Saturday, 14 April 2012

Modlight: I Hate Mountains

I Hate Mountains is a custom Left 4 Dead 2 campaign created by the three-man French team of Nicolas, Marc, and Geoffroy. Of the custom campaigns I've played, this one is by far my favourite, with the highest level of quality and polish, some fantastic environments, and a surprise twist.

You can download I Hate Mountains from the official website or from the L4D blog.
My personal favourite part of I Hate Mountains is the underground section. At first you're making your way through some old tunnels. It's a very claustrophobic and confusing environment: there are many path choices that all look the same, but only a couple of them actually take you anywhere. After a quick crescendo event, you transition into some more natural caves, with wet walls and stalactites. You then move into some old mines and train tunnels, which are actually kind of spooky. So in just one chapter, you get three related but distinct environments that fit together quite well. I'm impressed.
You may have noticed that I said a couple of tunnels take you somewhere useful. That's because I Hate Mountains features a few branching paths, where the survivors must choose which route they'll take. It's a neat feature which Valve had actually considered for the official campaigns but dropped because playtests saw players experimenting at first, but then selecting their preferred path and running it every time. I haven't played I Hate Mountains enough to know if some paths are faster than others, but it's still fun to get to choose every once in a while.
The manor is impressively huge, with a couple of very cool rooms that actually make me want to own a house like that. It's a fairly complex layout with a winding path through the destroyed building, with a lot of dropoffs for the infected to exploit in versus mode.
The constant rain is a nice touch. It never gets stormy like in the Hard Rain campaign, but that's a good thing here. There's also a segment in a lumber mill which is pretty neat. Also the campaign makes good use of music and a ton of voice lines.
Are we in Canada?
The lakeside finale was pretty intense on advanced mode, with two tanks spawning on two separate occasions. Holding off the common infected is pretty easy if you get inside one of the buildings, but the tanks are quite a challenge - perhaps too much for many players. I had a lot of trouble on advanced, and I can't imagine expert realism.
So to summarize: I Hate Mountains is an excellent, high-quality campaign which you really should try if you own Left 4 Dead 2. If the L4D team were in the habit of making community maps official like the TF2 team does, I Hate Mountains would be at the top of the list.

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