Free This Weekend

Plants vs Zombies is currently available for free as part of the Stop Zombie Mouth campaign, with redeemable coupons being given out in association with the American Dental Association: instead of giving sweets to trick or treating children, give them coupons for a game!

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Left 4 Dead 2 – Deathcraft II

Deathcraft II is a rather impressive mod and campaign for Left 4 Dead 2.. turning it into something that looks just like Minecraft!

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Left 4 Dead 2 – Cold Stream

Cold Stream is a new campaign created by modder Matthew Lourdelet, who previously created the 2 Evil Eyes campaign.

Having received some well-deserved support from Valve, this became available for players to beta test last night.

I got round to playing it this morning.  We first spawned in the stream itself..  I thought this was a very pretty location with the rushing water and trees..

We decided this first part of the map could maybe have done with a few more pointers on direction, as once you’ve headed into the trees it’s fairly easy to lose your sense of direction..

We also wandered in and out of a small building before realising we were supposed to jump out of the first floor window to carry on.. maybe if this window had been broken it would have given us a clue, but as it was it looked like a recipe for fall damage.  Minor points, though.. and they didn’t hold us up for long 🙂

In the second map, we emerged in a tunnel full of rushing water.  A minor complaint here was the lack of sound for the water.. noticeable in the tunnel where you’d expect to really hear it.  I think it was around here that we started talking about how cool it would be if the water were to push you along, as it certainly looked fast-flowing..

I think the foggy lighting here would be great cover when playing as the Infected.. 🙂

Towards the end of this level we were nearly wiped out by a sneak-attacking tank, who incapacitated most of the team with a massive rock which came crashing down onto the group.  We hadn’t even picked up the bots by the time he got to us, and after I threw the bile on him, he sent me flying past the still-incapped Ellis..

The bile brought enough zombies to kill him off, and we carried on through a building and back into a tunnel full of water.

This time, there was a push behind the water!  Straight ahead there appeared to be a drop to the death, but we headed right and down a set of stairs with more water flowing down them.  I was rather pleased with this bit 😉

On the third level we were surprised with an explosion, sending cars and trucks flying and leaving a large hole on the bridge we were crossing!

I liked how this changed the map right before us, but wonder how this feels in Versus mode.. whether the infected get trapped here, or whether it allows insta-kills over the edge.  I need more friends who still want to play this game 😉

We had noticed a witch crying, and before the explosion I had been looking for her, hoping to beat The Undoer to the kill 😉

She turned out to be standing on a surface below the bridge, with no way up.  I noticed that this bug has been mentioned on the Steam forum dedicated to Cold Stream, along with the bug we got at the beginning of the Finale level..

That’s me, spawned on the outside of the safe room.. oops.

Using the radio in the safe room starts a cutscene with what we assumed was a rescue helicopter that crashes down into the trees.. all which needs some kind of voice acting as it just feels a bit strange.  After this, we were free to run out to look for the helicopter, or an alternative rescue..

A little further along, I thought the game had crashed when everything seemed to stick.. then we realised it was just a slow-motion effect.  At the time this seemed rather impressive, but I’m now thinking it should maybe have been left out.  In games like Homefront and Call of Duty, slow-motion is used to allow you to respond quickly to a threat.. here, it just seems to be used to add to the explosion, and after the second play-through I think this would be more of an annoying delay than something to be impressed by.

For the rescue, again, hindsight comes in..

Presumably attracted by the fire and smoke from the wreckage of the first helicopter, a second helicopter was waiting to rescue us.  I think this should have been the other way round, with us having to wait and hold out against a horde.. this would have been more challenging.  Instead, we almost discovered the ladder by chance, and with the common infected piling on Ellis and Rochelle, we were free to run up the ladder to safety.

Having run through this campaign though, I realised quite how much I miss playing the game.. the adrenaline rush, the need for really close co-operation.. the awesome feeling when you and your friends survive despite the AI director being harsh.. 🙁

Lesser Mutations

The first two mutations, Realism Versus and Bleed Out, both appealed to me as challenging new game modes.  I enjoyed playing both, and would quite happily return to either.. so I was quite happy to see that Realism Versus is to be added as a permanent game mode.

On to the newer mutations..

The third mutation was Follow the Liter, a mutated Scavenge mode in which only one group of cans appear at a time.  Testing out this mode on the last section of The Passing, I found it made the level a little too easy.

Normally, my group communicate using mumble, with the exception of the odd one or two who don’t have voice.  We’re fairly good at working together, and on this level at least, are quite efficient at clearing out groups of cans while still being able to defend ourselves.

I feel that this mode just removes the need to communicate.  Everybody knows where to go, reducing the need for communicating to simply dealing with the infected.  I’m afraid to say this mode didn’t really get much of a replay during the week.

This week’s mutation involves my favourite little guy, Gnome Chompski!

In Last Gnome on Earth, the mission is much the same as when completing the Guardin’ Gnome achievement – carry the gnome through the level to the finish and thereby rescue him.  The difference is that this time, Gnome Chompski is a beacon for the common infected, and they will swarm to anybody carrying the gnome.
We found this added to the difficulty a little, which was nice, but having rescued the gnome so many times in Dark Carnival, this felt a little bit too much of the same.

Next week’s mutation will be an “encore week”, with either Bleed Out, Follow the Liter or Last Gnome on Earth coming back for another showing.  I’m voting for Bleed Out 🙂

First Mutations

With the release of The Passing, Valve also started on their series of Mutations; weekly game modes with changes in gameplay which could turn out to be very interesting, and some of which may be made permanent in the game..

The first mutation was Realism Versus, combining the multiplayer versus mode with the rather tough Realism mode.   I wasn’t convinced when I first heard of this game mode, expecting it might be a bit too hard to be really fun.  However, with some awesome friends and a voice server, it was a decent challenge, though the infected side of course had the edge.  A quick attack could easily lead to valuable time ticking away while other survivors located the downed player.. fantastic for infected, frantic for humans, but great fun all the same 🙂

Bleed Out was the second mutation, this time for the campaign mode, and released via slightly temperamental update on Friday evening.   This game mode was billed to allowed the use of temporary health only: characters start off with their health ticking away from the off.  I didn’t expect this mode to be too difficult: when playing with friends, we’re used to rationing our health and surviving on pills for some time anyway, and this is how it turned out for us here too.

We discovered a slight flaw in the final level of The Passing, though, with the original survivors throwing down health packs.  However, you don’t have to use them 😉

I’d be quite happy for either of these modes to be made permanent.. both were a different challenge from the usual game.  Looking forward to seeing the other modes over the next few weeks too..

Left 4 Dead 2 Maps

Also been trying out a few custom maps for Left 4 Dead 2.. with some maps being more successful than others.

Big Brother 2 is a fairly decent survival map with a little bonus for those of us who find the gnome amusing..  if you take the gnome to the diary room and drop him in the chair, a hatch opens above the kitchen counter and drops a nice pile of gnomes 🙂

Another that we found particularly nice looking was The Island.
After playing through a few times, we decided to have a little fun with the numerous gas cans laying around.

Tempting, no?  Well, we thought so.. especially once we were standing in amongst it all!

Fire, lovely fire 🙂