Left 4 Dead Better than Left 4 Dead 2?

I’ve been playing Left 4 Dead 2 a lot recently, and despite it, and its prequel being understandably similar, (they were released a year apart so how different could they be), L4D2 fails to improve on all aspects of its predecessors, which is unusual for a video game.

 

Firstly, I thought the overall tone of the first was better. It seemed a lot darker and grittier as you’d expect a zombie game to be. L4D2 on the other hand seemed almost cartoonish in the graphics department and  I understand the decision to change a lot of it to during daylight or at least dusk since it probably would seem a bit samey with the same appearance in the second. That’s why I think they should just have kept releasing new maps for it, rather than a new game a year later.

Secondly, I feel they overcomplicated L4D2 in a way. The first’s simplicity was great, it was just four people, a limited amount of guns each with their own distinct strengths and weaknesses and the same with the enemies. None of this laser sight and explosive rounds rubbish. The more open-ended environments didn’t feel right with me either. There’s nothing like a series of narrow corridors and a swarm of enemies or a tank charging right at you to get the tension going.

Though I know I’m in the minority. It just seemed like the changes to the game engine were pretty inconsequential, the only one that actually made a difference or set it apart from the original in any way was the addition of melee weapons but they could have simply patched this into the first game. I think I’m just bitter at paying £20 for what is essentially DLC.

That said, L4D2 is still miles better than most online co-op games and I’ll probably buy whatever future instalments they ram down my throat.

 

 

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Mirrors Edge 2 to use Battlefield 3 Engine?

Footage of the Frostbite 2.0 engine has recently surfaced, demonstrating the technology behind upcoming tactical FPS Battlefield 3 and part of the video demo shows a scene bearing an uncanny similarity to the art style of Mirrors Edge:

Frostbite 2 Engine

Mirrors Edge

The screens show a similar colour palette, with the original Mirrors Edge’s trademark stark red tone and distinct radiosity, particularly in the wall textures but that’s not all that’s similar.

Take a look at the white barrel in the screenshot then compare it with one from Mirrors Edge. The rings around the barrels are an almost perfect match:

The fact that both Battlefield 3 and Mirrors Edge are being developed by DICE adds weight to the theory since a game developer would most likely want to make the most of a brand new proprietary engine.

However at this point not much is know about a Mirrors Edge sequel. Last year, executive producer at DICE Karl-Magnus Trodesson said:

“I can’t really comment on that because we haven’t officially announced that we’re working on it”, adding: “But we were very happy and proud of Mirror’s Edge one as a studio, so we are thinking about what we are going to do in the future” and other than this nothing is known about the project.

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Killzone 3 beta rank and unlocks won’t be retained

Guerrilla Games has confirmed that player’s multiplayer rank progress and the resulting unlocks in Killzone 3’s beta will not be carried through to the full game.

The twitter account for the official Killzone website stated: “for the main game everyone will start with a fresh slate. Sorry. :)”

While hardly surprising, it may come as a disappointment to gamers who have already invested a significant amount of time in the open beta, which was made available on Thursday.

It’s easy to see why the ranking progress isn’t kept, since it gives an unfair advantage to players who manage to max out their rank before the game is even released but then again, players are doing Guerrilla Games a favour by testing the beta since it allows them to iron out the bugs before release and this would be a good bit of initiative, as if the chance to play the game isn’t initiative enough.

Killzone 3 is released February 22nd in North America, February 23rd in the EU and February 25th in the UK, exclusive to Playstation 3.

 

Killzone 3 – Multiplayer’s one major flaw.

The Killzone 3 Open Multiplayer Beta was released today, featuring the Frozen Dam level, playable with 3 different game modes.

Predictably, the visuals are crisp and richly detailed and the gameplay builds and improves upon that of its predecessors, but others have gone on about how brilliant the gameplay is so I don’t need to. However, based on the beta as well as footage of the other maps it seems there is one major flaw that’s been seldom mentioned. Putting it bluntly, the maps are too big and open ended.

Now there are generally two different styles of multiplayer first person shooter. There are the arcade frag-fests like Unreal Tournament or Wolfenstein or there’s the tactical team based shooter like Counter Strike, Socom, or the Battlefield series.

Killzone 3 falls into the latter category because of its variety of classes and skills that are unique to each, favouring team play rather than a free for all attempt to get the best score. Also, the small amount of health you have is in line with this tactical style of multiplayer gameplay.

But since the maps are too open ended and sprawling, allowing the enemy to attack you from literally any direction, any hope of playing it strategically is destroyed. The Frozen Dam map on the beta is a perfect example of this problem, one that was also present in Killzone 2. The maps are chaotic with no clear direction. Now this sort of map is fine for a game like Unreal Tournament, but when you’re meant to be acting as a team, laying down defences and working towards an objective a bit of linearity goes a long way.

Take Counter Strike for example. The best maps on this game, like Office, Dust or Aztec always limit the routes you can take and usually there are only really two broad paths you can take in a level and because of this, team are forced to stick together. Killzone 2 and 3’s maps feature winding passages, vertical gameplay and multiple paths meaning the team is broken up pretty quickly. This sort of map but might be a bit better on a PC shooter where, generally, more players can join a server, but for a console game where players are limited to 16 or 32 the maps are pretty huge.

After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than two teams fighting for dominance over one corridor, relying on each other’s skills and tactics to push forward but unfortunately this just isn’t possibly on Killzone’s maps. It’s a shame because Guerrilla Games have nailed everything else. The shooting mechanics are spot on and the classes each add something different to the game. I’m just hoping some of the other maps are a bit more linear.

 

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Crysis 2 – What does the lack of PS3 footage mean?

Crysis 2 is less than 2 months away from release and so far, only footage and screenshots from the Xbox 360 version has been released.

So what could this mean? If you cast your minds back to Red Dead Redemption you’ll remember that up until its release, the Xbox 360 version was the one chosen for display and when the comparisons inevitably happened once it hit the shelves, the PS3 version was shown to be slightly inferior, graphically speaking.

I think it’s a given that the PC version will blow the console versions away. I know it’s incredibly tiresome to praise the original Crysis’ graphics but it’s true, however it’s also unfair to compare the PC to a console. It’d be like comparing an iPad to a Kindle….

However it doesn’t seem likely that the PS3 version is inferior. In April last year Crytek admitted that it was “getting slightly more performance from PS3 compared to 360”. Similarly, in an interview with Gamastutra in June 2009, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli claimed that they had almost maxed out the PS3.

While no PS3 screenshots or footage have been released, footage of the Cryengine 3 has been displayed running on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC conveniently at the same time.

Here’s a screenshot from the demonstration, PC is the screen on the top, PS3 on the left and Xbox 360 on the right.

 

 

The PS3 version clearly shows superior lighting and slightly more detailed textures, particularly on the bricks, seemingly in line with the argument of the PS3 version being slightly superior.

If this is the case, and it’s entirely possible that by the time they’re released both versions look identical, then why would Crytek choose to demo the slightly (I can’t stress ‘slightly’ enough) inferior looking version? It’s the opposite of what game developers normally do. It could be out of loyalty to Microsoft, after all, the original Crysis did sell extremely well on PC.

I guess we’ll have to wait until late March to know for certain.

Crysis 2 in released March 22 in North America and March 25 in the EU

Amazon Kindles given to Booker Prize judges

Susan Hill, author of the classic horror novel The Woman in Black and one of the judges for this years Man Booker prize tweeted the following on Thursday:

“We are to be given Kindles for Booker judging so they won ‘t have to post us tons of real books”.

This seems like another nail in the coffin of rival eReaders since in this case they’re the almost official accessory to the competition. While it’s only one instance of the Kindle being given such priority, it somewhat mirrors what happened in the Blu-Ray vs HD DVD format war, when the odd studio or store gave priority to Blu-Ray and stopped selling the rival format, causing a chain effect of other companies eschewing the HD DVD format.

This, coupled with the news that the Kindle is Amazon’s best-selling item ever is good news for early adopters of the eReaders, guaranteeing that their purchase was worth it.

Is this the most pointless article ever?

Pocket-lint seems to be  scraping the barrel so much that they’ve reached soil with an article entitled: “Why do wires get tangled up? – Pocket-lint unravels the mystery”. That sound you can hear now is the collective sigh of relief from people all round the world who finally have an answer to possibly the most discussed question known to man.

It helpfully begins:

“We’ve all been there – you place your headphones delicately into your pocket, sometimes just for a minute while you pop into a shop, but when you go to retrieve them, they don’t look like your headphones anymore”.

Yeah this has happened to me a few times and I have to say that I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else; it’s arguable worse than accidentally letting your tea go cold or having hiccups. Is this article for real? It sounds like a Michael McIntyre routine.

However eventually the mystery is cracked and we find out:

“It seems that round-bodied cables all suffer from the tangling problem thanks to their aerodynamics and friction control (or lack thereof) making the cords rotate and tangle”.

Huzzah, so the answer to the question of ‘Why do wires get tangled up?’ is ‘because the cords rotate and tangle up’. Pocket-lint you’ve done it again!

Next week: Pocket-lint explains why objects fall to the floor when you drop them and investigates whether bears defecate in woodland areas.