Posts Tagged ‘left 4 dead’

I’m making a deal with myself to try and update this at least once (preferably twice) a week. There you are, it’s on record now.

Stuff what I have done lately:

Wii Remote Plus Dated For Europe
Wii And DS Sales Tumble
Professor Layton Vs Pheonix Wright Announced

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I Review
Left 4 Dead: The Sacrifice Review
Alan Wake: The Writer Review
Dead Rising 2 Review

Box Office – Paranormal Activity 2 Has Biggest Ever Horror Opening
Vampires Suck Review (Ungraded)
Guess How Much Money Resident Evil: Afterlife Has Made?
Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Pt 1 – Now Not In 3D

Left 4 Dead

From the creators of Half-Life, CounterStrike, Portal and Team Fortress comes a first-person running zombie survive-‘em-up with what Valve claims has unlimited replayability.

The secret is the Director, an AI program that identifies how well you’re doing, the amount of ammo you have and the number of health kits you carry. The result is that zombie carnage can be unleashed upon you at any one time at any place, depending on how you’re playing.

The game boils down to just this: you pick a character from the four available (old guy, grumpy guy, black guy and girl), you load a map (city, woods, airport, fields) and you run from A to B. That’s all. But you need to make sure that your team mates are less than six feet away from you at all times because the many various ‘boss’ zombies like to interfere with the run as much as possible. There’s the frustrating Boomer that showers the team in zombie-attracting bile, the irritating Smoker that grabs one player and pulls them far away, the aggravating Hunter that jumps and mauls one person, the bitchy Witch that punishes people for not looking around in the shadows and the utterly annoying Tank that strolls in and tears shit up. You can guarantee that you’ll never be more than five minutes away from getting screwed over by a game that doesn’t like to be beaten.

And that’s only half of the problem. Valve have designed Left 4 Dead as a four-player co-op game, forcing you to rely on your living team mates to get through the levels. To cut a long rant relatively short, you can’t play the game without taking it on Xbox Live and playing with three other humans. You can play it in two-player split-screen (but not four – a bizarre choice considering the numbers), but your AI assistants become liabilities when you realise that you can’t give any commands at all.

Playing in single-player is even worse. You can only play it on easy or normal difficulties, as any attempt to play on hard or expert will result in the AI survivors turning into giggling retards by the final part of the level, becoming unwilling to do something as simple as follow you, choosing instead to run away and get killed so the others will run out to save them and get killed, thus screwing you over completely because you can’t win this game by yourself.

As previously stated, the only way to play this game properly is to take it online, but even then, the only way to get a proper go out of Left 4 Dead is to play on the incredibly unfun expert difficulty, because it’s the only place where the game is taken seriously by players who won’t run on ahead. Just like the movies it tries to replicate, relying on other people only leads to humanity’s downfall.

The levels themselves are a mixed batch, with only a handful standing out as memorable or interesting. The four scenarios – amusingly presented as movies – only have two settings: inside a city or outside one, with each scenario containing five maps, the final mission seeing you fight off the zombies while waiting for rescue. And once you’re rescued that’s it – the game ends and you pick a new level and start again. No closure, no reward, nothing to unlock or earn. Everything is open at the start and no scenario is any harder than the next. Replayable? Not really.

The idea behind the zombies is actually really good: they are attracted to sound. So such things as car alarms, activating lifts in deserted buildings, opening creaky shutters and metal detectors will send a horde of screaming zombies to tear off your face. However, the dynamic fails to hold up under close interrogation, because zombies will swarm because of a fuel gauge being turned on, but not a plane crashing. They’ll swarm because a Boomer vomits on you, but not because a petrol station explodes. Zombies swarm because a man three miles down river is on his way to you by boat, but not because you’ve detonated an explosive canister.

And another problem with the zombies is that they’re not scary in the slightest. Do anything to activate the swarm and you’ll get huge white text hampering your view and warning you that in a few moments you will be scared. Even the Director’s random swarms have a bugle cry several seconds before the attack, to give you enough time to prepare.

Of course, ‘preparing’ means simply backing into a corner and firing straight ahead. The zombies aren’t smart enough like, say, Resident Evil 5’s Majini, to attack in other way than by running in a group and making themselves ridiculously easy targets. Also, the Director can be fooled fairly easily, simply by getting hurt very early on and not taking any health kits.

The weapons are a disappointing bunch given that Valve created both the Gravity and Portal gun. You have a pistol (can be upgraded to two), a submachine gun, shotgun, assault rifle, assault shotgun and the utterly pointless long-distance hunting rifle.

There are other modes included on Left 4 Dead, notably the co-op (it’s always co-op, say goodbye to having fun on your own) head-to-head humans versus zombies game, but even that is flawed by the difficulty the game is played on, as one shot kills zombies on easier modes and survivors hit the ground like twelve-year-olds at a Jonas Brothers concert on harder modes.

All in all, it’s a valiant attempt to make a horror FPS, but is flawed by the same old problem: FPSes are not scary and never will be because you’ll always outgun those that outnumber. Worth playing a few times in split-screen with a mate, but nothing more – hugely disappointing. As for the unlimited replayability, maybe more time could have gone into designing levels or better partner AI instead of an AI program that makes the game a chore to play.

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And so there you have it! According to this one guy on the Internet, Dead Rising is a better zombie horror that Left 4 Dead. Thanks for reading. What’s in store for next week?

With so many zombie horror games about these days, I thought it would be a good idea to take two of the biggest – both exclusives to the 360 – and pit them against each other in a vicious fight to the death. Zombie death. Brains!

Dead Rising

Going to the mall can be hell. A zombie apocalypse can be hell. Combine the two and you have… fantastically fun survival-horror comedy gold.

The objective of the game is simple: you are photojournalist Frank West – he’s covered wars, you know – with three days (six real-time hours) to kill in the mall before your helicopter comes and picks you up. What this leads to is a furiously over-the-top race against time as you rush across the huge arena trying to get all the missions, side quests and fun things done before the game ends.

It’s an incredibly intricate game that rewards multiple playthroughs. Adding to the replayability is the excellent RPG-type stat boosting that allows you to go back into the mall with a much tougher Frank. At the beginning, Frank will be lucky to run from one end of a plaza to another without suffering nigh-mortal wounds. By the time he’s completely maxed out, zombies are little more than an annoyance – heads are kicked off, guts torn out, faces stomped, bodies thrown and zombies generally wiped out before they can groan at you. The major problem with this is that by the time you’re good enough to earn huge amounts of EXP (or ‘PP’ as it’s known here), you don’t need it. Maybe a few more levels above fifty would have been a good idea?

The game’s excellent running time makes it perfect for both casual bursts and long stints, with the game falling neatly into both categories, while only really allowing the truly dedicated to uncover the mystery and escape the mall with all the survivors. The genius of this is that the game can be played in any number of ways – missions, survivors or both – it’s totally your choice.

Throughout the three days, Frank is kept on a pretty tight leash thanks to a fairly irritating character who constantly rings him up to inform him of other survivors that have been spotted across the mall. From that moment on, it’s another race against the clock to find them and bring them back to safety before the zombies eat them. It’s a great idea that works in theory, but is fatally flawed in execution because of one simple fact: the AI in this game is atrocious.

All the NPC survivors (you can escort up to eight at once) have a unique personality, from running on ahead to trying to murder everything to – annoyingly – crawling on hands and knees, but they all share the same problems. The pathfinding in Dead Rising is among the worst in videogame history. Any item of any height – be it an ankle-high plant pot or a wall – becomes a serious obstacle for the NPCs and instead of trying to find another route, they will instead keep blindly running straight into it, unable to figure out what is stopping them from getting to where they need to go.

Another problem is that the final hours of the game (one hour in real-time) is incredibly boring. Whether or not you’ve completed the main missions, there is absolutely nothing to do – it’s even worse if you have because all the obstacles in the game are literally removed for the last fifteen minutes, leading to a really pointless spot of clock-watching. A further point of contention is the terrible handling of all the game’s vehicles. All six of them have the feel of being completely bolted on in the final hours of development, with little thought being done to implement them in a clever way.

However, when Dead Rising is good, it’s very good. One minute you’re dodging zombies and carrying a limping woman across a huge park whilst armed convicts drive past and try to kill you, the next you’re shooting at a deranged chainsaw-juggling clown for the right to switch off a children’s ride.

All in all, this is a truly excellent game with an incredible amount of thought gone into the development, and it shows. With perhaps a few more tweaks, this could have beaten the mighty Resident Evil to the King of the Zombies crown. Worthy of carrying a franchise on its own, this is one shopping trip from hell not to be missed.

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