Thursday, 27 November 2008

Can I learn to love the boomstick?

In most games, everyone usually has their favourite weapon; their preferred tool for doing unspeakable things that in reality would give veterans nightmares, but in game give us big, twisted smiles.

On the other end of this stick however, is also the least preferred weapon. The thing that you would rather leave there, mounted in its convenient, but supposedly random position to rot whilst you try and tear things to pieces with your teeth.

For me this is generally the shotgun. I don’t know what it is but I just really do not get along with them.

Their wide spread and high stopping power are often handy, but between shots you often have to pump it, like it was a super soaker for grown ups that fired lead pellets rather than water from the garden tap. This is inconvenient as the thing that you were shooting at often alerts its mates. This leaves you painfully defenceless as you reload, cartridge by sodding cartridge.

I much prefer the convenience of a rifle clip, gas canister or belt feeder that keeps the carnage down to a slightly lesser, but constant stream of death and self preservation.

This has however changed ever so slightly with my new favourite game (yes, I know, third blog mention in a row) Left 4 Dead.

The stopping power and wide spread is quite handy when you have a few hundred zombies filling your screen. Also you can reload whilst jabbing them in the balls with the blunt end of the gun and so you are no longer a defenceless vegetable waiting to be bent over and given unpleasantries.

This being said however, in my eyes, the rifles always win. Shotguns are essentially a lottery when it comes down to what you hit for what damage, due to the random directions the pellets like to take. Why risk not hitting the mark, when you can hit it dead on from 100 metres away with a good ol’ bullet.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Left 4 Dead

It is surprising how much time can be eaten up when you are mowing through hoards of zombies with an M16 as casually as if you were mowing a lawn. That is until one of the ‘special’ ones comes along and vomits in your eyes attracting hundreds more. I can’t really relate this to any lawn mowing experience unless you live with really horrible people.

I have been very heavily addicted to zombicidal slaughter fest Left 4 Dead ever since it came out Tuesday morning. The whole experience has left me with many emotions stirring around in my head and a smile that surgeons would have trouble removing.

The game is a fantastic blend of intense action, genuine panic and a sense of accomplishment every time you get away from the scenario alive.

To try and compare this game to an experience that a lot of people could relate to, I would have to say it is like going to your first heavy metal gig, drunken club night or being trafficked in a shipping container with 100 other people. Now imagine that all these people you are shoulder to shoulder with all hate you and are attacking you, as you cling optimistically to your mobile phone. Now imagine that your mobile phone is an assault rifle and you have a pretty good idea of what the game is like.

It makes stewarding at a football game with a crowed made up of nazi skinheads and LA street gangs look tame. If you get this game wrong, you are literally swarmed by so many ‘infected’ that even doing 360 degree sweeps of gun fire is not even enough to save you sometimes. It is truly like nothing I have experienced in a first person shooter.

Everything about this game is fun and Valve has exceeded expectations yet again, making a unique online first person shooter that will be fun for years to come.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A taste of the dead

Whilst the title of this blog sounds like a rather controversial budget cookery show by Delia Smith, it is actually referring to Valve’s latest demo for online team based shooter, Left 4 Dead.

Having pre-ordered it I managed to get into the advance release, but it is now available to everyone here.

The objective is simple, survive. You have to advance through to the end of each area, mowing down everything in your path like an indiscriminate combine harvester with guns in the blades, whilst working together as a team.

You play as one of four survivors, running for safety and away from the hordes of ‘infected’ that plague each area.

There are only two areas in the demo and a typical run through will probably take about 20 to 30 minutes but the thing that keeps it interesting is the AI director.

Like the banker on Deal or No Deal, only evil, it oversees your actions and the progress you are making, but without a Noel Edmonds style middle man. At the most inconvenient moment he can turn up the heat and flood the area with hundreds of zombies that come running and screaming from every conceivable angle.

Every game is different because the zombies attack you in an unpredictable and random manner with each play through. If an area was swamped with the walking decayed last time, it could be completely deserted the next.

With only two levels this might get old after a few hours, but in the full game there are 20 stretches of random mayhem to run, gun and die in. Talking of guns there are ten. Not so many, but they are all suited to their own specified situations, and so none appear underpowered or will be ignored.

Mowing down hordes of the undead has never been so fun, and the full venture comes out on November 18.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A game of two halves (so one I suppose)

The beautiful game. To me, this is Metal Gear Solid 4. To those who have no problems showering with other men, it would probably be football, a game originally played with the stuffed innards of a pig.

Now, I like kicking dead things as much as the next guy, but televising it with international players representing national teams is getting a bit silly.

This all being said, I have recently been trying out FIFA, and I have to say, it isn’t half bad; more 51% good.

I prefer more of the over the top silliness of Mario Strikers: Charged, where setting the opposing goal keeper on fire and punching the defenders is allowed and encouraged.

The thing that I do not understand is why you would want to play a game that is based on a game that already takes itself far too seriously? I’m sure it is fun being able to play football on the TV screen and not risk breaking a leg or accidentally touching a friend in their special place, but where are the exaggerated differences that make games what they are!

It is not fun being told that the goal you just scored did not count, because you had the audacity to pass to a player who was smart enough to get behind the other team’s defenders. Why should the game stop because I nudged the ball outside a drawn box, wouldn’t a solid wall around the edge make it better?

You can not even argue that you are playing football as you would dream it, because if you honestly want to play all eleven positions, and randomly switch persona to the guy closest to the ball, then you clearly belong in Tescos as the world’s most efficient shelf stacker.

To make football games, virtual or real more interesting, at least add a multi-ball feature or pitfalls on the pitch.