On the other hand though, I was skeptical. While I like multilayer games I am really an antisocial freak at heart. I prefer to do my gaming alone. L4D however is a multiplier FPS game with not much story or character development to it. This means I would be racing through the levels with other people, never taking time to enjoy the scenery or take in the game at my own pace.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I like games such as Team Fortress 2 for example. They are great deal of fun. But I don’t play them nearly as much as the single player games I own. I bought TF2 as part of the Orange Box paying around $30 for all the awesome games it contains. Despite the fact that the game has the most replay value out of all the titles in the box, for me it was the game I cared the least about. It was the icing on the cake so to speak – what I really wanted were the HL2 games and Portal and I would still buy the box even if TF2 was not in it. And I definitely wouldn’t buy TF2 for $30 on its own.
For comparison, the original L4D is $30 by itself. The sequel will be even more expensive than that on the launch date. Do I really want that game so badly? Will I really have $30+ of fun with it? I was torn. On one hand all the zombie killing looked fun. On the other hand I was worried that it wouldn’t be, considering my love-hate relationship with multiplayer games.
Then someone told me: “Why don’t you download a demo of L4D2 and find out if it is right for you?”
A demo! Holly shit! I forgot that people still make those. I haven’t played a demo in… Oh god, in so many years now. Last PC demo I installed on my PC was back when I still had dial up, and was running Windows 98. Ever since we got broadband internet and I figured out how to use a torrent client, PC game demos became irrelevant. :P
But what the hell, why not! I decided I’m gonna party like it’s 1999 and download myself a demo! Especially since it was on steam. All I needed to do was to click a button, then wait few hours while it downloads and play it. And so I did.
First impression: the opening intro for the demo needs to be made into a movie like NOW! I don’t know if they used actual footage from in-game cut scenes or just animated this especially for the demo (kinda like they make the TF2 shorts) but holly shit! If that was a movie, I would totally pay to see it. If the actual game has this sort of cut scenes in between levels, and if Valve is actually squeezing in a storyline elements in between the frantic multiplayer combat I am getting this game on the launch day.
I watched a cut scene, and I was already excited! This was a good sign. If the game play was anywhere near as awesome as that cut scene… Oh man!
With shaking hands I picked a single player game mode (cause no fucking n00bz are gonna ruin my first impression of this game), picked my character and launched it.
And then my head exploded.
HOLLY… FUCKIN…. SHIT!
I’ve been missing out! This game is a blast. I didn’t even know slaughtering hordes of zombies could be so much fun! It’s exhilarating, adrenaline pumping joy. And you know why? Because I didn’t die every 3 minutes. Watching L4D videos doesn’t really tell you how the game actually plays. It looks difficult and daunting – especially when you cross reference it with your experience with other zombie games where being rushed by few dozen angry undead almost always means a swift death.
L4D2 however seems to have hit a good balance – the zombies are just enough of a threat to be scary and make you jump, but not enough to be a deterrent. Valve was able to challenge me without actually ruthlessly punishing me for my mistakes. It startled me without actually even threatening to kill my team and sending me to the beginning of the level.
The fact that the single player mode is both playable and enjoyable in itself is a major selling point. This means that I can run through the game a few times to get the general feeling for how each stage works before I actually jump in and attempt to play with other human beings. I really like when games allow you to do some training like that. This means that I may not actually feel like a total n00b for once! This feature is not a big deal when you are buying a new game on a launch date. At that point everyone is more or less a n00b. However when you jump into the game late, being able to train with bots to get the feel of the weapons and stage layouts really helps.
Best part of the game so far? There is a spot in the game where you can activate a jukebox standing in an abandoned restaurant. One of the songs that plays is “Re: Your Brains” by Jonathan Coulton:
That is a massive, massive amount of FUCKING WIN right there.
I know that there is a vocal group of people out there who likes to bash the new game for not being a free DLC for the original game. I don’t really buy their arguments though. They have already been deconstructed here so I will not repeat this stuff here. I just wanted to say that the game is fun and that I like it. In fact, I like that parts of the game are played in daytime when I can actually see what is going on. Some videos of original game looked way to dark for my tastes.
Needless to say, I think I’m hooked. Valve managed to pack an incredible amount of fun into this short demo and if the rest of the game is equally awesome (which is very likely given Valve’s track record) it should be well worth the money.
How about you? Are you getting the game? Have you played the original? How do both games compare? Is it better? Worse? About the same? Let me know in the comments.