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Posts Tagged ‘Left4dead

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I played Left4Dead a bit more and I’m well intuned to the way the game works. It’s also a happy coincidence that I’m reading a book on game design at the same time because I can see what I’m learning as I play. I had Left4Dead for much longer than the ‘free period’ offered because when the timer ran out nothing happened and I was able to keep playing. Then it ran out some time between Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. There’s one scene on the Death Toll in which you reach the safehouse but there’s already someone in there and they don’t let you in, this is both:

  1. An engaging game tactic, take you right up to the moment when you think you’re safe and challenge you to make one last stand. It’s a pretty good evolution of the ‘King of the Hill’ gamemode.
  2. A deep and thought-provoking exploration of humanity. Someone is holed up in relative safety and refuses to let his fellow survivors in. I suppose this kind of thing doesn’t just happen in the single-player story mode either but that it takes place on the 4-player online campaign with real people. Most of the game apppeals to our ‘pack mentality’ walking around in groups, strength in numbers but when that isn’t enough, it appeals to our basic instinct to survive and sod the rest of the team.

Plus, after that scenario, you get to walk through a house which is probably the zombie apocalypse survivor’s version of willy wonka’s chocolate factory, the place is full of the standard weapons, ammo, health; but when you leave the house, that’s when the fun really starts. Firstly, you’re on possibly the most easily defensible roof I have ever seen in the history of video-game-worlds. There’s no need to watch your back because that’s facing the house, there’s a ledge to one side which holds no more than 2 people, and a sniper position in a window. The only access to the roof is either through the safehouse or up a ladder which is surrounded pretty much on all 4 sides by humans with guns. If the going gets really tough, you can retreat back inside the house, where there are moltov coktils and gas canisters to rely upon as a second defense.

There’s a supermarket you have to capture on the opposite side of the street, if the game were different, I would just camp out of the roof and loot the supermarket if I get hungry. Problem soved.

I think there’s a problem with Steamwork’s multiplayer. Me and Dylan repeatedly try hosting Counter-Strike matches and it always comes up with the mesage ‘Server not responding’. It’s proven to work within our local-area network. But it won’t let me host matches on the internet. When I tried using Left4Dead’s ‘quick match’ option it took 15 minutes then gave up and admitted that it hadn’t found anything. We’ve both opened the necessary ports on our routers and I don’t know what else to do. If I play Left4Dead in the future, it’ll be on the Xbox because that has 2-player spliscreen co-op and I have 2 controllers and the graphics are optmized for the Xbox. My laptop is good and Left4Dead is a source game, but if I play it on high settings the frame rate dies. That’s something which isn’t really acceptable in a game which requires instinct-based split-second reactions. I also belive that Xbox LIVE is better than Steamworks for multiplayer because you pay for Xbox LIVE. That’s just my theory anyway – pay for something and it’s got to be better than something which comes free.

Written by Pierre

May 4, 2009 at 07:54

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Second impressions on Left4Dead

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Yesterday Left4Dead was free on Steam as a promotion. I know why they do that and its a good sales tactic. They let you play it for free for a day and then reduce the price to make it more appealing so you buy it when the ‘free period’ is finished. When combined with last week’s Orange Box sale, I think their sales must have shot up (but there’s actually no way of knowing because Valve don’t release sales figures.) They could probably buy a small country by now. That aside, the ability to play the whole game and not just the demo was greatly beneficial because I got to see a lot more of the campaign. I finished the No Mercy campaign yesterday and got to the third safehouse in the Death Toll campaign.

I’m aware that I said I would post reviews of games on Andriy’s blog but for two things: Andriy’s viewing figures flat-lined last week and he’s going to resurrect them himself with a second, better blog. Secondly, this isn’t technically a review.

There’s no mistaking that Left4Dead is indeed a Valve game (although at first it seems to be a generic zombie-shooting game). I started reading the writing on the walls of the safehouses and the hospitals and it’s just full of that dark humour that Valve have come to be renowned for.

“Travel during they day they only come out at night”
“That’s vampires, moron”

The graphics have certainly improved on Team Fortress 2. Whereas the art style was used to simplify the way the game played in TF2, the graphics in Left4Dead are meant to enhance the feeling of actually running through zombie apocalypse. The graphics complicate things, but there’s never any mistaking the telltale gibsplats from headshots which I belive to have been pulled directly out of Garry’s Mod Deathmatch. The reflections in the tunnels and, dare I say it, the maps themselves all lend clues to Half-Life et al. I mean, we’ve seen the whole zombie thing before. And the middle european rural landscapes. And Trains.

The gameplay itself revolves around the story: You are a group of four survivors, travel to a helipad, or a boat, or a train, or some kind of object which will take you to safety. On the way you have to overcome various challenges – operate a forklift, build a bridge. That kind of thing. In fact, remember Half-Life 2’s physics puzzle sections? it’s like that except with replacing the physics puzzling with zombie hordes who assault you until the bridge has built itself or the lift has gone up. However, the campaign does not make up the bulk of the game, the rest of it is taken up by a superb survivor mode and a zombies versus survivors mode which lets you play as a zombie and rip up the opposition.

Speaking of the connection with Half-Life, the game’s origins as a modification of Counter-Strike are not lost. The weapons although tweaked are similar to the basic subset from Counter-Strike: Uzi, Rapid-firing rifle, sniper, shotgun, auto-shotgun, double pistols. After that there’s a whole bunch of other weapos in your arsenal: Pipe bomb, Moltov cocktail, Various types of compressed gas cylinders and cans of petrol both of which explode/burn when shot, Pain pills and a medical kit.

It’s rated an 18+ game in the UK and I think that’s fair enough, it’s surely not a kids game. I can handle scenes of horror because I’ve played Counter-Strike and that uses the same practice of relying on instinct to target enemies. My common sense has also matured enough (even at 15 years old!) to recognise that zombies don’t exist, that it’s all made up.

Now apart from that, the only real comment I have to make on Left4Dead is that it’s made by Valve. By extension that means I highly reccomend it.

Written by Pierre

May 2, 2009 at 11:08

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The book ‘a Theory of Fun’ by Ralph Koster arrived today. It took six weeks for Peter to order it on Amazon. It looks pretty interesting though.
Left4Dead is avaliable free on Steam tomorrow, I’m pre-loading it now.
Stephen Rodriguez – the most bizarre and wonderful French assistant to grace the Cherwell School is coming back tomorrow. He’s only going to be here for a week but I’m glad to see him all the same.

Written by Pierre

April 30, 2009 at 16:21