College class cancelled and three hours to spare? Write about video games!
This update will be another short one, because school pretty much kicked my ass around like a hacky-sack this week, so all I really did was finish up The Ultimate Doom and Left 4 Dead 2. What is there to be said about those games that hasn’t been said already? Well, I’ll try and think of something. But first, have some numbers.
Last week’s stats:
- Beat count up by two.
Beaten games since last update:
- Left 4 Dead 2 (Steam)
- The Ultimate Doom (Steam)
As these numbers reveal, I am now four games away from reaching 100 beat games and also four games away from getting my invincible badge (ten games beaten in a row). Now that’s awesome. I have no plans on stopping anytime soon, and with no new exciting titles coming out in the next few weeks, things are looking good.
So, let’s start with the ZAMBIES, as my friend Skylar likes to call them. Zambies, Zombies, whatever – they’re rotting and smelly and you can slaughter them by the dozens in Left 4 Dead 2.
Left 4 Dead 2
Y’know, I forgot about how much I love Left 4 Dead – especially this second iteration. Valve got a lot of shit for putting out a sequel so soon after the first game, but it never bothered me. In L4D2, we got things like melee weapons, chainsaws, clown zombies, and machine guns – and all in all, it was a good time. Perhaps it wasn’t worth $60 coming straight from the first game, but it’s so cheap nowadays that none of that matters anymore. Left 4 Dead was awesome, and Left 4 Dead 2 is just more of the same with extra bloody, murderous goodness packed in.
I still think that Left 4 Dead feels weird on the Source engine, almost like it shouldn’t have been made with it in the first place. The characters feel floaty and the guns lack a certain impact – both problems also found in other Source-powered games like Counter-Strike, Team Fortress 2 and Day of Defeat: Source. But really, playing those two campaigns I hadn’t finished previously with Skylar was a blast. It also reminded me how much fun the game really was in the first place, even with my criticisms considered. Despite it being such a simple premise, there’s nothing else out there quite like Left 4 Dead. DayZ may have realistic zombie-survival down pat, but Left 4 Dead is the rightful king of the action-movie-style zombie genre. It’s fast-paced, intense, overwhelming at times, and ultimately a ton of fun. Just make sure to bring a few friends along.
Did I mention there’s a rather awesome if somewhat out-of-place pony mod for L4D2? Check it out.
The loveable demon-slaying blast-from-the-past that is Doom is up next!
The Ultimate Doom
Chances are you’ve heard of Doom. It’s a simple little game where you run around as a green-garbed angry army guy and shoot demons in the face. But back in the 90s, it was so much more than that. This was a game that built off of the strong foundations left by id’s own Wolfenstein 3D and ended up setting the gold standard for FPS games at the time, before they were definitively the shit as they are today. Doom had legitimately creepy environments with flickering lights (something kind of innovative at the time), 3D graphics (but not really), and was backed with a kick-ass metal soundtrack in glorious midi format. It was kind of a big deal.
I had played Doom in the past, but never past just the few first levels. I mean, I always respected it – but there are better, more engaging shooters out there.
So how does Doom hold up? Really well, actually – better than a lot of last-gen games, that’s for sure. Granted, I was playing the Skulltag version that updates the controls and supports mouse look, but design-wise, Doom does little wrong, even by today’s standards. The games sprite-based environments and enemies look great, if a bit cartoony – which I’m not sure is a look that the developers really intended, but was more due to technical restrictions. Either way, it looks great. The colors pop in all the right places, there’s a good amount of palette diversity, and because they committed to making each texture look somewhat high-res, it doesn’t suffer from Nintendo64-syndrome – which is to say, it doesn’t look like a low-res, stretched polygonal puke-fest. In fact, it’s one of the few games left standing as of twenty years ago that I would actually say looks good.
But Doom isn’t about looking good – it’s about running and gunning demons down left and right, and that part is still as satisfying as ever. Many of the low-tier enemies can be dispatched with just one quick shotgun blast, making mowing down rooms full of scary demon guys a lot more plausible than one would initially think. To make things more sadistic and satisfying, each enemy lets out a terrifying groaning noise as they drop to the floor – a nice little extra touch. Doom is one of those games that’s so delightfully fast-paced and tightly controlled that its easy to lose yourself in just strafing and shooting alone. At times, the enemy placement gives Doom something of a rhythmic feel, like you’re supposed to be following a sequential series of timed shotgun-pumps and careful navigation in order to get to the level exit quickly. Without immovable objects and cover blocking your path, Doom also feels distinctly fast-paced, like your character is on roller skates. It’s a foundational approach to shooters that has long-since been abandoned for games that focus more on immersion and visual fidelity, always slowing the player down to show them something or explain something. Doom is devilishly simple, but it knows what it’s doing and does it damn well, which is why it holds up so well.
While the first three included mission packs of Doom are all pretty solid, the fourth included in the “Ultimate” version of Doom doesn’t exactly fit in. It feels like a series of challenge levels developed by some fans – environments are disjointed, the pacing is all over the place, and the difficulty curve is totally misleading. Not to mention the last boss is the same boss from an earlier episode with some extra enemies around it – laaaaame. I’d actually just recommend playing through the first three mission packs, because the fourth just feels messy and out of place, like it was cut out last minute and just added back in for extra padding.
But yeah, Doom is good stuff. While I’m a bigger fan of arena-based shooters like Serious Sam that keep the same fast-paced feel but feature less claustrophobic elements, I can still really appreciate Doom for what it is – an demon-slaying FPS classic, and one that holds up damn well at that.
I have no idea. Maybe I’ll finally end up starting MGS4. We shall see.