11 November, 2008

Game Journal: Left 4 Dead

I keep trying to hate Left 4 Dead. I'm failing.

It's becoming a love / hate relationship.

I love shooting zombies. And this is the best zombie shooter ever. Zombies move with momentum and mass. If you bash one into another, they knock into each other and sometimes fall over. They jerk as you shoot them. If you have a really good gun they lose extremities. They blow up. They catch on fire and stumble around. If it was humans, it would be horrifyingly graphic. But since it's zombies it's superbly gratifying. Go figure.

And yeah, sometimes they get stuck in canned death animations that make it hard to tell when they're dead. And the fact that they fall right through you like ghosts can take you out of the moment, but these are standard game concessions.

I guess my main problem is that I hate having my success or failure rest in the hands of random people, or bad AI. (Seriously. Try taking down a Tank on Expert with only AI for backup.) The Penny Arcade beta group has a lot of good people, who are fun and don't suck. I would let fodder boy, Galaga Galaxian, or Carbon Fire guard my back any day of the week. But playing on public servers is a real crap shoot, and getting shot in the back or constantly having to go rescue someone who doesn't stay with the group gets old in a hurry.

I guess you could argue that I'm not deriving the appropriate pleasure from heroism. But if I have to save the same person repeatedly, I feel like I'm not helping. I'm enabling.

And of course everyone kills everyone else at the end of the second level because if you actually finish it you don't get any stats (like you do at the end of the first level), and you have to sit through the stupid "buy this game" movie. I COULDN'T BE PLAYING IT IF I HADN'T ALREADY BOUGHT IT!

Sigh. I want to love this game. I see many reasons to love this game. But I've played the two demo levels to death and it's time to knock it off. Back to World War II. Again.

But wait! What in the world could that be?

It's King Bill! Run!

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