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Old 02-20-2010, 01:15 PM   #1
ChadB
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Post Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Chaos and Camaraderie in Creole Country

HIGH The unconventional character development methods.

Low The AI pales in comparison to playing with friends. Make sure some friends own the game unless you want to spend your time in the Deep South with a bunch of foul-mouthed pre-teens.

WTF Playing Versus with friends as the Jockey and bounding onto the head of an unsuspecting straggler for a round of head-humping greatness.


On November 17, 2008 Valve Corporation released their highly anticipated cooperative first-person shooter Left 4 Dead to universal praise. Myself and many other gamers all salivated over the sliver of gameplay we had been given a week prior on November 11, and a week was all that was needed for the gaming community to sprint like the infected they had endlessly mowed down to their nearest retailer when the full game was eventually released. The game sparked its own internet jokes, redefined co-op gameplay, and even spawned its own pornographic parody. Raunchy zombie porn aside, Left 4 Dead succeeded in doing something that Valve never seemed to put emphasis on before. The Half-Life series and Portal are some of my favorite games of all time and I have an immense respect for Valve as a company as they always seem to satisfy. That being said both contained the infamous silent protagonist. Many argue that when a game features a silent protagonist it allows the player to feel more as if they themselves are in the shoes of the scientist-turned rebellion leader or lab rat in question, I’m not as big of a fan of the silence. However, I will admit that Half-Life and Portal took the silent protagonist and made it work to their advantage (even cracking jokes about it sometimes, with some NPCs referring to Gordon Freeman as a “man of few words”), but Left 4 Dead did something different altogether. Through simple chatter alone, Louis, Bill, Francis, and Zoey all made an impression on me that I didn’t know four multiplayer avatars could.

Left 4 Dead 2 expands even greater upon this interaction between survivors that, while subtle, is so important. As the game begins it is immediately apparent that this group is much more talkative and we get all the more character development because of it. This in itself is something that Valve are doing that very few other groups have the guts to do; plot progression by way of subtle conversation. We get plenty of cut scenes in cinematic adventures like God of War or Dante’s Inferno, we get audiotapes in open world adventures like BioShock or Batman: Arkham Asylum, but no one else is capitalizing on this simple and original formula that Valve seem to have stumbled upon. Nick is the sly con man, Ellis is the lovable hick, Rochelle is the hard nosed reporter, and Coach is, well, the coach. The player(s) acts the part of one or more of these characters as they travel across the Deep South in search of salvation from the infection. You really get to know these characters after playing through five campaigns of zombie mayhem, and while it may not be a story based game, Left 4 Dead 2 definitely has a solid plot beneath it.

In said five campaigns of zombie mayhem players will find that Valve have improved on pretty much everything they possibly could have. New special infected add variety, the campaigns are all original and interesting (especially Hard Rain), and gone are the days of finales consisting of nothing but defense while the survivors await their salvation. New styles of finales now include: gas can gathering, bridge crossing, and more of that classic defense, because that hasn't lost its appeal quite yet. However, the different campaigns just wouldn’t be the same were it not for the game’s Deep South setting, which has more flavor than Cajun cuisine (and way more than the first game’s locale for that matter). The wide range of Louisianian settings help the player feel as if they really are in the shoes of one of the survivors, trying frantically to escape their infected pursuers across the entire state. Eerie swamp blues drifts in the background as the survivors travel through swamplands, a tropical storm, a theme park, the rural South, and New Orleans itself. Not only does this make the game feel more like an adventure, but it also adds to the overall originality of the game. Heavy metal vocalist, author, and entrepreneur Glenn Danzig once stated that Louisianian/New Orleanian culture was something “that nobody’s ever done a good movie on [...] especially incorporating voodoo into it, you know?” Well there might not be any voodoo, but Left 4 Dead 2 certainly succeeds in being one of few extremely well-done horror fiction productions to take place in The Bayou State.

On the online multiplayer mode side of things we have the brand new Scavenge game which is based on the finale for the Dead Center campaign and requires the survivors to fill a generator with gas that is stored in cans across the map. This mode and versus are both very enjoyable experiences thanks in part to the new infected at your disposal. New to the roster are The Jockey, The Spitter, and The Charger, and all are a blast to play as or against (maybe not so much when you are getting your skull humped by The Jockey).

New infected, guns, bombs, health boosts, and melee weapons are all very welcome additions to the Left 4 Dead series, but that is only a part of what makes it great. Valve know how to incorporate the exact amount of humor (the inclusion of Jonathon Coulton's Still Alive and Re: Your Brains), seriousness, and clichés (a good portion of the first campaign takes place inside of a mall) in a game to make it all flow seamlessly. Left 4 Dead 2 can hold its head high in pride knowing that no other game is quite like it…except for maybe its predecessor.

9/10


Disclosures: This game was obtained via [publisher] and reviewed on the [Xbox 360]. Approximately 5 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 0 times, since there is no way to "complete" Left 4 Dead 2) and 15 hours of play to multiplayer modes.


Parents: Some pretty intense gore and violence, along with some vulgarity here and there.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Full captions can be enabled in the options menu.

Last edited by ChadB; 02-25-2010 at 12:23 AM. Reason: Following advice
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Old 02-20-2010, 11:03 PM   #2
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Great review Chad!
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Old 02-21-2010, 02:14 PM   #3
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

"it may not be a story based game, Left 4 Dead 2 definitely has a solid plot beneath it."

I would talk about the plot some instead of just saying it's solid and moving on

"Through simple chatter alone, Louis, Bill, Francis, and Zoey all made an impression on me that I didn’t know four multiplayer avatars could."

I would talk a little about the characters and what about them left an impression on you.

"The wide range of Louisianian settings help the player feel as if they really are in the shoes of one of the survivors"

I would explain a little more.

"Valve know how to incorporate the exact amount of humor, seriousness, and clichés in a game to make it all flow seamlessly."

what cliches and humor are you refering to? there wasn't anything about them in the rest of your review.

I also have a problem with your entire second paragraph. Delivering dialog through subtle conversations is nothing new as you suggest; infact, it's common.

other than what I've pointed out, I like the review. I wouldn't have went though the trouble of writing all this if I didn't.
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Old 02-21-2010, 04:02 PM   #4
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by coyls3 View Post
I also have a problem with your entire second paragraph. Delivering dialog through subtle conversations is nothing new as you suggest; infact, it's common.
Delivering dialog through subtle conversation is nothing new, that is correct. However, I am stating that no other game is using this as its sole method of character development. Mass Effect has the elevator scenes, but along with that are tons of side-quests and main story missions that build the characters, Left 4 Dead 2 doesn't have this.

Thank you for your feedback, I will look into working on the things you suggested.
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:09 PM   #5
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

more paragraphs!

ChadB, i feel your writing skills need improvement to be at the standard required for a videogame review.

i'd suggest reading more books, understanding and learning the reviewing style of the writers at this site and volunteering to write articles for your local paper, school magazine/yearbook, etc. good luck.
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:27 PM   #6
ChadB
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bai View Post
more paragraphs!

ChadB, i feel your writing skills need improvement to be at the standard required for a videogame review.

i'd suggest reading more books, understanding and learning the reviewing style of the writers at this site and volunteering to write articles for your local paper, school magazine/yearbook, etc. good luck.
I'm interested in hearing more feedback pertaining to the review itself. What was it that turned you off?

I'm an avid reader and have worked as a game journalist since late 2008, so I'm not sure how to respond to the second paragraph.

Thank you.
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:52 AM   #7
coyls3
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bai View Post
more paragraphs!

ChadB, i feel your writing skills need improvement to be at the standard required for a videogame review.

i'd suggest reading more books, understanding and learning the reviewing style of the writers at this site and volunteering to write articles for your local paper, school magazine/yearbook, etc. good luck.
actually, this forum is a great place do develop the skills needed, as long as people listen to the feedback and stick with it.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:06 PM   #8
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

I did some revision and added examples to sections where I might have been a bit too vague. Let me know what you think.
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Old 02-24-2010, 10:16 PM   #9
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChadB View Post
I'm interested in hearing more feedback pertaining to the review itself. What was it that turned you off?

I'm an avid reader and have worked as a game journalist since late 2008, so I'm not sure how to respond to the second paragraph.

Thank you.
please don't be put off my this - but i don't feel there is anything in your review that hasn't already been said somewhere else by other writers and with greater flair and precision.

http://www.metacritic.com/games/plat...360/left4dead2

there are more than 20 reviews in that list. as a writer, how are you going to make yourself stand out from the crowd?

to do that you need 1. original, interesting thoughts about the game and 2. polished, descriptive writing.

no one can tell you how to do 1. but in terms of 2., i'd suggest working on your expression.

i agree with most of what coyls3 said. you said the game "definitely has a solid plot beneath it" but you didn't describe it. where is the "deep south"? (could you name the city). what is cliched about a level inside a mall?

"In said five campaigns of zombie mayhem players will find that Valve have improved on pretty much everything they possibly could have. New special infected add variety, the campaigns are all original and interesting (especially Hard Rain), and gone are the days of finales consisting of nothing but defense while the survivors await their salvation. New styles of finales now include: gas can gathering, bridge crossing, and more of that classic defense, because that hasn't lost its appeal quite yet."

i have no idea what you're trying to say. what is "defense" what is gas can gathering? what is "new special infected add variety"? and what did valve improve upon? why are the campaigns original? - sounds like standard FPS stuff to me.

in other places, you overdo the descriptions, like when you describe the deep south or the parallels to half-life.

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

i've recommended this article a few times now - i've found it really helps a writer sharpen up. i'd suggest taking a look.
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Old 02-24-2010, 11:38 PM   #10
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bai View Post
please don't be put off my this - but i don't feel there is anything in your review that hasn't already been said somewhere else by other writers and with greater flair and precision.

http://www.metacritic.com/games/plat...360/left4dead2

there are more than 20 reviews in that list. as a writer, how are you going to make yourself stand out from the crowd?
This isn't meant to sound conceited, so if it comes across that way I'm sorry. I took the time to read approx. 10 of the reviews from the list, and not one of them spoke about the character development the way I did in my review. If there was any mention of the characters at all it was very minor, except for maybe one site that went into more detail than the rest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bai View Post
where is the "deep south"? (could you name the city). what is cliched about a level inside a mall?
Deep South: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...Deep_South.png

Survivors trapped in malls has been a horror movie stereotype for years, I'll refrain from going into explicit detail.

It is my personal belief that, as a reviewer, I shouldn't have to hold the hand of the reader through every cultural reference made in the review. If you referenced communism in a review would you spend the next paragraph explaining what communism was? I wouldn't. It would throw the writing off-course, the same way this review would've been had I stopped in the middle of it to explain why malls are a horror cliche or what states the Deep South is comprised of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bai View Post
why are the campaigns original? - sounds like standard FPS stuff to me.

in other places, you overdo the descriptions, like when you describe the deep south or the parallels to half-life.
Now I'm a little confused. Didn't you state earlier that me not explaining the Deep South was something you didn't like? I spend the better part of a paragraph explaining the game's setting and how it adds to the originality of things. Did I over describe it, or did I not talk about it enough? I'm getting mixed messages here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bai View Post
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

i've recommended this article a few times now - i've found it really helps a writer sharpen up. i'd suggest taking a look.
Thank you for the recommendation. I recently read 1984 and now consider it one of my all-time favorites, so I hold Orwell's name in high regard.
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:10 PM   #11
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

look mate, the point of these forums are, to paraphrase chi, to take a community-based approach to game criticism. this means readers posting reviews and other readers commenting on them. it's all voluntary and a little bit chaotic.

while i respect the time you have taken to write your review, you should also respect the time it has taken for others to read your review and give advice freely. you should also understand that, as a community-based, voluntary effort, we may not necessarily be on the same page. you asked for feedback and i gave you some. but i'm not here to debate journalistic/editorial standards, whether your review was original enough, how evident it is to the wider readership that people trapped in malls is a common horror movie stereotype, or whether the average non-american web user would know where the deep south is - these are matters for the gamecritics editors like chi, brad, etc.

nor am i here to convince you of the validity of my opinion. you asked for feedback and i provided it. my suggestion is you take on board what you feel is useful, discard the what you feel is wrong or irrelevant, and through all of that, keep writing. but i have no interest in doing a point-by-point analysis of my posts i'm afraid.

Last edited by Bai; 02-28-2010 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:39 PM   #12
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Left 4 Dead 2

It was never my intention to show any signs of disrespect or misunderstanding towards you or the way the site operates. I have absolutely no problem with the fact that you'd rather not discuss what makes a review good and what does not, it is simply something I enjoy doing. I believe that humans, in any situation, benefit most from challenging each other's viewpoints.

I also sense that you may feel I was disregarding your opinion, again I apologize if that is the case. I challenged your opinions, not at all because I didn't respect them, but because I felt that the following discussion would be very beneficial to both of us. I do respect the opinions of anyone who takes the time to criticize my work, and have made sure that I thank you all at the end of every reply I post.

I have no ire towards you, and it is completely understandable if you don't want to engage in lengthy discussions on review ethic. Thank you for your time, and for the Orwell essay. I'm sure it will help me a great deal.
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