Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Let's talk about Left 4 Dead


Seeing as counter-strike source is pretty old and no longer cared about by valve / anyone, its time to talk about something new. Left 4 Dead. Even though it's been out since november 2K8 I stil maintain it's new since I believe it'll be around for a long time, much like counter strike but in a different way (seeing as it's co-op and only 8 players max)

However, Left 4 Dead is one of those games which was rated high, and yes it is a good game but only to those who've played it once, or twice... now and again. I should explain myself. First of all, if you've only played it a few times, you won't have time to spot why this game fails in so many different ways. And secondly if you must've gotten those games in pretty easily unlike how reality turns out to be if you've played it often...

Im gonna start on why I like this game so damn much seeing as the content is terrible yet I've played it solidly for half a year now.

Firstly it's co-op! yeah! get a group of friends together, and you'll definately be playing for an hour+ and if you're the typical FPS player then higher difficulty settings won't prove *that* much of a challenge. For me, quickly realising ways to conquer the game i.e closet camping or player stacking (tactic just requires all players in one place, which allow quick saving and gathering of zombies) makes campaign pretty pointless. The improved difficulties, also pointless. I say this because all what happens is if you play on expert, one shot will knock down your team mates, and zombies do alot more damage (I think its about five times more from normal to expert) Which basically means having loads of zombies hitting you is not an option on expert campaign.

Though Left 4 Dead revolves more around it's versus setting, where 4 opposing players can play as the infected! omg! Basically, much like campaign (with slight level alterations) survivors have to get to the end while the opposing infected stops them. This is exteremly fun since I believe Valve has done a good job on the way this works, you just have to play it to see that there isn't much fault on how they've implemented human controlled special infected. Despite this, there are so many things wrong only because I guess, Valve didn't intend the humans to be complete morons.

So it's time to list those points (i'll try and put them in some kind of order):

First up, even though there are only 4 campaigns available, only 2 are available for versus. That's right 2 levels consisting of 5 parts, not all of them that great... It *does* get repetitive, lucky the games differ so much depending on player's skill.

Best multiplayer game? I can't believe developers would even attempt to boast about this since most of the time you can't even play the game to begin with. Left 4 Dead has a silly matchmaking system where you get a group of people into a lobby and then the host searches for a server. Great right? Wrong.
  1. Creating a lobby is easy, but you have no control how you get people to join, you only set "public" so people who click on "find a lobby" will auto join. This may take up to 15 mins.
  2. You have no control on how you join a server, the host clicks start. And in small writing at the top of the screen it says "leader is searching for a lobby". Well in all fairness, no he's not, he's just clicked a button and the system is doing it for him. This may take forever (and there is no indication if there are a high or low amount of servers, ure just staring intoa blank screen). When a server is found everyone is instantly put in with no ready indication.
  3. Like most games there should be a way to designate 2 sides, but instead the players have to select themselves who they want to be. Host only has control on kicking a player. This leads on players quickly choosing infected side or simply just leave if they can't get it.
  4. The server you join, seeing as you have no control on what you join, could be so terrible that you'll end up calling a vote to go back to lobby and find a new one. At which point most players will leave.
  5. Players will leave if theyre losing, reminds me of DotA...
  6. Humans believing they're better than the rest, and therefore end up not working together causing arguements and a bad game.
  7. If a player leaves a server in-progress, *things* can happen, such as the server still thinks it's full.
Lets talk about playing the game now. Left 4 Dead has something called an AI Director. Intrigued? Well you should be, this thing theoretically creates a scenario on-going for the players. If they are doing well, it'll become more difficult for them to reach the end... Or so that's what they tell us. Being a player of this game, and a damn good one at that. I can tell you that the AI director doesn't do a thing since my games are not difficult, they are all random. This is why I maintain that this AI director needs some kind of human input. I don't want a computer deciding what is difficult for me. I'll give a small example, on versus mode, I can run through an entire level with an auto shotgun and not be stopped. I move so fast I can even see infected drop out of the sky... this is easy? So in what way am I being stopped? (apart from the human controlled infected seeing this) Answer: I'm not, I get away safely and generally this ruins the game.

I should note that I'm actually in favour of survivors losing all the time, this way I believe it'll make players struggle to get full survivor points every time. Saying this, I dont want the special infected to be super powerful, only the AI director to actually do something, not only that, tell us what it's doing. I've looked on wikipedia and seen an example of "stress levels" which each player has. Bullshit. I *really* want to see what mine looks like.

While running through the level, players can find items such as molotovs and pipe bombs to assist them while getting to the safe-room, the locations of these are the same every game, but they may be a different amount in each area. This being said, it does not balance the game since sometimes the winning team has a massive amount whereas the losing team may only get as little as.. nothing. One thing which bugs me a bit is, why are the ammo locations the same? Players can camp by a pile of ammo, press E, it'll never run out etc. Pointless. As well as the gun locations.

Players start with a choice of a shotgun or an uzi, and later may find a table with guns (rifle, auto shotgun or a sniper) The range of guns aren't great but im not really complaining much about that. Only that The infected players can see where these guns are, and when it's their turn to play survivors, they will know the exact location of the guns... It should be noted that, these guns are infinite, players can take 100 shotguns just from 1 table. I don't understand why there cant be guns scattered across the level, and it being limited.

For example on Death Toll (unavailable to versus) there is a part where there is a dead guard with an auto shotgun next to him. The whole team can take this auto shotgun even though there is clearly just one. But why would they want to do that anyway, they have a choice of all the guns at the start of the level. lol.

The point system in this game is awful and is generally ignored. The only thing taken into consideration is "do the survivors die, yes or no". The infected score is something like 2 points per damage you deal. Which is fine up to when you start getting assist points and that's when your points either sky-rocket or make you look terrible (oh hey you only have 50 points and I have 3000 hahaha). Also survivors have no score. And it's all quickly scrolled by at the end of both rounds.

Anyway, things are still fresh in my mind, perhaps when I play l4d later I can update on a few things. (maybe I should cover how bad multiplayer is due to bad players / playing against a team)

Finally, a new patch has been announced for mid April talkin about all kinds of crap, which im waiting for. The Crap includes, a new game mode which looks promising, the other 2 campaigns which should've been included in the first place, improvements to the levels themselves (i sure hope they re-work the original 2 campaigns because I can garuntee they won't be played otherwise), and finally the SDK which will be good but seeing how the servers work at the moment this won't shine straight away. Don't let me down Valve! (lol.)

Be Logical?

Before I go, I should quickly say the "be logical" comes from something I always say because it's something we should always do, but most of the time we don't. So most of my posts will always have two sides to it, possibly contradicting each other. But hey, that's how I roll.

Hello World!

Hey everybody, first blog entry here.

First of all i'd like to state a few things:
  1. I created this blog cuz I felt remembering things is proving difficult now and again (and i think i repeat the same points over and over)
  2. A friend told me a way to express myself best would be through blogging
  3. I feel the things I say are wasted if they're not stored and saved
So let me explain myself, I'm a university student studying computer games and in the future I do want to become a designer. This being said, yes, I do like to play computer games myself. But I don't see myself as the average 'casual' gamer. I like to win at the games I play, therefore I see mistakes I make, improve to be better etc. I could go on but the main factor I think which splits me from the norm would be that I take different perspectives when something happens. For example, when that building exploded I see it as a player in the game, what the designers couldve intended, how it was implemented, an average player's reaction, my reaction etc etc etc...

Anyway, I wanted to make this blog about my own personal views about particular events which happen while I play games... and maybe a couple of real life events. But now being a guy who uses the internet alot in games/forums/general chat I know that i'm going to have to face all sorts of readers which interests me none-the-less so I will wait till it happens.

Since this is my first blog im not gonna right down all the things I have to say about gaming for the minute so let me just get a few things out of the way.

I like to play games. My on-going are: Counter Strike: Source, Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft, Left 4 Dead and Street Fighter 4. Soon I will play Resident Evil 5 sometime...

I play all these games on PC and will continue to do so.
I bought a PS3 just to play Street Fighter 4. I do not own an arcade stick (yet)
My ongoing games means those are the games I play regularly, I have played a variety of games (be it in the 100+ on a wide range, see next.)
I own a PC, PS3, DC, SNES and an Amiga 500 (if you wanna count the atari you may but i've only played pong on it when I was about 3.) I have access to a Mega Drive, Wii, Nintendo DS and an Xbox 360.
I guess I should mention I have a 32" HD tv to use these on....
Should I list the games i've played?? Well i've thought about it, but no, I figure in the future I may make references back to something like Parasol Stars and leave you to read up on it, or if you're lucky I will review it some time.

So I hope this really hits off soon when I make my first comments about Left 4 Dead.

See Ya.