I remember squinting to read the text on a gaming magazine page scan on the web that described an upcoming cooperative zombie game. Cooperative gaming, or “co-op” for short, hadn’t hit the renaissance it has today yet, but from what I read from the scans, Left 4 Dead was a game that made me think, “Why hasn’t this been done before? Fighting a zombie apocalypse with your friends?! Awesome!”
Shortly before Thanksgiving, I was invited to a low-key LAN party that rekindled my gaming hobby. Or, I should say, set it ablaze. During the arctic blizzard in December, I picked up Left 4 Dead on sale at Target and was fortunate enough that Jack and his friends picked up copies too. And so, we were off to fight the zombie horde—on a mission to make it to Mercy hospital—the first campaign, “No Mercy.”
We fought zombies until we were zombies, going from 9pm until 3am before I called it a night. I really didn’t want to give up at that point. We were stuck in one level for 3 hours before we made it to the finale. The finale was brutal and we just could not survive. And, of course, we were “men” and picked the advanced difficulty instead of normal.
What I enjoyed most about the game was working as a team to survive. I have had dreams—at night and day—planning, coordinating, and strategizing different scenarios. It was impossible to go out solo and hoped to live. I’m thankful for the game’s voice chat system that simplified shouting out plans when a zombie horde came rushing at us or the gigantic tank came clobbering. Or being licked by a Smoker that I just couldn’t quite shoot fast enough.
While there were four campaigns in the game, each with four levels of difficulty, “No Mercy” was special. It was the only campaign that I could not beat with my friends. We tried until 5am on my birthday LAN party before we called it quits. It was depressing but something to aspire for.
Finally, Clark, Jack, Leo, and I started a game at the finale, instead of trying to beat the game all the way to the finale and earn the achievement. I think being fresh to the level gave us an edge as we defeated the finale (finally!) pretty quickly, however, Jack and Leo did not make it to the rescue helicopter. Unsatisfied, we tried it again and, this time, Clark and I did not make it to copter.
We blitzed through it one more time, and finally managed to get everyone on board the chopper. I believe I only made it because the tank swatted me in. Hey, I’ll take that any day.
So now, what’s left? We’re going to have to beat on the highest difficulty: Expert. It’ll truly be no mercy.