We’ve relished the movies about it. We’ve daydreamed about it happening in our own lives. We’ve even drawn up detailed plans for how to survive the admittedly unlikely event of a zombie apocalypse (answer: barricade ourselves in the local Costco). There’s just something so tantalizingly thrilling about the prospect of fighting for survival in an undead-infested world.
Left 4 Dead, Valve Software’s new multiplayer first-person shooter, delivers that awesomely terrifying experience to us. Abandoned metropolises, a ragtag band of hapless strangers, and an endless horde of infected humans—all the staples of a nail-biting George A. Romero zombie epic—are present and accounted for in this ambitious cooperative adventure. But how does this game hold up to our obsessive zombie fantasies? We busted a few thousand undead skulls to find out.
If you're anticipating Valve's upcoming zombie shooter Left 4 Dead (and if you're a gamer, then you probably are), then Valve has an offer it hopes you can't refuse. The publisher has released its Valve Complete Pack on Steam, a collection of titles which, if purchased separately, would run $235. Valve's asking price checks in at less than half that at $100.
In addition to Left 4 Dead, the Benjamin buys you Counter Strike, Counter Strike: Condition Zero, Counter Strike: Source, Day of Defeat, Day of Defeat: Source, Deathmatch Classic, Half Life, Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Deathmatch, Half Life 2: Episode One, Half Life 2: Episode Two, Half Life 2: Lost Coast, Half Life Deathmatch: Source, Half Life: Blue Shift, Half Life: Opposing Force, Half Life: Source, Peggle Extreme, Portal, Richochet, Team Fortress 2, and Team Fortress Classic. In other words, enough titles to give your broadband connection a good workout.
Word on the web is that you can gift duplicate titles you already own, but if that's you're intention, you may want to confirm this with Steam before plunking down the cash (we'll post an update if we receive confirmation).
Update November 21, 2008
Four days after sending in our support inquiry, Steam Support has informed us that gifting duplicate titles only applies to a handful of specific situations, none of which appear to include the Complete Pack. More information here.
Hate Games For Windows Live because it's unintuitive and similar to Xbox Live in form, function, and ham-fisted unsuitability to the PC platform? Well, you'll be happy to hear that Microsoft had its top code-jockeys give the old girl a tune-up, and according to Shacknews, the prognosis should have Valve chomping its fingernails to the bone.
"The new in-game Games for Windows Live interface is a significant leap forward for Microsoft. It does everything you'd expect--displays your Gamerscore, provides a friends list, and allows for private messages and chat--but is now far more effective. It's a minimalist, PC-centric approach compared to the bloated, console-derived first iteration of the software," said the website in its impressions of the service.
In addition, Games For Windows Live general manager Chris Early confirmed that, on top of delivering DLC, the gussied up GFW will also become a distribution platform for full PC games -- just like soon-to-be competitor Steam.
"Clearly it's on our road map," he said -- describing full games as a "next step."
Anyone have a chance to fondle GFW's menus yet? What do you think? Does it have the potential to blow Steam out of the water? Or is GFW DOA?
A press release from Valve has heralded the imminent arrival of the Steam Cloud; the ability to access your Steam savefiles and controller configs from any computer. Left 4 Dead will be the first title to have the Cloud functionality, and Valve has said they'll be retrofitting their back catalog with the feature.
According to Valve, the Steam Cloud will "just work." By this they mean that gamers won't have to do anything to get their saves and options into the Cloud; it will all happen automatically. Similarly, when a user logs onto their account on a new computer their data will be downloaded for them by default.
Valve president Gabe Newell explained the philosophy behind the Steam cloud, saying "For some time now, Steam has allowed gamers to log on from any computer in the world and access their applications ... Steam Cloud is a natural extension of the portability Steam affords gamers and developers, and we intend to expand its feature set as it is used in Left 4 Dead and other games coming to Steam."
Left 4 Dead launches on 18th, with the demo (which includes Steam Cloud) coming later this week. Are you psyched? Let us know after the jump.
Are you absolutely, er, perishing to play Left 4 Dead? Well, Valve has your back. Simply plunk down $5 on the undead murder simulator and you'll unlock a free demo on November 6 -- five days before everyone else.
"This pre-order promotion applies to all Steam PC pre-orders and all Xbox 360 and PC pre-orders from participating retailers in North America," read the press release. GameStop is the only confirmed retailer at the moment.
The demo will serve up both single player and co-op modes for 1-4 players. Since the demo's spewing a bubbling concoction of content, there is, of course, a catch: the demo -- like a zombie Undead American with a live grenade jammed down its throat -- will only be active for a finite amount of time.
"The demo concludes on November 18, when Left 4 Dead will be made available at retail outlets across North America and worldwide via Steam," notes the press release.
All told, though, we're pretty excited about this. Oh sure, we could give Valve a stern talking to for falling into the retail trap of giving preferential treatment to pre-orderers, but it's Left 4 Dead, guys. No matter how sordid the method of delivery, if we snag some hands-on time, we'll be too disgustingly over-joyed to care.
We'd slay zombies all day just for the heck of it, but turns out you can earn some sweet rewards for putting down the undead. Steam (and Xbox 360) achievement points, to be exact. Valve Software has hooked us up with the official full list of Left4Dead's 50 game achievements, which can be earned on both the Survivor and Infected side (in Versus mode). Among our favorites in the list? "Zombie Genocidest", which requires that we kill 53,595 common infected zombies, and "101 Cremations", which you earn by setting 101 infected on fire with the molotov cocktail. Hit the jump for the full list!
Edit: There are actually only 50 achievements, not 52.
I downloaded BioShock through Steam a couple weeks ago and have had trouble getting it to run. Sometimes it will randomly crash and send me back to the desktop with a message that tells me the display driver stopped working and has recovered successfully. I have to restart the program through Task Manager to get it to run again, but I can only play 5 to 10 minutes at a time. I have an Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT in a MacBook Pro running Vista 32-bit.
Life is full of shortcuts. Whether it's using connections to briskly bound up the corporate ladder, pumping out a term paper with the help of a less-than-legit online service, or simply cutting through the gas station instead of waiting for the stop light, there's always an easy way out. But no matter how much weight walking the path of least resistance may lift from your wearied shoulders, a nagging voice -- whether in your mind or from the mouth of an onlooker -- will tell you that you're cheating. "Everyone else worked to get where they are. Why can't you?" the voice asks. "You're doing it wrong, and you're only hurting yourself."
Videogames are, of course, loaded with such shortcuts, cheats, and "teh haxxors." And when a gamer admits to kicking their feet up and punching in the ol' Konami code, they're met with derision. "Wimp, wuss, lame" and the ever so fashionable "The developer didn't intend you to experience the game that way" readily come to mind.
Really though, is cheating that bad?
One of the most fascinating aspects of gaming is discovery. Games allow us to traverse fantastical worlds totally unlike our own, yet arguably with more tangible obstacles to keep us from seeing the sights. (Is "living for 21 years" a tangible obstacle?) For someone who can't play a game without hurriedly glancing at their watch every few minutes, cheats seem like the solution -- not the problem. Why drop two hours against a single foe when you can see more of the game world instead?
Frankly, I don't think a game's developers will begrudge you for it, either. You put money in their pockets and you're deriving enjoyment from the world they crafted. It may not be the straightforward, A-to-B path they wanted you to stroll down, but it's still an experience. And isn't that what games are about -- creating "stories" through our unique experiences?
So, do you approve of cheating? Have you been known to crack open the dev console and enter a few choice phrases, or will you sooner rage-quit a game than enter a code for a pithy 20 extra hit points?
Today's Roundup features the only variety of cheating about which I'll really hoot and holler, but that doesn't seem to hinder its unbridled success. Additionally, you'll find a couple of big-name game delays, and a discussion about how games compel us to keep playing. It's all after the break.
With the Internet's collective knowledge at our fingertips, we generally know what we're in for when we purchase a game; even when reviews steer us wrong, exhaustively in-depth 75-page forum threads usually give us at least something to go on. But at some point or another, we've all found our more rational sides obscured, and due to a low, low price tag that just screams "Buy me," a movie license that would make a totally rad game, or what have you, we've retched up an all-too-clear "This game sucks."
So, what's the worst game you've ever played? What factor intoxicated your poor brain into giving the game a shot? Was it a friend's recommendation? A movie/comic book/TV show license? A kindhearted, but woefully uninformed birthday gift?
Well take some solace in the fact that today's Roundup won't steer you wrong. Between quantifiable proof that digital distribution is the future, Crysis' surprising success, and one man's dirge for console gaming, the Roundup tells it like it is. See it all after the break.
Today, I finally got around to checking out the latest Futurama movie, "Beast with a Billion Backs." It was great, but aside from Pac-Man chess, had nothing to do with gaming. However, an awesome little bonus feature -- cut-together scenes from the disappointingly awful Futurama videogame -- did.
What really struck me about the "game," though, was its meticulous (and oftentimes hilarious) need to explain every gaming cliche in the book. See, the game itself was a trite licensed platformer, but its story went the extra mile toward making that a-okay. Additional lives, level restarts, and other gaming tropes made perfect sense within Futurama's twisted logic. But while I applaud Groening, Cohen, and co. for their creativity, I think story in gaming can do so much more.
Right now, we're sort of in an awkward teenage phase -- just beginning to shrug off the shackles of other media forms. Only now are we collectively realizing that our medium is unique, so our stories have shifted to convey that fact. Whether it's Futurama's wacky antics, Bioshock's "Would you kindly?" or other games taking sly digs at each cliche they so willfully employ, we've come to realize what our medium is, but we haven't even begun to break ground on gaming's well of potential.
So, my question to you: What topics would you like to see gaming explore? What stories need to be told? Are there any games out there that you think could very well be the next step forward for story in gaming?
This edition of the Roundup features, among other things, details on a story that could be one of this year's greatest. Additionally, you'll find an article about casuals becoming hardcores, and another about why I'm stupid for using the terms "casuals" and "hardcores." Jump past the break for more.