Greetings and Salutations, blog readers!
I have decided to review the individual campaigns from my favorite video game franchise, Left 4 Dead. I will be doing this in chronological order, although initially the game was meant to be stand alone games that mimicked an individual scary movie experience. Each game had catchy movie type titles, and movie posters that advertised the level as a movie with catchy catch phrases. No Mercy was “Curing the infection…one bullet at a time.”
No Mercy was the first campaign of the series, and this is the classic Left 4 Dead campaign. In my opinion this is the one they put tons of effort into, making sure each detail of the campaign was immersive and fun. No Mercy is the campaign our characters begin on after the movie style advert that introduced the characters and several infected types, including hunter, smoker, witch and tank. For the sake of brevity, while I will make mention of some differences between Left 4 Dead and it’s sequel, I have been playing the updated versions with all the second games infected types and changes to the first games maps, included, and I don’t feel like researching every single subtle difference that we get. If you play Left 4 Dead at all, or have followed its development, this personal choice is likely not going to bother you. If it does…sorry I guess?
So, our characters, Bill, Francis, Louis, and my favorite, Zoey, all begin on the rooftop of an apartment building, with a helicopter announcing they will be picking people up at Mercy Hospital.
The start of every campaign will give you some first aid kits and basic weaponry to pick up, with each character coming with one pistol standard. I generally pick up a second pistol and the machine gun, although for this level it would also be really smart to grab an ax, baseball bat, some melee option and a shotgun- I personally can’t stand how slow the start shotgun is, so I just make due with the machine gun and double pistols, if a character drops their pistol to pick up their own melee option.
The few times I find the magnum in the first level, I will of course grab it, because that packs a nice punch like a shot gun, minus the splatter effect of the shells, and works well for the tight corridors you find yourself in with this level. If I find my preferred shotgun the combat shotgun, I also will grab it, but honestly, I find my preferred combat rifle faster a lot more often on this campaign, and I am a pretty bad bitch with that. Depending on my mood, I rock either of these two weapons, with either a duel wield pistols or a magnum. I know I should probably do a melee instead but…unless I am in a particularly violent mood, I use guns.
So, the first level takes you through the apartment building, out into the street, and then, delivers you to a safe room.
The first level of No Mercy does a brilliant job of introducing the world, and also totally immersing you into this world. Not only do you get fun bits of interactions with the environment, like the ability to close fridge doors, and shoot out TVs which make rooms go dark, but you get an introduction to the biggest method of story telling in Left 4 Dead- environmental clues for story telling. You get to see a military jeep crashed into the building, not to mention writing on the walls and roof, which will continue through out the game.
The first chapter of the No Mercy campaign is pretty chill and calm, informative to the rest of the game, with options for every special infected except for the Tank, which on regular campaign mode will not spawn on the first level of No Mercy or Dead Center (the two starting level’s opening chapter for the two games), so it is possible for you to meet every special infected in this first chapter, minus the Tank, and I find, frequently, you will meet each of them, including the Witch, and how you navigate the interactions will, obviously, determine how you do in the chapter. Either way, you can fairly easily limp to safe room, past the car alarm, to heal up, get more ammo, and get ready to start the second chapter of No Mercy.
Second chapter of No Mercy begins with the characters forced to dive into the destroyed train station to try and make their way over to the hospital, Mercy Hospital.
The whole station is pretty wrecked, obviously the zombies have trashed everything. I am trying to avoid waxing poetic about the many ways to move through this campaigns, but just know this, most levels have more than one way to take. This campaign is no different, and before long you find yourself in the train area below, where crashed trains provide a broken path to follow to make your way through the tunnels of the trains. You find a door, and make your way upstairs to a generator room, where we get our first “trigger” point, where you are forced to alert a horde, and fight the horde while you wait for the door to open to allow you upstairs. There are ways to cheat this, but why?
After this, you run a longish ways across the street, past more car alarms that will go off if you shoot it, before finding a safe room in a pawn shop.
In the third chapter, we get a fun section indeed. Right off the bat, we had an improbable trigger point, improbable because you can shoot and blow up a gas station, which should alert every zombie in the city…and instead you have to activate a scissor lift to get to the roof, and that triggers a massive long horde. I suggest running to the ammo room, after triggering the horde, and ride out the horde. From here, we wind up in the sewers, with another choke point, but despite winding tunnels, you end up in the same spot, taking a ladder up to the parking lot of the hospital at Mercy. Plenty of throwables here if a Tank spawns, and car alarm everywhere, so a quick run to the safe room, is advised.
But, then, you are in the hospital, and ready to start chapter four.
Chapter four is all about being in Mercy Hospital, and those beautiful detail of the first chapter are back, with zombie Xrays, zombies in hospital gowns, and the entire hospital is destroyed pretty bad, with makeshift barricades here and there, showing more subtle background story telling, of the hospital trying to gain control of the situation multiple times, before it finally fell. Once you make your way through part of the hospital, you call an elevator, the small beep alerts an impossibly large horde, which you fight until the elevator arrives and ride up to nearly the roof, the last floor accessible by the elevator. Here, we have a construction zone with open air walls, so beware of Chargers or Tanks, the former not being in the original Left 4 Dead, making this part of the level rough if one spawns.
Chapter five gives you a hall way and two ladders to get to the roof top, for our first look at a finale, which, most finales tend to follow patterns.
Somehow, the radio for help signals an impossible horde that comes in waves, punctuated by Tanks. The rooftop has supplies for you, as finales will, with health kits, throwables, gas, propane, mounted gun, etc etc, all of which make dispensing the horde and Tanks super easy.
The first wave comes, you kill them, first Tank comes, kill it, second wave, second Tank, then the helicopter shows u, so you can run to the rescue vehicle, as with every other campaign, and voila. That is the first campaign of Left 4 Dead.
This is the original campaign, classic campaign, crazy good details, fun levels, and even with the improbable types of triggers for hordes, it is fun.
All in all, No Mercy is one of my favorite campaigns, I wish only that the finale was a bit more, but this campaign is fun, with a nice full story to boot. Plus, c’mon, hospitals are a classic for zombie outbreaks, so, all in all, a great campaign, that I don’t rate perfect, but it is easily a strong 4+ out of 5.
No Mercy also ranks as one of my favorite campaigns, along with Hard Rain and Dead Center, so, if you are wanting a campaign to introduce you to the franchise, I can’t suggest it hard enough.
I hope you get a chance to play it, let me know how you enjoy it.
If you want to see a play through of No Mercy, here is one I did.
Thanks for reading!