It’s hard to believe that Valve’s Source engine is turning 10 years old this month. We still remember being amazed at the Half-Life 2 tech demo shown back in 2003 at E3 and how we marveled at the huge leap in graphics as the notorious G-man appeared looking extremely lifelike.
In the zombie apocalypse, your worst enemies might actually be humans.
The rules used to be simple: Don’t get bitten; destroy the brain. Zombie games like Left 4 Dead, Killing Floor, and Resident Evil shared a vaguely similar approach, even as they offered terrific takes on one of horror’s most ubiquitous subgenres.
Note: This article first appeared in the January issue of the magazine.
I don't know if you've heard, but Minecraft is pretty great. Now, maybe (read: probably) I'm crazy, but building towers that scrape – nay, grievously paper cut – the sky and versions of Mt. Rushmore with the faces of Rush band members actually isn't my favorite part of the game. Truth be told, that award goes to the simple act of cracking open a fresh world and seeing the sights. Minecraft's random generator is a subtle master of “Ooooo, what's that over there?” and each unique world is a joy to explore. Towering, snowcapped mountains, glorious seaside vistas, winding cave mazes that feel thousands of years old (as opposed to seconds) – each one's a Costco bulk bag of block-shaped eye candy.
Meanwhile, when most gamers hear “randomization,” they probably think “Diablo loot,” or – if you've been around the block/are a clinically diagnosed masochist – “roguelikes.” That, I think, needs to change.
Right now, Left 4 Dead 2 is cheaper than its own strategy guide. Yeah.
In honor of its brand new free DLC campaign – which brings back the original Left 4 Dead cast for a bit more zombie slaughter and a whole lot more one-character-of-your-choice-dying-permanently – Valve’s slashed the prices of both Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 to a mere $6.79 a piece. We don’t know what you did to piss Valve off, every zombie ever, but from where we’re looking, it seems they’ve signed your death warrant. Or re-death warrant. Whatever.
So basically, if you’ve yet to give either Left 4 Dead a try, there’s no better time than now. Free DLC, nearly free games, and more zombies than you can shake a green, disembodied hand at; there are “deals” – like the kind you see on the Home Shopping Network – and then there are real deals. And then there’s the kind where you get to shoot things. Can you guess which one this is?
The title pretty much says it all, but that won’t stop me from using the next few lines to remind everyone how much we still love free Left 4 Dead DLC, especially when our console counterparts are stuck paying for it. The Sacrifice campaign which will launch on all platforms October 5th will be a bit of a departure over past offerings since it will support both the original Left 4 Dead along with the sequel.
This odd combination continues to mix things up by allowing those who play the new campaign using the sequel to finally control the original crew alongside all the new special infected that made Left 4 Dead 2 such a huge improvement.
If you’re eager for more feel free to check out the official web comic or teaser trailer to help tide you over until October 5th.
Left 4 Dead 2 is great fun, but there are only so many maps that actually come with the game. And until Valve releases any additional map packs, community-created maps are your best bet for fresh content. But why not learn how to make your own custom maps? With Valve's Hammer World Editor and Google's free SketchUp program, it's actually much easier than you think.
Valve's Hammer is the game map editor that comes with the Left 4 Dead Software Development Kit (SDK). Google SketchUp is a free 3D design application that has myriad uses. Using both tools, you can design and make custom shapes and objects that would be impossible to generate with Hammer alone.
We're going to show you, step-by-step, how to use these tools to make a single Survival map for Left 4 Dead. We'll cover the basics of Hammer, the art of designing a building from a reference photo, and crafting simple objects to use in-game. The techniques we introduce apply to both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2. They'll also help you make maps for other Source engine games, like Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2.
Grab and seat and dive in. Making a Left 4 Dead map is a perfect D-I-Y project for the Holiday weekend
Ever wondered what it would be like to game at 3600x1920? Of course you have! And lucky for your, [H]ardOCP has posted a screenshot of Left 4 Dead 2 running at just such a resolution courtesy of its Eyefinity setup running on a Radeon HD 5870. Check out the full sized pic here.
In case you haven't been following, AMD surprised everyone in September when it showed off a single videocard powering six 30-inch Dell dsiplays configured as a single, 7680x3200 resolution monitor. Will Smith took the whole thing in and has a writeup on it here.
Does the world really need a Left 4 Dead sequel already?
We love killing zombies. When Left 4 Dead came out, we feared that eventually we’d tire of returning the walking dead back to the hell from which they spawned, but it turns out we didn’t. However, we did quickly tire of the lame “optimal” ways that hardcore gamers developed to beat Left 4 Dead campaigns in the most efficient—yet boring—manner possible.
Enter Left 4 Dead 2. The biggest change to the established formula is the redesigned finales and crescendos—those mid-level events that attract unending hordes of zombies. Instead of simply finding a good closet and holing up for 15 minutes, popping out only to kill the occasional tank, the crescendos now require you to keep moving—either to reach a goal or collect and deliver items. The zombie closet is no more, and we don’t miss it at all.
Earlier this week, I took a look at a number of free tools designed to give your Windows 7 desktop a bit of a makeover. One of these, Rainmeter, is a comprehensive application that can substantially alter the look and feel of your desktop beyond anything you could possibly modify with Windows' default settings.
Just how much can you mess around, you ask? If this week's "Download of the Week" is any indication, then the possibilities are near-limitless. For DeviantArt user UltraBE has transformed the plain ol' Windows desktop into a HUD from the popular zombie shooter Left 4 Dead--and this new look isn't just cosmetic. It's a fully-functional statistics engine for your system.
Remember, remember the fifth of November! Topics discussed this week: On a slow news week, Will fueled Gordon's rage by briefing him on the Call of Duty PC controversies, then the guy discussed Left4Dead 2 a bit more, and closed the show with an extra-long Doctor section and another vitriolic episode of Rant of the Week!
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