I don’t know, but I get the feeling it might not be a secret anymore how I feel about this series. To put that in perspective though, regardless of how well-done a game is I still have my beefs. Here’s a freaking checklist. See, I’m already goddammed cursing. Get ready for some tough love.
Top of the list-BOT DUMB ASSED NESS. Yeah, I realize that effective AI control over an entity with as many knobs and dials as a survivor in a world as deep as the world of Left 4 Dead is no easy task. And that’s fine and all, but solid AI that keeps bots from acting like they’re from Pod 6 is one of the most critical elements in this particular game setup. And when I am-say, getting hunted, and, say, a bot standing right next to me would rather run a look-how-human-I-seem-doing-this-wipe-my-face animation than, say, shoulder me out of the death dirge that ends the level then there’s a problem. A Big Problem. A problem that wasn’t fixed in the sequel. A problem that if left 2 live in another iteration will mean one less surviving customer. Feel me Valve? I don’t care if it takes a steno pad with a growing list of special-case hack fixes. I don’t care if it takes line numbers and gotos or an extra clear carry. That shit needs to get addressed before another look-how-real-I-seem-cricking-my-neck animation is added. It’s called priorities-or not releasing a game until certain priorities are addressed.
I don’t get how certain server error conditions and other problems can make clients drop frames, stutter, and even freeze up. I just get that it happens. There’s something wrong there that shouldn’t be. The worst I should see outside of disconnects is skipping or frozen game state. Stutters and complete freezes seriously hamper online play. Play more multiplayer. Figure it out. Fix it.
Don’t get me wrong, adding Macs to the list of available desktop targets w/certain games is awesome. I know other people are doing it too, but I still can’t commend you guys enough. Just know that there is a problem with the list of desktop targets you had before. The game runs better on more current versions of Windows than older ones, even when using most of the same drivers. So for example XP shouldn’t be a problem, it’s not that old. Make sure stuff works on a sane range of OSs. Don’t ignore older OSs. Not everyone jumps whenever Microsoft decides to command a height.
Okay, I’ll ease off a little here. But these other beefs are still big fucking deals. When I look into the distance, see a regular infected, shoot it, then see it reset its animation to some no-that-didn’t-happen-I’m-actually-leaning-against-a-wall one and the thing magically goes back to having no damage, that’s not realistic. I want realism in my zombie sim, goddamit.
User-customizable radial menus and macro-able vocalizations: let me explain something using a hypothetical situation. If you make a pretty flower bed in your front yard, invite guests over, and you see they want to plant nice flowers in it, please don’t back your monster truck over the pretty flowers-more than once. Even if it’s on accident. Or at least redo the flower bed and let your guests replant more flowers. In a sane timeframe. Please.
Fix the damn collision volume issues. There aren’t many. For example, Hunters don’t need their collision volumes to be an astral projection. No one wins with that kind of haunted shit. Even if you meant to do it, it introduces obviously unintended consequences. Turn renders on for them, play different modes, see the broken stuff, fix the broken stuff. There are even forum threads with most of the work done already.
Speaking of that, when you give the community a means to tell you about broken stuff, and the community uses that means to tell you that something’s broken in the game, don’t just not read 90+% of it or think up a lame excuse like “what, free updates!”. I don’t put broken shit into stuff without fixing that crap. You shouldn’t either. Hire a damn intern to read/collate/report so you can deal with a manageable list, I don’t care. Fuck, pay me in free games and unannounced unwanted visits and shit and I’ll do it myself. Just get it taken care of.
Not nearly a big deal, but still a pet peeve-the detail in the gore is awesome. Only problem is that it makes zombie faces look a little lacking. Just a little default facial gore could go a looong way. But after all the higher priority shit is fixed.
Along with brilliant co-op elements and a fresh twist on multiplayer, the Left 4 Dead series packs a little bit of everything. If you like FPSs and haven’t tried it yet then just freaking do it, especially with package specials for both games offered routinely on Steam. If instead you’re a zombie freak like I am and don’t normally gravitate towards FPSs then still freaking do it-not only will you likely enjoy the themes, it might even change your mind on FPSs. It’s what happened to me. Oh, almost forgot-although of course it’s not critical, I would seriously recommend playing the first one before the second one. There’s a world to miss out on (including original game intent) if you skip it.
Omissions and errors-there are going to be glaring omissions and maybe even some errors here. It’s 2:43AM right now. I’m sorry in advance. Call it “Comments Section Promotion”, feel free to let loose. I can take it like a man.
Props. Gotta give ‘em. Props to the Metamod and Sourcemod community. Open communities rule, Source rules, hard work rules, and so you rule. Props to the 10v10 authors out there. You know who you are. You know how many hours of my life you stole. Bastards. Props to Invasive. You’ve been patient. This took me too long. You didn’t call me out. And last but hell no not least-props to PoE. You know how to put a real community group together. Just try to keep “C” from chugging too much of the “HC”. Plus extra bonus props, don’t let me forget. For raising some damn serious charity money with stuff like L4J.
I don’t know, I guess I could give a rating for the game. It just seems stupid. I threw enough words at you, think up a number yourself. If I had to give one, I’d have to rate the series instead of just the first or second anyway since doing anything else neglects certain facts about history and would send the wrong message. I guess a 90/100 sounds fine, go with that.