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Ya'ver drink Brazilian bold from fkn dunkn donuts!
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Left 4 Dead (PC, X360)

Eeeeek! Zombies!

Zombies, the living dead, vast in number, dumb as dog crap, relentless in attack and either slow and lumbering, or fast and brutal depending on what your favourite George Romero movie is. There is also something majestic every time a zombies head explode, painting the walls with zombie crimson thanks to a well placed shotgun blast, you can't help yourself but scream out "hell yeah!". Make no mistake about it zombies hold a special place in all of our hearts, yet only a few zombie games of the past have had any real impact on us in terms of quality game play. The Resident Evil series having the greatest notoriety of the zombie apocalypse and Dead Rising giving us a taste of what modern consoles can do with hundreds of zombies on screen, albeit with added frustration thanks to time and saving mechanics, not many games have been able to take what movies have given us in terms of the relentless action films such as Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead or anything Romero has given us over the years. With such good source material to work from you would think that a game in the same vein of what Hollywood has given us a zombie game would be simple to create?

Valve, the creator of the critically acclaimed Half Life series and the incredibly charming Portal have bought the company Turtle Rock Studios while the game was still in development and have put their spin on the zombie genre and boy, have they hit the nail right on the head of what so many gamers have been wanting and waiting for from a zombie game.

Children of the damned

Set up like a low budget zombie film not too dissimilar from the brilliant Planet Terror, this game stars 4 survivors who must escape one of 4 scenarios from the impending zombie menace. We have Francis, the token tough guy who is all too happy to shoot anything in the face, Bill, the war veteran who is just glad to be back in action, Louis the token black guy and systems analyst and finally Zoey, the college babe with a firm knowledge in zombie films. Taking control of one of these survivors you must ensure that the four of you work together to defeat the impending danger of the zombie populace, but it is not merely the undead who we must contend with.

Sure there are zombies, allot of zombies in fact who share the same speed and tenacity as the zombies from Dawn of the Dead, however these are merely drones and are quite simple to kill. The real threat comes from the more deadly Hunters, who can easily pounce on you from afar and tear you to shreds with great ease. Then there is the smoker, who uses his lasso like tongue to drag you from the rest of the group and choke you silly. There is also the boomer, a tubby who will vomit on you attracting masses of zombies and will explode upon death. The tank, a brute who will smash you to oblivion and will take a tonne of damage and finally the most dangerous of all, the cry baby Witch, who will impale and keep down those who annoy her (she is basically a feminist on steroids).

Refusing to give up her steroids, Madonna choked Ritchie

This...is my BOOMSTICK!

Rather than bombarding the player with complicated mechanics to work with, Valve have wisely kept the proceedings rather simple in design and execution, with (for the console versions) the directional pad controlling equipment with the flashlight, one health pack, one pain killer bottle and one explosive all assigned to one direction. The shooting mechanics are focused on aim and shoot rather than a trigger or button assigned to control the aiming element. One button shoots the other smacks, simple and extremely effective and it is this mantra for the game control mechanics which go a long way in adding tight strategy for the player.

The weapons on hand are also very simple design, with opening weapons being a choice of shotgun or Uzi with slower fire rate and reload than the later weapons. Later in each level the automatic shotgun, used for close quarter combat and high damage, the assault rifle for pay and spray action over medium distance and the hunting rifle used for long distance accuracy. You can only have one of these weapons at a time so deciding what style of action you will go for is entirely dependent on the player’s favourite method of destruction. Should ammo run out each player has a backup pistol with unlimited ammo.


Be proud Mr.Wu

In order to survive any of the scenarios in play it is critical to work as a 4 man team rather than take a solo point of attack. Staying as a group ensures that most of the firepower on hand will be used to its greatest effect and with reloading being a critical element to the game play, working in tandem to keep the nasties at bay is the best way to go. However if you are caught mid reload you can still smack the enemies sending them stumbling backwards giving you time to finish the reload.

In this game you can either go for Offline single or multi player campaign and take on the 4 chapters, or you can do the same thing online. There is another mode called versus, in which you can take control as one of the zombie characters and take it upon yourself to kill the survivors. The major difference in this mode if you take the zombie route is that the environment gets more special attention as you can break through walls or leap over fences to get to the four survivors. This mode is where most of the brilliance of the game comes into the fray.

Murder Set Pieces

Each of the levels contain at least one or two small set pieces where interaction with the environment engages some path clearing object which will naturally take a while to do its job and during the meanwhile hundreds of zombies storm the area and you must stop them in their tracks. Each set piece takes place in a slightly different environment, be it a house, an alley way or an airport with high vantage points or fences shutting you in but each of them on their basic level is the same thing with a swarm of zombies coming from one direction and all of them come in one cluster. You kill them and another group comes from another direction. The claimed AI director makes each encounter unique but at its core each battle is very similar. Having unique encounters is a good move from Valve as the game could be quite boring after a while doing the same battle over and over again. Considering that each of the 4 scenarios lasts about an hour each keeping each battle fresh makes for exciting re runs.


Mormans were unwelcome at Frank's house

At the end of each chapter is a bigger version of the mid level set piece where survival is challenged with more enemies coming at you and with the environment coming down around you with walls crumbling and doors being smashed open these final pieces become very tense situations and can easily be stuffed up without one being fully focused on the job. After the end of each level, or when a safe house is reached stats are shown on who got the most zombie and special kills, the most damage given to the tank and the witch, who was careless enough to upset the witch and who god hurt the most. This is where boasting among friends comes into play.

He was a zombie?

Still using their in house Source engine Valve have managed to utilize all the splendor from the Half Life 2 series of games and push the visuals even further. Character models are incredibly well articulated and facial animation is equally as impressive as Half Life 2 and is incredibly natural to look at. With each scenario set at night lighting has been given some special attention and thanks to the flash light exploring dark areas is incredibly tense thanks to the shadows cast by the torch light. Zombie models are very chunky and thanks to the Havok physics sending the undead flying through the air from a shotgun blast looks spot on and incredibly super realistic and at times incredibly comical. Valve have done well to take their patented engine to new heights and considering the amount of enemies on screen at any time Valve have done very well to keep the frame rate up.


Australia day celebrations: peaceful

The sound of the game although not breaking any boundaries in terms of special effects, and borrowing many sound effects from Half Life 2, it does come across as very complete and fitting for this game. Voice work is varied nicely from character to character and the sound effects from the weapons are decent. The zombies are a real stand out with snarls, coughing and groaning filling the air and during the cluster gun fights they don’t come across as a big audio mess and allow the backing music track to maintain the tense atmosphere. The biggest highlight is the Witches crying as the closer proximity you are to her the more tense the music becomes.

Is this the end of zombie Shakespeare?

Being firmly entrenched and focused on online play the team AI on hand must be at its best in order to keep those without good broadband connections enthralled, the computer controlled characters can often come across as being very frustrating, clumping together and battles often becoming too clustered and it is easy for you to swing around and shotgun blast someone in the face who is part of your own team while they basically tell you that you are an idiot. Considering that there is the option for them to duck for you to shoot over them, they never take that initiative and clearing enemies while in a cluster can become very frustrating, although this game is best spent playing with friends rather than Ai which is the intent of this game in the first place.

Braaiiiinssss!

As a single player game there is not much on offer in terms of level length when put in comparison with other games of this nature, however with the scoring and fun nature of killing zombies it is incredible to come back again and again to get your zombie genocide fix, although playing this game with friends and human team mates is what keeps this game fresh and incredibly fun. It is great to see that off-line co-op is still around and games such as this thrive off of the party atmosphere. To get the most out of this game, get your mates to come round, get the system link going, order some pizza and beer, turn the sound right up and prepare for a night of trash talk over who got the most kills and who died the most. This game was built to be fun, and although there are only 4 hours or so in terms of gaming from start to finish, the polish is high and the time spent leaves you with nothing less than a smile on your face. Brilliant if not short. Bring on more!

Visuals – 94
Audio – 89
Gameplay – 92
Overall – 92

Zombie killing has never been so simple and fun. If only there were more levels.

Review based upon experience with Xbox 360 with a Sony Bravia over component and 7.2 surround sound.

Minimum:

* Supported OS: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / Vista64
* Processor: Pentium 4 3.0GHz
* Memory: 1 GB
* Graphics: 128 MB, Shader model 2.0, ATI 9600, NVidia 6600 or better
* Hard Drive: At least 7.5 GB of free space
* Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

Recommended:

* Supported OS: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / Vista64
* Processor: Intel core 2 duo 2.4GHz
* Memory: 1 GB
* Graphics: Shader model 3.0, NVidia 7600, ATI X1600 or better
 

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Registered
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1,563 Posts
ill put gameplay more at 40 since it isnt offering the same run and gun game play as every fps (its only run and gun, only! i can play doom/quake at nightmare difficulty and get the same gameplay with much more variety and there are mods to make it coop) with a few weapons and the only thing that is makes stand out (i wouldnt dare to call it innovative in any way since it has been done many times before) is zombies and team work
 

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<font color="#FF0080"><b>Moderator<font color="#AA
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3,602 Posts
Nice review Snick, just thought I would pop in to say keep up the awesome work and I hope to see some more reviews from you in the near future.

You need some screenies however.
 

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Hackin 'n Slashin
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28,630 Posts
Left 4 Dead (PC, X360)

Eeeeek! Zombies!

Zombies, the living dead, vast in number, dumb as dog crap, relentless in attack and either slow and lumbering, or fast and brutal depending on what your favourite George Romero movie is. In any case however, nothing makes you scream “hell yeah!” every time one of their heads explode due to a well timed shotgun blast to the face, painting the walls with zombie crimson. Make no mistake about it zombies hold a special place in all of our hearts, yet only a few zombie games of the past have had any real impact on us in terms of quality game play. The Resident Evil series having the greatest notoriety of the zombie apocalypse and Dead Rising giving us a taste of the scale of zombies but with added frustration with time and saving mechanics, not many games have been able to take what movies have given us in terms of the relentless action films such as Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead or anything Romero has given us over the years. With such good source material to work from you would think that a game in the same vein of what Hollywood has given us a zombie game would be simple to create?
Something seems to be missing....


Also Instead of just being PC, it should be PC (STEAM only).
This then makes single player for people without broadband entirely irrelevant as it will take them roughly 2 months to actually get the game, nevermind play.

Otherwise great review as always snick :)
 

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The Hunter
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15,879 Posts
Is anyone here still playing this game? My PC is out of the running since I sent back my 4870 for RMA, the cooler was too noisy, thus I thought it could be fixed in those 3 weeks I'd be away. Not... :(
 

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Registered Anime Hater
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Just a small Q. here: I noticed that in all the 4 screenies you posted, you have some comrades and other people who are fighting with you (or at least, that's the way it seems :???:). Do you always have other people helping you out throughout the entire game? Just like you have comrades in CoD?
 

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Hackin 'n Slashin
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28,630 Posts
Unless they die assume you are always with 3 other survivors.
 

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Registered Anime Hater
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I assume they will die pretty soon then(?) It was the same case in Medal of Honor: Airborne and some missions of Crysis and Stalker. They'd only help you out in the beginning of a mission and soon you'd be on your own.
 

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The Hunter
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15,879 Posts
No, they're pretty crafty to be honest. Though they won't use any throwing weapons. They can be better than the average 12 year old kid who thinks he can rambo his way through assuming everyone goes his speed regardless of making the game actually fun.
 

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Ya'ver drink Brazilian bold from fkn dunkn donuts!
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7,828 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
The four of you work together to get to the end of the chapter and if anyone strays then most likely they will be ravaged by a hunter. They aren't useless per se, although the AI tactics seem to prevent them from crouching when in front of you during a firefight, and they never throw molotovs or grenades. At all times though, it's four versus everyone else.
 
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