I weep for those down under

· by Steve · Read in about 4 min · (694 Words)

Aussie gamers don’t half get a raw deal. We bitch here in Europe because of delayed releases (less of a problem these days), and more expensive games & hardware (the typical exchange rate is 1.2 dollars to the pound, which I can’t remember us ever getting close to), but compared to Oz, we’re laughing. Not only do games take ages to appear down there sometimes, they’re often ridiculously priced and mutilated by censorship. The latest example is what Valve had to do to Left 4 Dead 2 to make it acceptable to the censors.

I can sort of understand the gore reduction - the amount of blood and bits of bone and sinew flying about in the sequel was quite a surprise compared to L4D1, and I’m not sure it really adds to the game except for perhaps being more true to the zombie movie tradition. Things that do have a serious effect though include:

  1. No riot cop zombie. I guess the Oz authorities didn’t like you shooting the police, even if technically they aren’t exactly suitable for active duty anymore, on account of the fact that they’re trying to eat the brains of law-abiding citizens, which I’m pretty sure is a disciplinary issue. The ‘uncommon infected’ are good for mixing things up a bit and I liked this one.
  2. Bodies fade away quickly. This is awful - when we played L4D1 on split-screen we were struck by how quickly the bodies disappeared (for perfomance reasons) compared to the PC and it really saps the realism. In L4D2 after you’ve survived an attack it’s a source of pride to see the area littered with vanquished zombies as a testament to your will to live. Looking around and seeing a bare street just undermines the experience. I don’t know why they thought they needed to do this, especially as the gore is already turned down so it’s not as if you can marvel at the hideous new damage models Valve has implemented.
  3. No burning. Oh come on - so now you’re not allowed to set zombies on fire? They still die if they’re in the fire, they just don’t catch on fire themselves. Right.

I fail to see what the Aussie censors are trying to achieve here. Are zombie films not allowed in Australia either? Because essentially L4D2 is just a better sim of that experience. Here’s the comparison:

About the L4D2 demo which we got a few days ago (because we pre-ordered) - it’s a lot of fun. The demo isn’t as creepy as L4D1 because it’s in daylight, and in a developed setting so it’s less about peering into the dark and shooting trees that you’re sure twitched, and more about just trying to hold off rampaging hordes. Different L4D1 levels had different feels so I’m hoping the night-time campaigns will have more of the suspense element; in particular I’m sure the swamp level will be pretty nerve-wracking. The demo was much more of an arcade shooting romp than a suspenseful survival experience, I’m just hoping that Valve haven’t caved in to the vocal people that just play bombastic Versus and keep more of the tense & pressing atmosphere in the other levels for us co-op players.

That said, the new special infected were great to mix things up, as are the uncommons, melee weapons, new ranged weapons and buff variants like the adrenaline. Instead of just going Boomer-Smoker-Hunter-Smoker-Hunter-WITCH!!-Boomer-Hunter-Smoker-Boomer-TANK!!, which started to get repetetive after a while (but still fun), you get a bit more variety. The Charger in particular is great for instilling panic, smashing through a group if you don’t see him quick enough and dispersing you from your defensive huddle, with one unlucky person ending up being smooshed into the dirt. He’s not that tough, but boy he runs fast.

I liked the idea of Realism mode, where you can no longer see hinting outlines of team mates / objects to assist you, and that if you die, there’s no coming back unless another team member has a defibrilator unit (nice idea). Puts a new spin on the harder modes! Anyway, should be fun when it’s released on November 17th.