REVIEW: Left 4 Dead

When you have the chance, play this game with your friends.

Left 4 Dead

While I have the game installed on my PC, it’s more fun when you play this in the company of friends at the cyber cafe or online. And because it’s made by Valve (the same folks that brought you Half-Life and Counter-Strike) I speculate that there will be exciting mods for this game.

The Survivors

So what’s Left 4 Dead? Remember those “knife fights” with the bots in Counter-strike? It’s something like that but the setting is in a doomed environment filled with zombies, like what you’d normally see in shows like Resident Evil, 28 Days Later and Dawn of the Dead.

Left 4 Dead is a first person shooter and the player controls one of the 4 Survivors:

Francis the biker
Bill the old war veteran
Louis a bank manager
Zoey a college student

There’s no distinction in health and advantage when choosing any character, so you can afford to choose randomly.

Zombie Horde

The objective of the game is usually simple: the Survivors must work together to go through stages, and simply survive. When you reach the finale of a campaign, you have to hold out the incoming hordes of zombies before rescue arrives.

Hunter’s got Zoey…!

Playing through a stage alone is usually impossible because besides the common zombie type (which are dangerous in hordes) there are also variations like the Boomer, Witch, Hunter, Smoker, and Tank.

Louis getting owned by the Smoker

Some of the variations like the Witch and Hunter are capable of taking down the player, and the player often cannot retaliate until is saved by another teammate. So cooperation and teamwork really counts in this game.

Fighting through the subway

Pity that the variety of weapons in this game are few (only a total of 5 primary weapons, 1 handgun type and 2 grenade types). It would be much cooler if more weapons were added.

Although the game experience can change (a little bit) every time you play the same stage – whereby different zombies or creatures would appear randomly at each check point or room – it can get dull quickly if you play alone (like what I’m doing at home right now, lol). 🙂 And for a game on blood, gore and violence, I think it’s lacking a little since one cannot play around with the corpse like rag dolls.

The game gets more amusing only when you play with other friends or online. As long as you know how to play any FPS games like Counter-Strike, mastering this game can be as fast as a few minutes since perpetually the principles, HUD, game play, etc. are the same.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

Review: Dead Space

Dead Space

Third game review in a row. Boy, you’re lucky. 🙂 My full deck of reviews won’t be complete without mentioning this game, really.

I read about this game in the newspaper and I’m glad I got this game quite early since it was released only last month. And I suspect it will grow to have a cult following. 🙂

So what’s Dead Space all about? Let me sum it up…

– The plot and storyline is film worthy. When you mix Alien, Event Horizon and The Thing (1984 film) you get Dead Space.

– The game play is third person shooter like Resident Evil 4.

– It’s really scary…

– You face your fears as you battle for survival aboard the doomed USG Ishimura – the 1,000 strong crew had turned into hideous, grotesque monsters!

– Oh, and did I mention it is reaaaaally scary?

Basically, you control space engineer Isaac Clarke. You and your 4 men crew arrive at USG Ishimura on a repair mission after receiving their distress call. USG Kellion had a rough landing due to the damaged gravity tethers and you and your crew land on flight deck hastily.

You are half expecting (or maybe not at all) the flight crew to come and assist you and action happens real quick: the monsters known as Necromorphs attack your team and very quickly, 2 men die. You run for your live as your remaining friends, Kendra and Hammond, disperse from the lounge.

The rest of the game is on surviving the ordeal while putting the pieces together, fixing the ship to stay alive while battling the monsters that were once human.

I won’t explore the rest of the story here, partly because there’s a whole lot more to the game’s plot than just a few paragraphs to sum it up. I’m going to warn you though: the graphics are disturbing and you might need time to get used to it. (read: the corpse were designed after developers studied car crash accident victims, and the monsters are truly icky)

And the music is just as disturbing and frightening. Think of the Alien film.

This is my current craze right now and I’ll probably spend some nights on this game, with the lights off. I’ve finished the game already and played 2 more rounds. However the scare has yet to wear off fully, even though I know the drill.

(And did I neglect to mention that when I played the game for the first time, I wanted to give it up right away after the monster pried through the elevator door to get me?) 🙁

I had to have my sister accompany me for the first 2 rounds, really. That’s HOW scary it is.

As a side note, I wasn’t aware of my sister taking this video with my handphone when I was battling the Hive Mind in the final chapter. Hope you don’t mind the ‘lame’ scream, and yeah I did get trounced quite a lot.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10 – a MUST GET. And those who think they’re brave, I challenge you to play this game in the dark alone, and preferably with the volume up. I dare you. 🙂

Review: Company of Heroes Opposing Fronts

Company of Heroes Opposing Fronts

It’s probably no secret that I enjoy playing Company of Heroes when I’m not working. 🙂

And it was only recently I figured out how to successfully install the expansion pack on my hard drive. And there you have it – my review on Opposing Fronts. This game was released almost the same time last year and while the game engine, Essence Engine, remained the same, Opposing Fronts see 2 new sides added – the ‘potty-mouth’ British of the Commonwealth forces… and the mighty German Panzer Elite.

I also figured out how to fuse both the original Company of Heroes with this Expansion Pack together, so I could play any of the 4 sides anytime in Skirmish games:

ALLIES – American or British
AXIS – Wermacht or Panzer Elite

Game Play: RTS (Real Time Strategy)

The Plot: Based in the settings of World War II, the player can play either side i.e. German Panzer Elite or British Commonwealth forces. (This is unlike in the original CoH where you can play only the American side).

The German campaign focuses on Kampfgruppe Lehr’s struggle to repel Allied forces in Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne invasion in history. The British 2nd Army will see the liberation of Caen, but not without a big cost in lives.

Why This Game Rocks: if you’ve been playing the original Company of Heroes, you’re going to be in for a surprise. Depending on how you see it, of course. Because the 2 new factions require a different school of strategies to fully tap into their offensive and defensive advantages.

For example, the British Army is totally unlike the rest. Your mobile HQ (yes I said mobile) is portable and you can set up your HQ anywhere on the field. And if you’re taking control of the Panzer Elite, your grenadier infantries are totally multi purpose – they can build base structures and repair vehicles.

I have to hand it that their unit speeches – especially the British units – are more hilarious and uhm… foul mouth. 😉 (The Infantry Section sounds like Ewen McGregor and the Cromwell Tank sounds like Professor Utonium from Powerpuff Girls, lol)

And Why Not: There’s been quite some changes to the newest version of CoH and Opposing Fronts that rendered my past gameplay knowledge and strategy obsolete. For example, the T-34 Sherman Calliope is no longer capable of firing its main cannon and used solely for artillery (why not BOTH?!) and the commander points have been changed a bit depending on which commander tree you choose in your faction. Might upset people who don’t like certain changes, like me. 🙁

Overall: I give it a 7 out of 10. While I’m excited about the new changes, the new factions, the new missions, new skirmish experience, and what not… at the same time, I couldn’t forget some of the nice ole’ ways I grew accustomed to when playing the original CoH. But if you’re into CoH or a WWII history buff, don’t miss this game for sure. By far the best WWII game I’ve played.

Review: Crysis and Crysis Warhead

I’m leaving for KL in another 9 hours or less. And since I’m taking a break from ‘graveyard hour’ business, thought I’d better chalk out some quick reviews on some of the games I’ve been playing lately.

I can’t go into much detail this time so I’ll throw out a quick blurb with an overall personal rating for each of the games I’ve tried out lately – on the scale of 10 – starting with Crysis and Crysis Warhead.

(Other games will be covered in subsequent blog posts…)



Gameplay: First Person Shooter

The Plot: Set in a near future, a mysterious alien spacecraft hit the surface of the Earth – near the coast of Korea, to be exact. Since then, the Koreans have guarded the island in which the spacecraft landed and kept their activities there a secret even from the United States.

The player assumes the role of Nomad, a Delta Force member who wears a multipurpose nano suit that allows him to cloak, maximize his strength, increase his speed, and increase his armor depending on how the player uses the suit’s energy, and the ability based on the combat situation.

In the first half of the game, the player battles through the waves of Korean soldiers to uncover the truth behind the heavily guarded island only to discover that the aliens within the spacecraft are very much active and prepped for invasion (as seen in how they commandeer the Exosuit and the designs of the flyers). In the next half of the game, the player will battle the aliens as they are fully awake then.

Why It Rocks: There’s a variety of configurations you can do to your weapons, like adding the tactical attachment to shoot ‘sleep bullets’ (good if you run out of ammo) or switch to the grenade launcher and wipe your foes in a sweep. Your shotgun can be tweaked for precision shot or spread-out approach. And how you utilize the suit in combat situations will decide how you’re going to survive since it’s a one man vs. the whole army and a fleet of aliens kind of game.

Why It Doesn’t: For some reason, the storyline just doesn’t grab me. Fighting Koreans and then aliens from outer space? 😉 In spite of the multitude of configurations, I think the player could use some more new weapons. Maybe that’s just me.

Crysis Warhead

Crysis Warhead

The Plot: Not to be confused as the 2nd part in the trilogy the developers planned for, Crysis Warhead is rather a stand alone Expansion Pack, running on the same time line as the events in the original Crysis.

This time, the player assumes the role of Psycho, another Delta Force member working with Nomad, the hero of the first game. Like Nomad, Psycho utilizes the same armory and nano suit – except that his adventure on the other side of the island is… more aggressive, and not to mention new weapons too, like the dual SMG. 😉

Overall Rating: 7/10 – worth getting both of them if you’re a die hard FPS player.

Doom 3 & Resurrection of Evil Reviewed

All hard work would have been boring without playing just as hard. I am glad I bought a new desktop computer and since money was no longer an issue, I invested in a good PC that could let me play even up-to-date games. 🙂

(for the past many years, I had been using faulty computers and didn’t have the money to buy a new one. Friends often joked that I was always ‘one Pentium behind times’.)

And speaking of behind times, I finally got around playing Doom 3, albeit 4 years late. The game is a reboot of the original and critically acclaimed Doom – retelling everything from the start, now with more advanced graphics and latest game engine, id Tech 4.

I also played and finished Resurrection of Evil, the Expansion Pack and sequel to Doom 3. Even though the game had been long out, I’ll still chalk my review here.

Doom 3

Doom 3

Story Line: 9/10
With almost identical graphics quality and gameplay – and the fact that it’s from the same originator, ID Software, I cannot help but compare it to Quake 4 on a few levels though Quake 4 was released near the end of 2007.

And to begin with, I find Doom 3’s storyline and setting more preferable. Games like Half-Life and Resident Evil deal with experiments going wrong and therefore ugly abominations start roaming about. Even the Doom film story revolves to something of that nature. Being different yet staying true to the original Doom style, the player deals face-to-face with the forces of Evil. I’ve watched the Doom movie first last year before I played this game, and I learned that the film is actually a radical departure from the game (as always).

As the silent Marine (who never speaks a word throughout the game), you are not dealing with a virus outbreak or aliens from another planet, but rather demons from Hell. Throughout the game, you will be picking up PDAs and speaking to a few survivors to get a better understanding on the situation, which makes the game all the more interesting and in-depth.

Set in Year 2145 on Mars, you take control of a nameless Marine (you can put your name on him though, and it appears on your Personal Data in your PDA) as you enter Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) research facility. Humans have been on Mars for quite some time and they have developed a myriad of technology, teleportation, and genetic experiments with absolutely no regards to conscience or ethnics.

Seems like a normal day on Day One as a Marine guard, but slowly you’ll notice that people around you are somewhat paranoid or scared out of their wits. Talk to the people around you while you can because very soon into the game, you will have very few to talk to. Long story short, hell will break loose after something goes awfully wrong – the result of experimenting too much and getting too curious, I guess.

I won’t spoil the rest of the plot here but the game is pretty much about surviving against the odds when demons now start warping into the facility. People you once know are now mindless zombies. Your direct commanding officer is now possessed. You meet creatures from the Hell dimension. And the few survivors you run into, they usually don’t live long. Is there really no one else alive?

Graphics: 7/10
Definitely raised the bar when Doom 3 was released. I’ve been exposed to games with more convincing graphics by now though. There was a chill factor when I first encountered the creatures of Hell like the Imp and later the Revenant and of course, the much talked about Hell Knight.

And since the settings in Doom 3 is dark and eerie that one has to rely on the use of Flashlight very often, the terror was convincing… initially. I got over it a few stages later because the creatures grew predictable I rarely jumped out of my seat.

Face-to-Face with the Imp Die You Imp! Master Sergeant Kelly - AFTER Friendly Fire - not that it matters now since we’re all gonna die

Sound: 6.5/10
The arsenal of weapons available to the player is awesome but the sound effects leave much to be desired. If I were still into modding a bit, I would definitely have the sound effects for the weapons replaced with something that would spice things up.

Game Play: 8/10
First Person Shooter. Like Quake 4, there’s no need to have a USE key since the setting is in a modern facility powered by touch screen computers and monitors, moving the mouse cursor can allow interaction and get things accomplished in overcoming barriers throughout the missions. And boy, I like FPS!

Re-playability: 5/10
After completing all of the missions, I wasn’t into playing the whole thing again as the fun was already less than half. The enemies in the game grew predictable. The chill wore off a couple of missions later. There was no significant secret or incentives to aim for throughout the game. So I put down that the re-playability value is low, unless I engage in Multi-player.

Living torso Marine entering a portal Looking for survivors on surveillance

Overall: 7/10
Still lived up to expectation nonetheless. I had been dying to play this game from the time I first heard of it. At that time, my old computer wasn’t up to handling advanced games and it was the same year I was working full-time and studying on weekends, playing games was at the bottom of my mind.

Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil

Resurrection of Evil

Released in October 2005 as a sequel to Doom 3, players now experience the first person view of yet another silent protagonist, a lone Marine who initially went down a ruin site on Mars and possess the Hellstone.

My review scores remain as the one I did for Doom 3 since it’s a continued storyline from Doom 3, especially from where the Marine in the first game left off. Resurrection of Evil now deals with Malcolm Betruger, the antagonist from the first game. He is still alive and at large in this Expansion Pack, though if you finish all of the missions you will finally see and end to him.

Got time for some arcade? Eat my boom stick! The Maledict

Betruger had been possessed (or rather embraced the power of Evil) and has now become the Maledict, a large winged creature with a horned skull as the head.

The missions are shorted in this Expansion Pack. However you will meet new enemies like Vulgar and the 3 Hell Hunters that have their own strengths: the ability to slow time, berzerk and invulnerability.

The player isn’t going to get the short end of the stick though: you will get your hands on new weapons like the Hellstone (which the player will begin with), the double barreled shotgun and the object-grabber (I think that’s what it’s called).

Dr. McNeil - finally a real woman in all-men …… The Silent Marine II

So there you have it! Again, I know I’m late and chances are many computer game addicts have already played the game as soon as it was out. I hope this is a reminder that ID Software continues to throw out good games for more than a decade!

P.S. There’s one thing I still don’t get it though: why are some of the enemies equipped with technology like rockets and part machinery? Don’t think someone fixed those stuff on them!