Monday, November 24, 2008

Left 4 Dead (Early Thoughts)

Five thoughts. Here goes:

1) The game has grown on me. The elation of knowing that the game ran reasonably well on my computer when the demo came out didn't last long. After that came the bittersweet experience of actually playing the game. I grew bored with it before the two levels featured in the demo were over. And this is coming from a guy who likes shooting zombies...a lot.

If you weren't sold on the demo, I wouldn't recommend the full game. There are more levels, but that's about it, since all the weapons and monsters in the game were included in the demo.

And don't make the same mistake I did: don't play through this game for the first time by yourself. It's not how it was meant to be played. Yes, the A.I. controlling the heroes is impressive, to say the least. During a multiplayer round this weekend, the player controlling Bill dropped out and I didn't even realize that the computer was controlling him for ten minutes. That's how incredible the A.I. is. But no matter how good it is, it can't replace three solid players sharing the experience with you. And the experience does change each time you play the game, thanks to random enemy placement and dynamic A.I.

Each of the game's four chapters take about 30-60 minutes to play, depending on the difficulty of the zombies and the skill of the players. The game demands a level of cooperation never before seen in a videogame. I was surprised by how much I bonded last night with three complete strangers while playing No Mercy.

And, trust me, I hate people.

2) So, yeah, I'm digging the game more and more each time I play it, but I still think the price tag is a bit steep. This time last year, with The Orange Box (five games in one package which originally retailed for the same price as Left 4 Dead) just out and the buzz for this game starting, I never imagined this game would be released by itself for fifty bucks on the PC, sixty on the Xbox 360.

Of course, fifty bucks is perfectly acceptable for the PC version, since you're not only paying for the initial release, you're paying for all the content that Valve will release for free in the future. That's why I went with the PC version, even though I wasn't sure I had the rig to run it. It sucks that 360 users have to pay an extra ten bucks for this game, because I have no doubt that they'll be paying for all the additional content, as well.

3) I'm a staunch supporter of slow zombies. If I ever run for public office, I will run on a firm, unrelenting anti-fast zombie platform. Screw all that taxes and crime bullshit.

But I will be the first to admit that fast zombies are required to make Left 4 Dead work. Slow zombies are just fine for games like Resident Evil, House of the Dead, or Dead Rising, but they just don't work in a first person shooter. And especially not in an online shooter, since the game would have to render four or five times the amount of zombies to make the game even remotely scary or exciting, which I imagine would be a technical impossibility at this time.

4) I have yet to survive a full campaign. It seems that I am every party's red shirt. I die to prove that the threat is serious. I almost survived No Mercy tonight, but just as the helicopter was landing, I got thrown off the roof of the hospital by a Tank. That sucked.

5) Shouldn't have made me laugh, but a Boomer came charging at our party in the sewers below Mercy hospital and someone screamed, "Ah! Rosie O'Donnell!"

I am easily amused.

* * * *

More to come. Going to go now and kill either some zombies, some Locust Horde, some Nazis, or some Nazi zombies. Life, it seems, is just bursting with violent options of late.

Oh, and I only added a wikipedia link about red shirts because it amused me that there was actually a page devoted specifically to them. I figure if you're actually reading these posts, then you damn well know what a red shirt is, and are not some godless commie heathen.

End of line.

No comments: