would rather have liked a Last Stand style effect, just to see how long I could hold out, or even a cutscene with a tank appearing and throwing Bill to his proper resting place in the smaller room.

Due to playing rather a lot of WoW and Minecraft, I’ve sadly let the mutations slip by in recent weeks.  The TAAANNNKK! mutation came this week.. and if you picked the right map and avoided the bugs, it was a lot of fun.

Bugs?  Oh yes..

On the No Mercy map, we found ourselves trapped as tanks on the wrong side of a fence, with no way of getting to the survivors.  We ended up trying to kill each other in hopes of spawning elsewhere, which worked after a few deaths, but by this time the survivors were too far along.  Another game was weirdly imbalanced; on one level my team was held back from spawning for a good while longer than the other team.. and then as survivors we faced three witches where the other team got none.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game that skewed before!

Despite the bugs I would love this to be added as a permanent mode; being the tank feels brilliantly powerful, and it’s a great feeling if you manage to get away as the survivor too.  Just.. maybe fix the bugs, huh Valve?


The mutation of this week has been Headshot.

In this mode, zombies can only be killed by headshot.  We found this mode a bit tougher than the last, but more enjoyable.

I did struggle to find a good screenshot to add here, though.. flailing at the zombies during a horde event, or being wildly inaccurate in shooting leads to rather a lot of carnage, and the headshot looks even more gory.  Enough gore that I thought it might look a bit too gratuitous..

So instead, here’s an angry young man brandishing an axe 🙂

Voting has been on all week to see what next week’s encore mutation will be.
I’m hoping for Chainsaw Massacre again, as it was a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t be unhappy for a return of this as we’ve actually played it more than the required try-it-out once.

There’s only room for one..

In a normal game you would be looking out for your team mates, helping them as they would be helping you.  With ‘Room for One’, those other survivors become a threat the closer you are to the end of the level..

I played this with a friend on The Parish’s Bridge level, as we already have a rather set route and plan for rushing to the end.  I won, but it felt rather a hollow victory..

I was prepared to save him up until the last stretch, but I can easily imagine that if playing with randoms you could find yourself abandoned to the first thing that grabs you, regardless of distance through the map.  I’m quite sure this means plenty of random groups not making it very far at all.

There might only be room for one in this newest mutation, but I don’t want to be alone.  Aww, I know..  This game mode feels like a lose-lose proposition to me. If I’m playing with friends I want them to survive, and don’t particularly want to leave them behind.

Next week, I believe we have ‘Headshot’.  I think this will be a bit more of a challenge, as my weapon of choice is the auto-shotty, however:  bring it on!


The seventh week of Mutations brought us loads of noisy chainsaws!

This was a much more hectic game, with a lot of friendly fire and thus best played on normal difficulty to avoid people getting annoyed at this 😉

Our group played a few rounds of this mode, though after a while the noise began to wear and it had to be turned right down.
The fact the chainsaws don’t run out of gas made this a much easier game to play, and I couldn’t resist the temptation of running through Dead Centre’s Hotel, sawing everything in reach.  My run was ended by a hunter, who I just hadn’t heard over the noise.

I’d vote this my third favourite of the mutations, following Realism Versus and Bleed Out.  Maybe not a game to play for long periods of time, but it was great fun 🙂

Last Man on Earth

After a second week of Last Gnome on Earth, we have Last Man on Earth.  One survivor, only special infected.

Valve made some tweaks to prevent the incapacitating special infected from being game-ending.   This meant that when I was pulled by a smoker, my health went down as he struck me, but at the point I should have been incapacitated, he just let me go and stood around rather aimlessly.  Personally, I would have preferred they behaved as normal, even if that had meant a shorter game.  I imagine it was done so that people had more of a chance of making a good run through a level, but I think it could have been done differently – maybe with less range on attacks, less health, or slowing them down a little.

All in all, I thought this game mode was more strange than fun to play, and being the only survivor felt a little lonely.. especially running along the road as Coach with him calling out for other survivors.  I really have come to prefer this game with friends.

The Passing

Valve’s new DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 was released tonight – free on the PC, but rather later than the 360 version.  This meant avoiding the forums for the majority of the evening, as others would have played the game and knew which of the original survivors died.  As is normal with any popular release, the Steam servers seemed to be struggling to cope with demand, but eventually the download was complete and we were able to play.

So..  The Passing takes place between Dead Centre and Dark Carnival, in an odd little town where you come across the original survivors.. or three of them at least.  One of the original survivors, SHOW SPOILER, sacrificed his life to save the others.  We’ll find out how this happened in more DLC said to be coming for the original game..

The campaign starts off on a riverbank, sends you underground through some sewers, and then back above ground for the finale, where you have to scavenge for gas while the remaining original survivors watch your back from nearby buildings.  SHOW SPOILER

There are a few additions – suitcases and footlockers containing weapons, the golf club – I have yet to get the achievement related to this – and the powerful M60 machine gun.  This weapon is already causing a little friction..  This is similar to when we first discovered how easy it is to take out witches in L4d2 (see how in videos here and here), and became rather competitive, running on and trying to get to the witch first. 😉

Speaking of witches.. I’d cry if I had to walk around in those ugly, grey granny-panties too, you know!
She’s been given a new Bride model, and we first encountered her here, at the site of what appeared to be a wedding.  Wonder what happened to the groom?

Due to the lateness of the download, we didn’t get to the first mutation yet – Realism Versus.  That said, we have a week to play it before the next comes out, so plenty of time yet 🙂

Check out Gamecrit’s walkthrough of the new campaign on YouTube: Part 1, Part 2, Part 2.5, and Part 3.





Gnome Chompski look familiar?

Gnome Chompski in Left 4 Dead 2, and Little Rocket Man in Half Life 2: Episode 2.

Gnome Chompski

Gnome Chompski

Little Rocket Man

Little Rocket Man

Both are linked to achievements, requiring you to carry them through a portion of the map 🙂

Zombies, Zombies, Everywhere!

Over this weekend I’ve killed my fair share of zombies, and completed quite a good reckoning of achievements too.


Some were the normal achievements for completing a campaign, but others were a bit more involved.

Clownd was the first I grabbed, and without really trying – I just thought the noise was funny when I melee’d the clowns 🙂
Gong show – load up on adrenaline and whack the gong (then prepare for the horde) and Stache Whacker – easiest done with a katana, were another pair from Dark Carnival.

My favourite though, had to be Guardin’ Gnome.

I don’t know how many times I went back for that damned gnome.. especially during the rollercoaster section!   The first time I did it, I made the mistake of putting him down in the helicopter, so I could help out my team mates with a bit of sniping.  They ended up incapped though, and the helicopter took off – but because I wasn’t holding the gnome it didn’t acknowledge that I’d saved him!

So yeah.. keep the gnome in your hands on the plane, and let your team mates look after themselves for that one.

After playing the demo, I had thought this game wouldn’t be as creepy or intense as the original, but actually, it is just as good a game.  The new infected add a little more risk to the old strategy of sticking closely together, and as for witches – well.. they’re not quite so easy to sneak past anymore!


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