Greetings and salutations, Blog readers!
As you may recall from past Zombie Review blogs, I have been reviewing the Left 4 Dead 1 &2 games, reviewing each campaign, chronologically. Because it is one of the greatest games ever and I spend a lot of time playing it.
Naturally, as I got closer to the end of Left 4 Dead, and inched closer to reviewing my LEAST favorite campaign, The Sacrifice, I jumped over and started reviewing the campaigns on Left 4 Dead 2, before I finally decided to play another level I don’t love because of the ending, which also comes at the end of the Left 4 Dead timeline, Blood Harvest.
Blood Harvest, in the game story, was the last of the levels we received in the original Left 4 Dead game, and it saw our survivors leave with the military. As we later learned in “The Sacrifice” comics, and in part, the corresponding campaign that was later released, the military was hardly happy, nor conclusive, end to the story of our survivors from the first level. More on this, and the levels that come after in, when I discuss the finale and beyond at the end of this blog post.
First, lets dive into the campaign itself, and talk about Blood Harvest.
Starting with Chapter One: The Woods.
This campaign, like most first chapter campaigns in this well designed game, is a delightful warm up if you haven’t played the game recently, but also still interesting enough if you are on hour four of playing this game.
The group of survivors, Bill, Zoey, Louis, and Francis, are in Alleghany National Forest after their plane from Dead Air, the last campaign, crashed, because, surprise surprise, another pilot has turned into a zombie.
The reason, this keeps happening, by the way, is covered in “The Sacrifice” graphic novel/comic.
In the dialogue of the opening sequence the characters explain that they need to head to the military outpost, by following the train tracks. This level is pretty straight forward, with the group trying to make their way towards the train tracks, the terrain is easy to traverse, you can see things coming fairly well, and even Tanks can be fairly easily dispensed with. This starting level does offer some cool visuals and choke points, like the bridge, which, when the game added in all the special infected from the second game, made this passing very tricky for even more experienced players, as a Charger could easily destroy a group, and any sort of coordinated attacked on versus mode would make for an easy wipe if you were playing online.
The level is, however, pretty simple and fun, and before long you find yourself in the safe room. The second chapter, The Tunnel, opens up, and the group quickly finds themselves missing the openness of the first chapter, with tight quarters from the tunnel making some game play and special infected interactions incredibly fun and sometimes difficult to maneuver.
Chronologically this campaign was last, so, it is easy to imagine that maybe the developers would have made some of the parts of this level a touch trickier than other parts, and if this wasn’t true for the original release, it definitely feels that way when you add in the Left 4 Dead 2 elements, including but certainly not limited to, extra special infected like The Charger and the Jockey, not to mention the Spitter, and a few added hordes and crescendo events that weren’t present in the first version.
Chapter two isn’t incredibly difficult, mind you, but, it does go on for a while and can sometimes have you limping to the safe room.
But then you arrive, you heal up, grab more ammo, and get ready for chapter three, The Bridge.
This chapter, while a bit long, and very nondescript, has some subtle beauty one can appreciate, like being a perfect “middle” to this campaign. This Chapter is a bit basic, traversing mostly outdoors area, the group continues to follow the train tracks to make it to the Military Outpost. In the original Left 4 Dead, this chapter had a trigger event where you would decouple some train cars, causing them to wreck into a bridge, creating a path for you to make your way to the safe room. In the first Left 4 Dead, you could wait out these hordes in the convenient house next to the train and ramp it will create, and, with a small drop of some sort of health, like pills, and ammo, you could fight the hordes, and then peacefully stroll up the ramps to the safe room.
In the ports, this became a crescendo event and you had to fight through the unending hordes up the ramp, to the safety of this levels safe room.
Either way, if you as a group decouple the train, run with the train, and hop up the ramp the second it is formed, something you would only wanna do with the safety of a video game, you can time it out so the hordes are pretty easy to get through and arrive at the safe room fairly unscathed.
And that concludes the level “The Bridge” leaving you ready to start the next chapter.
Chapter four, The Train Station, you take a similar path to others you have taken outdoors, until you arrive at a barn which normally yields a bit of a headache, but tells some story, so I always go in anyways, plus, hey, why not look for supplies. In the barn you will maybe find some stuff downstairs, and upstairs I often find a throawable and a nice weapon, if not a few with an ammo drop. Inexplicably, a horde will come, but I know this isn’t a summoned horde, just my own bad luck with this blasted barn, but I tend to always Geta small incoming attack, before I exit on the roof of the barn, to pass a pile of mutilated cows.
These cows were killed and then samples taken from their brains, when he infection was still early and people were trying to stop it, and, thinking it could be transmitted or even caused by cows, cows were all killed and brain samples taken for research. I believe this is because the virus is meant to be a version of a rage virus or the mad cow disease, like with Zombieland, a franchise with which this game franchise was meant to share.
Anyways, after the barn you get to see and appreciate all the trains this level has to offer you-and, hey, surprise, you get a crescendo event with literally no warning! Fun for the whole group!
So this part of the long level has you going through a building, then along train tracks, then through two different houses with various bits of confusion about the correction direction to take, more so if you remember the original version of this chapter versus the updated, but, assuming you don’t accidentally fall out of any windows or get destroyed by a surprise Tank, you will make your way to the top of one of the houses, of the train tracks, and all you need to do is step out the window, run down the tracks, and into a safe room.
The safe room, by the way, is one of my favorite safe room elements…A caboose from a train.
But what happens when you step out of the window?
With no warning, with no provocation, with no pop up, trigger, or anything to indicated crescendo event, an unending horde is summoned the moment anyone in the part steps out the window.
Then you, as a group, must fight your way to the safe room of the caboose. Infected stream in from just about every direction, but, if you time everything right and don’t let yourself get surprised by this event, you can make it in one piece fairly easily.
Chapter five does all it does, and frankly, every time I play it I can’t help but this how much this level is the sister to Death Toll.
My theory with Left 4 Dead is that Death Toll and Blood Harvest are mirrors much to the way Dead Air and No Mercy are.
In this case, with the finale, it is painfully clear to me how similar they are. In both levels you leave the safe room and have to actually traverse a fair amount of distance, before arriving at the finale location, whereas with No Mercy and Dead Air, you merely take a small walk.
With Blood Harvest, like with Death Toll, you can also get a Tank in the fifth chapter, on top of the two to three you may face in the finale. This fifth chapter absolutely feels like it’s own level, versus merely a short fight to finish off four chapters, most of which were fairly fucking long.
Not only do you cross a decent amount of space and possibly deal with a forced interaction with a Tank and sometimes a Witch, with the changes made with the second games downloadable content, a freaking horde is summoned when you run through the cornfield to try to get to the farm house that is serving as the military outpost collection point.
So once you deal with this horde and make your way through the blinding cornfield, you arrive at the farm house which is very similar to the boat house in Death Toll, continuing to mirror that level.
You call the military, who is surprised to hear from survivors, and like with every campaign, you are told to wait it out. Obviously, some how, every nearby zombie somehow know when you have radioed the military the second time and said yeah head this way, so, once you do that, the finale begins, and you are then forced to fight waves of infected, punctuated by Tanks.
This level does have a wonderful little cheat spot on the side of the house that all four in the group can fit on, but the window near the tiny ledge does make this dangerous, and if you use NPC’s they can’t navigate getting on the ledge, so, like with anytime you use a cheat spot, keep that in mind.
The finale is easy enough to manage from inside the home too, I have done it many times by stationing myself at the top of the stairs and the NPC’s taking out the other entry points upstairs, and we knock out everything pretty fast, allowing for an easy exit when the second Tank falls and the rescue group arrives.
The military pulls up in some swank ass looking vehicle, and everyone can run, while normally being chased by more waves of infected including some special infected like the odd Hunter or Smoker, but also normally by what is the third or fourth Tank of the level. You jump in the vehicle, however, and the military drives our characters to safety.
And yet again we see how Blood Harvest mirrors Death Toll.
In Death Toll the gang leaves on a boat running from hordes, special infected, including the third or even fourth Tank, just to have their luck turn as the people on the boat steal their guns and kind of fuck them over. (we learn this in The Sacrifice comic) But in Blood Harvest the military, predictably, locks the group up and begins doing tests.
The military, also predictably, can’t handle the infection and of course, while our group is in lock down, the base is overrun with infected, and the group has to make an escape for it, again, and that is the bulk of the action for “The Sacrifice” Comic/Graphic Novel I keep mentioning.
I will cover this stuff more, as it goes with the “final” game that involves game play from these characters, “The Sacrifice” which was a part of the DLC for Left 4 Dead when they were hyping for the release of Left 4 Dead 2.
Of course, we do see these characters again in “The Passing” and I will link that blog when I review it. Thanks to future editing Abbi for doing that.
Anyways, back to the review, the fifth chapter, like it’s mirror, Death Toll, ends with our group not as safe as they think they are, however, they live to see another day, and will be seen again when I review, the Sacrifice.
The game, this whole campaign, is all in all, pretty fun, and while I do hate it because it was once the last level, and was a major bummer to end on (I mean, c’mon, did anyone think the military wasn’t going to fuck our group of survivors?)- but now that the sacrifice is an EVEN BIGGER BUMMER with it’s ending, I don’t mind this level, and can seriously appreciate how long it can feel sometimes, allowing me to become completely immersed in the game play.
Overall, it’s a good level, and yet another campaign full of reasons why this franchise is my favorite video game franchise.
If you want to check out any of my other zombie reviews, or buy the game yourself, feel free to click any of the links I have left for you in this blog.
Thanks for Reading!