Review – Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Stories

Writer: Various
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming, Various

VALVE has crafted a group of stories in the past years, the Left 4 Dead universe, Portal and even Team Fortress got a personalized story to it. During that time, VALVE also released mini-comics for Team Fortress 2 and Portal 2, showcasing the back story to certain events or releases. Today we got a greater look at the whole picture, starting off with the original Left 4 Dead crew in The Sacrifice.

For many, this is a tense and frustrating map in the DLC released with Left 4 Dead, having to pick a member of the team to go back and them having no hope to return, even worse if that survivor can’t actually make it to all the stops in time. In this case we find out how it really breaks down, a story not just of The Sacrifice, but everything revolving around the survivors and the real state of the world. For fans of the series, this brings some emotional twists and background to the original team, for those who always wanted to know more it’ll give that and so much extra.

Quality wise, the art is a bit wild, very raw but very detailed and keeping to the tone that made the series so eerie. The dialogue expands upon the one liners that guide players through the series including an in depth look into Bill and the limitless optimism of Francis. Everyone gets a moment in the spotlight and we even meet some outsiders along the way.

Team Fortress 2 takes over the reigns as The Sacrifice Wraps up, tackling the friendship conflict announced when the Soldier and Demoman got their new weapon load outs. After a dark passage for the survivors, the Team Fortress crew picks up the pace with some of the most insane moments. The history between the two sides is revealed, the mysteries of Mann Co are blown out and all out war fills the air. If you read the friendship comic, you’ll love how the rest of this pans out as even Saxon Hale sneaks in with his retro themed pages.

Fans of Team Fortress 2 will no doubt eat up all the amazing bits they’ve managed to store in the book, with so much explained it’s a must for any player to have.

Portal 2 wraps up the book, covering many comics already well known to the public, a few chapters do seem to wrap up the loose ends though, we learn about the mysterious doctor behind the scenes and even more on Chell and the battle with GLaDOS. For many this might not be worth the sole investment into the book, for VALVE fans though, this really is the icing on a delicious cake that we finally get to taste. The art is wild as is the story, the pace and control varies in the moment of the story and reads as a tale of madness until we find ourselves at the end.

Hopefully VALVE can incorporate these into continued volumes or at least use the thought put into these to segway their own games into new avenues. Look for it to arrive just in time for the holidays this year. Unfortunately, while amazing, don’t expect it to drop teasers on a certain Mr. Freeman though.

Publication Date: November 16, 2011
Price: $24.99

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Left 4 Dead 2 Suicide Blitz 2 Easter Egg

PC modding is always awesome, today we get a glimpse of how far that can go in Suicide Blitz 2 for Left 4 Dead 2. The mod takes you from the regular map through a series of custom challenges from Portal 2 with GLaDOS dropping motivational quotes to keep you pushing on. To top it off, the maps throw in some good pokes between both series with a number of custom sequences that are fun for all.

Check out the video on youtube of a pair that found this Easter Egg.
Download: Suicide Blitz 2 for Left 4 Dead 2

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[Updated] Stack up bodies in Left 4 Dead 2’s Cold Stream for DLC!

Killing zombies is a tough task, Cold Stream in Left 4 Dead 2 actually makes that to new levels. Valve is trying to sweeten the deal as the add-on is slated for release, if they can get 20,000 people to survive the onslaught they’ll release Dead Air for L4D2 early on July 10th. Players can beat the campaign on any difficulty to earn the new achievement and help everyone enjoy the goods a little earlier.

Check out the official blog post for more information or jump on Steam and lend a hand. I’ll be in the fight in just a bit as well.

[Left 4 Dead Blog]

Update – Playthrough tips:

  • When you can grab a second pistol do so, you’ll have 30 rounds to unleash when your primary weapon goes out of ammo
  • Melee strike as much as possible when reloading, try to maintain the high ground and if you’re playing in SP, grab high range weapons like the sniper rifle to pick enemies off before leading the AI in.
  • The waves rely on users moving forward after the first attack, doing so leaves you open to being surrounded, fight the first flood and then wait for the second before going forward. If your team is tightly held you can last through these waves.
  • Solo players will die, you can’t rush in these maps, trying is pretty much suicide and leaves the team with one less person
  • On the bridge, beware of some glitches in crossing the beams, if someone falls there is a chance they’ll get stuck on the side railing until they die, trying to save them is pointless as they’ll instantly go into falling mode again.
  • In the final map have at least one person get the grenade launcher, save the rounds as much as possible, in the final zone unload the rounds to reduce the swarms to 0.
  • Heal your team often but always try to keep 1-2 med packs in reserve, in some cases the game will ask for a sacrifice, if you survive they’ll have a med pack waiting unless someone hijacks it and leaves you for dead. (Bridge scene has a charger that blows you off the scaffolding if you don’t have grenade rounds).

Xbox 360 users:The L4D team has confirmed that the 360 version of Cold Stream will arrive later this summer.

Completed using: Dual Handguns, Grenade Launcher, M249 SAW, Sniper Rifle (primary)

Hopefully these lend a hand in getting through Cold Stream and get you a new badge. Completed it in 49mins solo on hard, well designed but the boundary boxes need work still and the AI enemies and team often get stuck or make really odd mistakes through the entire campaign.

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