Guns, Lots of Guns

Whenever there is a lull in my game playing you can count on two things. First, I will find something to shoot. Second, I will happiest if what I am shooting are zombies, or aliens. So, today a round up of what I have been shooting lately.

Left 4 Dead

On the zombie side, as Pete mentioned, we have been playing Left 4 Dead. I don’t have a lot to add to his impressions of the game. As he said, the thing here is the multiplayer. And, for us anyway, the thing in the multiplayer is the co-op. What the co-op does is almost perfectly replicate the feel of the Counterstrike games we used to play except with zombies. This can only be a good thing.

The game is also filled with small touches that reflect the amount of polish that Valve must engage in before putting a game out into the wild. For example:

1. Even when you are playing a full co-op team, the game still plays the recorded dialog of the in-game characters. This both helps the co-op along, because the dialog gives you hints provides information (“ammo here!”) and is also great fun because some of the throwaway lines are hilarious.

2. I love that the opening teaser cut scene is really a tutorial.

3. The credit roll that you get when you beat a level is inspired.

4. The “A.I. Director” changes little things up every time you play a given map, so you can play the maps over and over again just like in Counterstrike. This is something I always liked about the Halo games that I have not seen done this well in a while.

L4D has taken up permanent residence in the Xbox and will continue to do so until the next zombie game comes along, or maybe the next Halo game.

Resistance 2

From the sublime to the serviceable. In Resistance 2 you go from place to place and shoot aliens. You will have a good time doing this, but you won’t remember much about it in the end.

There is nothing that horrible about Resistance 2. But, in the single player game anyway, it has the feel of a title that was rushed out in a short cycle before there was really time to iterate and polish the content so that it was just right. With a few exceptions, I can forgive the generally generic environments and the repetitive enemies. But

1. The combat just has no joy in it. It feels a bit rote and predictable.

2. I remembered to play on Easy this time, after Resistance kicked my butt. And the game still kicked my butt. Boo.

3. Cloaked one hit kill monsters are not fun. Especially when they spawn from random directions so you can’t get a bead on them until they have already one hit killed you.

In all, this was a good short romp, but not worth keeping around. I didn’t try the multiplayer because I don’t know anyone who owns a PS3 that might also want to play a few rounds of multiplayer with me. Besides, there is no way it could be as good as L4D.

Halo

No I didn’t really pick this up again and play it through from the beginning, but a discussion of music in games reminded me how much I like the opening sequence in this game. So I popped it in the Xbox and in ten short minutes I was experiencing the joy and exhilaration of that fast Halo combat. There is just something there, a propulsive energy that compels you to keep playing. Or maybe I’ve just played the game so much that I imagine it’s there. In any case, slightly lesser games, like Resistance (or Halo 3, ha!) seem to lack this energy.

For example, I was working my way down from the bridge in the first level as the Covenant take over that ship. And I’m plugging away from behind some wall. Then I pop out and put a few rounds into an Elite and he falls over, and one of my Marine buddies exclaims, “Hey! That one was mine!”. The A.I. was complaining that I stole his kill.

Little details like this are what I enjoy most in games, and especially shooters. Halo has them, L4D has them. The guys who did Resistance 2 just didn’t have enough time to get them in there.