Hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend. I got one of 2009′s smash hit (to be) FPS titles over the weekends – Left4Dead 2 for PC. One word to sum up gameplay: Awesome! The graphics are not particularly game changing or Crysis-like, but nevertheless still mindblowing. Valve did a good job proving that Left4Dead 2 is more than just a “DLC” that could’ve been applied to the original Left4Dead. New zombie models, plenty of new weapons (including a large host of melee weapons), more graphical detail, enhanced game mechanics (the AI Director is now really sneaky, having the ability to vary certain parts of maps and paths) and new maps; complete with different kinds of weather, terrain and all. I really was shocked when I first opened the game today and played the first scene of the Dead Center campaign – and by the time I got into the first saferoom, I thought to myself – wow there’s a lot to learn and re-learn in Left4Dead 2 (despite me being a seasoned Left4Dead 1 player). There are some really challenging challenges, such as getting through the burning hotel covered in thick smoke that hinders visibility.
I might do a little review write up and bring my Left4Dead fansite back from the dead soon, but what’s stopping me now is the fact that Left4Dead 2 just LOVES to crash. No idea why, but it’s NOT my computer’s fault – definitely a glitch or two on Valve’s side. Understandably, I’m not fortunate enough to own something like a HP Z800 Workstation: In fact, I don’t even have a desktop and rely on my personal, totally UN-gaming adept laptop (and sometimes those of friends’/review units) to have a ton of gaming fun. But I feel that Left4Dead 2 actually runs SMOOTHER than the original Left4Dead 1, for some mysterious reason. I can light up tons of fires, handle hordes of a couple of dozen zombies and even stare pipe bombs in the eye as they explode… and the game still runs smoothly and doesn’t crash (L4D 1 used to crash intermittently during graphics intensive parts of campaigns). If it doesn’t crash during graphics intensive scenes, when DOES it crash?! Answer: When you do certain things. Funny thing is Left4Dead 2 consistently crashes each and every time I finish a scenario. And it gets annoying that I have to restart the game after EVERY map (grrr!!). The game also crashes when anyone kills a Witch, anytime. So I have to sneak around Witches and hope that the Survivor bots do too. Valve has acknowledged the crash issue, triggered by certain events, and I really, really, REALLY hope they come up with a solution/patch FAST!
What’s not to like about Left4Dead 2? Well, based on my 6 hours with the game so far, I have spotted a few issues. The water textures and splashes look quite unrealistic (I think Call of Duty 5: World at War did a much better job at water and liquid textures). There are some sounds and textures that have been ‘recycled’ from the original Left4Dead 1, not that I mind, but it just seems to hint that the game isn’t a complete revamp/overhaul compared to the original. The musical cues of some of the Special Infected are just too ‘close’ and similar to the background music, making it difficult to distinguish between the two. I also noticed a few other (smaller) annoyances but I don’t think they affect gameplay much, so yeah, I’ll probably talk about them once I write a review of the game (that is, once the game crash issue is fixed)
Oh, I also miss the original survivors from Left4Dead 1: Bill, Francis, Zoey and Louis. I think Coach and Nick from Left4Dead 2 are both interesting, but I’m somehow not a big fan of the other two: Rochelle and Ellis (but that’s just me). I hope they bring the original survivors back at some point in time: either via a DLC for Left4Dead 2 and/or in Left4Dead 3! Preferably both. Oh, did I mention Sonja Kinski (Zoey’s facial model) is absolutely georgeous? I think I might have a fondness for her =). Bill rocks with his lines too, and he looks like George Clooney (which reminds me of the excellent Ocean’s 11/12/13 series). There, two more reasons that I’d like to see the original Survivors BACK!
And let’s not forget about Left4Dead 1 either – I’d like to see Valve continue to release new maps and features for the game. I’m still gonna play Left4Dead 1, alongside Left4Dead 2.