It’s Tuesday! Woohoo! Oh, you’re wondering why we’re donning our party hats on this most mundane of days? Simple – the Left 4 Dead 2 demo’s available to Steam pre-orderers today! We’re just gonna queue up our download and… well, that’s odd. We’re sure the demo’s around here somewhere. Just, uh, hold on a sec. No, no – that’s Killing Floor. Hey, Valve, what’s the deal?
“The Left 4 Dead 2 Xbox 360 Demo is now available for those who pre-ordered and obtained early access to the demo," read a release from the company tonight. "The PC Demo is currently targeted for release on Wednesday, October 28."
Well, what are we going to do with all these party supplies now? Quick! Theme change! Now we’re celebrating, er, uh, Boss Tweed’s arrest on October 27, 1871. There’s something everyone can drink to.
If you just dropped a massive chunk of change on Doom creator id Software, what would you do next? Huh? Did you just say “Buy Valve”? No? No takers? Yeah, we’re not exactly waving our hands about and shouting “called it” on this one either. But, according to the latest stink-raising piece of scuttlebutt over at Eurogamer, Bethesda could very well be in the market for the house that Gordon Freeman built.
“However, it's also worth watching closely what happens to Steam in the coming months. Unconfirmed industry scuttlebutt suggests that Zenimax - the parent company of Bethesda, which made headlines back in June when it acquired legendary PC studio id Software - is still on the acquisition trail, and has been making eyes at Half-Life creators Valve across the bar,” reads the article.
We’ve contacted both Valve and Bethesda for comment, but so far, our questions remain unanswered. We’ll be sure to let you know if we hear more.
Sorry, Gabe Newell and co. You gave it your all, we’re sure, but in the end, Left 4 Dead 2’s true form proved too gore-splattered for Australians’ delicate palettes. Or at least, that’s how the Australian government sees it. Said a note from Australia’s Review Board:
“In the Review Board’s opinion, Left 4 Dead 2 could not be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The computer game contains a level of violence which is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic within the context of the game.”
“In addition, it was the Review Board’s opinion that there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of general zombie figures and the human figures, as opposed to the clearly fictional ‘infected’ characters. This was a major consideration of the Review Board in determining the impact of this game on minors.”
It’s true! We totally have friends who – if you squint really hard – are the spitting images of Boomers and Tanks. Oh, there’s also that one guy with the crazy-long tongue. But we don’t really talk to him. Wait. You say the Review Board was talking about "general zombie figures"? And here we thought our colossal, bile-spewing buddy had finally found a country that would accept him with open arms.
Ahem. Anyway, Australia’s still on track to receive a heavily censored version of Left 4 Dead 2, which is better than nothing, we suppose. Oh well. Aussie gamers, if our site hasn’t already been censored, better luck nex—[content blocked because we’re pretty sure it had a knife].
Is some Left 4 Dead 2 better than none at all? We’re thinking “yes,” but that probably won’t stop Australian gamers from wishing they could tear whoever censored Left 4 Dead 2 limb-from-limb.
See, while decapitation and dismemberment are apparently physically impossible over in Australia, neutering isn’t – as evidenced by Left 4 Dead 2’s sterilized state.
“The board notes that the game no longer contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment,” said a note by Australia’s Classification Board. “No wound detail is shown and the implicitly dead bodies and blood splatter disappear as they touch the ground.”
Valve still hopes to eventually release an unedited version of the game as DLC in good ol’ Oz. That is, if it can find a way to sneak past the big, bag Classification Board.
For now, though, all those kangaroos, koalas, and Wizards Of are going to miss out on the Violence Orgy. But don't worry about it too much, Aussie readers; the violence was only there to hide the real meat of Left 4 Dead 2: the racism. Good thing the Classification Board missed that. It was so blatantly obvious to everyone else, too. Close shave, that.
A couple days ago, we published a chat with Gearbox Software’s main mouthpiece, Randy Pitchford. And boy can he talk. And when he talks the talk, other people get to talking too. Especially when Pitchford launches a few verbal volleys in Steam’s direction – calling it a “money grab” -- as he did in our interview. As a result, Tripwire Interactive (Red Orchestra, Killing Floor) president John Gibson has decided to fire back.
“Is Valve exploiting independent developers? In short: absolutely not. Without pulling any punches, I can say with certainty that if it weren't for Steam, there would be no Tripwire Interactive right now,” Gibson said, explaining that he believes Valve has “kicked off an indie revolution.”
“Randy's statements suggest that small developers are getting ripped off through their royalty rates. Without breaking any non-disclosure agreements, let me just say that our royalty deal was great, and is in line with what I understand that other digital distribution services are offering.”
“We have never had a situation where Valve downplayed our competing titles. On the contrary, they have done a great job of promoting our games on the front page of the Steam store and through the pop-up advertisements on Steam.”
Gibson also emphasized that all publishers find themselves awash in the murk of “conflicts of interest” at some point or another. “With console digital distribution, Microsoft and Sony have a complete monopoly on their platforms, and both companies make first party games. At least Valve has competition on the PC,” he added.
Gibson’s full response is available for your perusal over at Gamasutra. It’s definitely worth a read.
Zombies are nature’s griefers, it would seem. Or at least, they are if Left 4 Dead 2’s new “Scavenge” multiplayer mode is to be believed. See, here, the shambling jerks aren’t even looking to get their fill of juicy, succulent brains anymore. Nope. Instead, they’re actively seeking to knock out survivors’ power generators for -- what we can only assume to be -- fun. After all, if those pesky zombies were hurting for a heaping helping of brains, why wouldn’t they just chase down the survivors like always?
So here’s how it works: players are divided into the usual teams of survivors and special infected, just like in versus mode. Levels are littered with a grand total of 16 gas canisters, which survivors must collect in order to power a generator. The mode is played as a series of two minute rounds, though more time is added to the clock each time survivors manage to haul a can to their generator.
The infected team, of course, is out to make life difficult for the survivors by playing keep-away with the cans. Apparently, Spitters and Jockeys really shine here, as they can set cans on fire and “steer” survivors away from their objectives, respectively.
Left 4 Dead 2 will launch with six Scavenge maps – one for each campaign – on November 17. There's a video of the new mode in action here.
With Left 4 Dead 2, Valve’s showing its full hand. It’s going all out. After all, with no other major franchise to help line the developer’s pockets, what other choice does it have?
"We'll be supporting Left 4 Dead 2's launch with a $25 million campaign," said Doug Lombardi, Valve's vice-president of Marketing. "Left 4 Dead 2 has already set the record for greatest number of pre-orders in our company's history, and we're still over a month out from shipping."
"Based on the strength of pre-orders, Left 4 Dead 2 will be the fastest-selling product in Valve's history," said Gabe Newell, president of Valve. "Left 4 Dead 2 has consistently run at 300% of Left 4 Dead's numbers."
So yeah, Left 4 Dead 2 – no pressure.
Now if only Valve tried its hand at building up another series – perhaps something with, say, physicists and small crablike creatures that reside on or around the head. They could be called… cranium crustaceans! Too bad Valve hasn’t been keeping a sequel to a crazy idea like that under wraps for nearly three years.
We usually use this space to write about videogames. We’re hardly advice columnists. But believe us when we – as your friends – advise you to quit dilly-dallying and just preorder Left 4 Dead 2 already. Valve’s sweetened the pot time and time again, and we’ll be damned if it isn’t starting to smell mighty fine.
Early bird gets the worm, so they say, but Valve’s taking it a few steps further. Here, said tech-savvy bird will nab an exclusive melee weapon (the American baseball bat), early access to the Left 4 Dead 2 demo, and 10% off the game.
If more purchases came with free baseball bats, this world would be a much more zombie-free place. Granted, our planet’s tree population might also suffer a bit, but as we all know, if the zombies win, deforestation won't be far off.
If you’ve played Left 4 Dead to death, Valve’s just made a pair of announcements that are sure to brighten your day.
First up, Left 4 Dead’s “Crash Course” DLC will finally walk among the living on September 29. It’s free, of course, and includes a new campaign, new survival maps, and a few other tweaks and balances.
Then, just in time to catch you on the rebound after you’ve kicked Crash Course to the curb, Valve’s dropping a Left 4 Dead 2 demo on October 27. Preorderers will apparently gain early access to the demo, though, and since you’re probably already going to buy the game anyway, you might as well.
As for what the demo actually contains, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. We’ll let you know as soon as Valve finally spills its guts. Our highly advanced torture techniques – known as “extreme nagging” in some circles -- break everyone eventually.
Some of you, we’re sure, are probably exercising your God-given right to boycott Left 4 Dead 2 for whatever reason. Australia, though, totally has us Yanks beat. Over there, no one’s buying the game! Oh, what’s that you say? The game’s been “banned” in good ol’ Oz? That’s why they’re not buying it? Well then, that’s no good at all.
As it turns out, Left 4 Dead 2 was refused classification by Australia’s ratings board, the OFLC. Why? Because it’s too violent, apparently.
“The game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon ‘the Infected’ who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently,” reads the OFLC description of the game. “Attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.”
“We were surprised to hear of this news yesterday,” Valve’s Doug Lombardi said. “Obviously, everyone at Valve is pretty bummed. It would be a shame if folks in Australia, or anywhere else, are unable to purchase Left 4 Dead 2 because of a ratings issue.”
Bummer indeed, Doug. Guess it’s time to start stuffing those zombies with marzipan and kittens instead of blood and bone. And maybe replace gunfire with the sound of children’s laughter. Yeah, that ought to do it.