Valve released this week a new campaign for Left 4 Dead, called Crash Course; it was the first new campaign released for the zombie game since the game was released. Still, though, Crash Course may not be enough to satiate Left 4 Dead fans who worry that Valve will cease development for the first Left 4 Dead game once they release Left 4 Dead 2.
The new campaign is comparatively shorter than Left 4 Dead’s previous campaigns; a campaign is typically five stages, culminating in a “finale.” Crash Course is just two stages, with the second stage serving as the finale. Fans of the game had mixed feelings about the new Left 4 Dead campaign, which was significantly more “wide open” than previous ones, with multiple routes for players to make their way to their destinations.
This zombiephile immediately tried out Crash Course, and also had some mixed feelings about it. It’s certainly a solid campaign, and the levels are designed with the same attention to detail as previous Left 4 Dead levels were; it doesn’t necessarily feel rushed, it just feels…short. The fact that Crash Course is only two stages long surprised many players, who didn’t realize that the second level was the finale.
The finale itself, however, is definitely cool: the survivors find a walled-off compound where previous survivors (now presumably zombies) had been constructing an armored truck, complete with a front-plow for maximum zombie displacement. The problem is that the truck is up on a hydraulic lift, and the survivors will have to turn on a noisy gas generator in order to lower it to the ground. Unlike previous campaigns, which ended with the survivors being rescued, Crash Course breaks from the tradition and lets the survivors save themselves – a welcome change.
The shortness of the Crash Course campaign brings with it some pros and cons. On the negative side, players who are used to really sinking their teeth into a nice, long five-stage campaign will be disappointed by the shortness. On the positive side, more casual players (like this zombiephile’s girlfriend) who don’t have the endurance for a five-stage campaign will be happy with how quickly they’ll be able to finish it. Another major plus is that the shortness of Crash Course makes it significantly easier to get Steam Achievements that require you to “survive an entire campaign without…” This zombiephile was finally able to get his “Safety First” achievement, which requires you to play an entire campaign without any survivors taking friendly fire. Since Crash Course is only two stages long, you only have to survive 40% as long as with a normal campaign.
Crash Course brings with it a slew of new Steam Achievements, both for Campaign mode and for Versus mode, raising the total number of Left 4 Dead achievements to 68; this should satisfy the hardcore Left 4 Dead players who were disappointed with having already earned all of the possible achievements.
In short: Crash Course is definitely worth playing through, even if it is short. If Valve continues to release new campaigns, even if they’re not incredibly long, they may be able to satisfy the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott who’ve threatened not to purchase the new game if Valve ceases development on the first one.