By Video_Game_King 5 Comments
Left 4 Dead 2( After all, my last blog was fantastic.) Well written, concise, clear, all things that not only qualify it for best blog of the year (that's right, I'm planning ahead!), but are also traits that I doubt this blog will contain. The odd thing is that the game that won't display all these traits is Left 4 Dead 2, a game I consider similar to Assassin's Creed II on some levels. Besides sequel number confusion (apparently those DS spin-offs don't deserve numbers), these are also games that took a decent formula and refined it quite a bit in their respective sequels. But while Assassins' Creed II is so mind-blowingly awesome that I'm still cleaning up semen whenever I sneeze, Left 4 Dead 2 kinda makes me question how they're handling the concept thus far.
I'm not saying that they're handling it poorly; with the progress they've made this game, that's far from the truth. Sure, you're still playing as four schmucks (trust me, the word is oddly apt, given how banal their life stories are) who got stuck in a zombie apocalypse ripped straight from the pages of Resident Evil. I think. This time around, there's a big government agency who's ignoring all the people caught in the zombie apocalypse. Why? Screw you, that's why! Odd that Valve saw it fit to refrain from explaining why CEDA's full of pricks, especially given that the effort they put into making the story (IE there is one). No, they honestly seem to have made this world more immersive by doing things like at least attempting to explain why there're guns and safe houses everywhere (it's the South) and making the zombies more human.
OK, they're still a bit off in terms of being actual humans, but given the wider variety of enemies, I'm willing to forgive that. After all, aside from the usual Tanks and Witches and Boomers, you now have pregnant Spitters (stupidest joke I'll make: What do you get when you breed a Boomer and a Spitter? A Baby Boomer.), masturbating hillbillies, hump...ing.....re.....Jesus, what the hell's going on here!? Just about every way to die in this game involves some form of horrible sexual degradation! I don't know whether this is a good thing or not, mainly because I don't know if Valve put it in to strike a primal fear in their players or if they did it thinking that the face humpers from Aliens weren't human enough. I'm guessing the main reason they put these new enemies in was to make the game more challenging. Decent motive, pulled off well enough if you leave it at that.
However, I'm not going to leave it at that; instead, I'm going to leave it at "the AI is shit." Yes, I know that such a problem would be solved with human players with whom you can communicate stratagems and the like, but keep in mind that I've always kinda distanced myself from multiplayer. Since this is a primarily multiplayer game, that meant cooperating with bots, staving off the urge to shove chainsaws into their faces. Sure, a large part of the zombie apocalypse is a frantic feeling that you've lost control of the situation, but this crosses the line into unforgiving territory (also known as Italy). Their favorite trick seems to be shooting floaters while you get a face full of zombie penis, but they've also been known to be so restrictive with health care that a break for tea wouldn't be completely out of place. The only redeeming quality in them is their willingness to share pills and shots, like you're the group junkie or something.
That may feel like nitpicking, but these were honest problems I experienced in the game. I didn't expect my AI partners to be as stupid as real-life partners; instead, I expected the melee weapons to affect almost nothing in the game. How wrong I was. And so we finally come to the big game changer (pun not really intended). Before this, you were just shooting zombies that stood between you and "rescue"; now you're doing that, but also with up close weapons, like katanas, machetes, chainsaws, guitars, croquet bats...huh? What's going on near the end of this? A significant portion of those won't appear in any zombie movie ever, nor are they any better than the other melee weapons. In fact, other than the chainsaw, I didn't notice too many differences between the melee weapons. Odd, since the rest of the weapons are so balanced and varied, like they were in the original Left 4 Dead. There was also an ounce of strategy to when to use which weapon, but not with these melees; here, you can run through entire crowds of the undead with promises of instant weight loss surgery.
And that's why I love them. Sure, they often lead to you joining the ranks of the walking corpses, but weren't my actions in line with a typical zombie flick? And does it matter, I was having fun! In fact, I'd probably call that the best moment of the game. Yea, screw the wider variety of scenarios or the unique achievements or even the dickish possibility of throwing a puke jar at your friend and watching the zombies devour him; all I want is the opportunity to hack through zombies! (Oddly enough, didn't like what I tried of Dead Rising.) The only way that could've been better would be if I was hacking through the zombies instead of some NASCAR fan. That's sort of the doubt I expressed earlier: why hasn't this become a role-playing game, of sorts? I'm not saying full-blown RPG, but rather that the concept lends itself really well to character customization. From what I've read of the upcoming DLC, Valve is taking a step in the right direction, but that's not enough steps. (Would an Eight is Enough reference be stupider than my Baby Boomer joke?) Instead, Valve should have a single base Left 4 Dead, allow character customization, give us a variety of maps, keep the AI director thing, and you could have a revolutionary new way to tell a story through video games. If you're smart, Valve, you'll do what Ubisoft did and take notes. In fact, here's the Notes Award. It's not really an award, it's just a blank notepad I dipped in gold paint.
- A variety of ways for zombies to defile your corpse, irony isn't one of them.
- A variety of weapons with which to kill zombies, redundancy isn't one of them.
- A variety of methods the AI uses to screw you up.....I can't finish that in a funny fashion. Sorry, my bad.
Remember my Aladdin blog? No? Well, here it is again:
Micro Machines( Don't worry, this blog isn't going to be one, huge, indistinguishable word.) For all you young kids too lazy to run that through Wikipedia, I'm referencing a brand of plastic cars that was advertised by some guy who spoke quickly (presumably to hide the fact that they're just tiny plastic cars). Oh, and there were video games based around the toys. Not a completely alien concept to the world of video games, since we've had games based on movies, books, food, diseases, game-based movies, and whatever the hell is between all that (probably an edible Tomb Raider DVD that gives you a stomach virus or something). Like all those games, this one sucks, too.
But unlike all those other games, this one isn't a shitty tie-in platformer; it's more like a mediocre tie-in racer. Makes sense, right? At least there's one good thing in this game: the developers knew how they should make it. Through my hidden recording device, I can hear you saying, "But I could think of that, too! Why are you lauding them for something so easy?" Two reasons: first, it goes past cars a little bit, stretching into boats and helicopters, each one presenting different challenges than regular cars. Also, there're tanks, because laws back then required that every game have at least one gun in it somewhere. Second, that's really the only positive thing I have to say about this game.
Again, this isn't a bad game entirely. If not for the control problems, it could've been an under-appreciated NES gem. Once again, I hear you proclaim, "How can you screw up the controls in a racing game? A for speed, B for brake, D-pad for steering, right?" Right, Micro Machines does all that...sort of. Speed and brake work well, but the steering is what kills the game. Rather than press left to turn left, you press left to turn counter-clockwise, meaning left becomes right when facing down. It only becomes apparent during long straight paths, but the curvy, twisty tracks serve really well to hide this control oversight. They hide it by bringing to the forefront the drifty nature of many of the vehicles. Time and time, you'll plummet to your death on the kitchen floor, where you presumably roll under the fridge, never to be remembered again.
No, wait, you respawn on the racetrack, usually in dead last. It makes sense, sort of, but it comes off as a bit cheap, since slippery steering plus courses with more twists and turns than a Kafka/Shyamalan collaboration should logically equal stupidly cheap game design. Supporting my theory is the AI, which tends to cheat on later levels. No, this isn't me whining about the game being hard or it using rubber band AI; this is me whining about the enemies being FASTER THAN ME. How exactly am I supposed to compete with an enemy who travels noticeably faster than I? I don't know, but somehow, I managed. I placed first in just about every race I participated in, completely unaware that there were other cars until they crossed the finish line 39 minutes after I. So it's an easy game that's frustrating as hell, something you could've predicted just by seeing that it's a license-based title. So why'd I play it? My bet with Schmidt not counting, I'd say it's because of the freedom to explore the tracks a bit and cut corners. That's it; that's really the only thing that separates this game from other racers. That, and the Don'tplaythisgameit'squitemediocreandnotworththeallthefrustrationandbrokencontrollers Award.
- Like Left 4 Dead 2, this game is Italian.
- A variety of vehicles and tracks that play mostly the same.
- I'd say "it's so drifty that I wouldn't be surprised if it took place in Tokyo", but given that the game's Italian, I would be surprised.