Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Zombie Therapy

Zombie movie, meet zombie game

After this weekend I made my shrink earn his paycheck. I also found out that slaughtering zombies for three hours with friends does wonders for your mood.

Over Christmas I was able to save some money. When I was back home I didn't have to buy groceries, pay for gas, or pay for things like bowling and movies because it was also my birthday. I was also on paid time-off. This meant I got to sit around and do jack squat for two weeks, not having to spend a cent and getting paid for it the whole time. I'm actually using a large chunk of what I "earned" over the break to pay credit card bills and rent and be a responsible human being. I'm using a large chunk of what's left after paying bills to buy video games and other frivolous things. I figure the economy needs my help.

A few months back I realized that I can now afford to buy video games. During college I was usually working just enough to pay rent and often living off credit cards so buying things like games was something I avoided. (Ironically I was also supposed to be reviewing them for a website during that same time; not being able to afford the games makes them very hard to review.) I've started buying games again -- not any and all games, but games that I legitimately want and would enjoy. Bioshock, Spore, and Fallout 3 have been among my recent purchases. Last week I bought Left 4 Dead. I don't regret it one bit.

Teamwork is necessary to survive

Valve -- the company behind the now iconic Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and Team Fortress series' -- made Left 4 Dead to be a zombie apocalypse movie. And it really is. It's a four-player game where each person plays a survivor fighting off hordes and hordes of zombies. You have to stick together to stay alive because on your own you can't fight off everything, you can't free yourself when you get trapped, and there's no way you could have enough ammo to last through the campaigns. The game even has AI "directors" that control enemy placement and movement so that no play through is the same as another -- enemies will be in different places based on how you're playing and the stats of each character (health, ammo, etc). Music is also controlled by an

Everyone loves B zombie films

AI system so that each person's music is unique to their experience -- lots of health and ammunition with a zombie horde coming at you? You'll probably have some powerful music playing. Almost dead with a hunter stalking you? The music will be tense and fast paced. It's quite brilliant. They even have grain effects to give it a more authentic B-movie feel.

You can also have other human players -- people not in your party -- play as the zombies. This makes it rather interesting.

Playing with friends -- having a mic and headset so you can actually talk to each other, plan tactics, ask for help -- is more fun than I had ever guessed. You really learn to work together. As a friend put it, "This is basically the perfect game for us: lots and lots of zombies to kill and all you have to do is help each other survive." It's everything we've loved in movies like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead and all those other movies that have the words "of the Dead" in them -- kill zombies and stay alive.

Zombies? Bring 'em on

No "kill 50 hunters" type missions. No "find the secret map to the treasure of Juan Valdez." Just zombies. And all you need to do is stay alive long enough to get out of there.

I plan on playing it with friends as often as I can.

1 comment:

Mark A. said...

i like killing zombies. if i ever meet my english teacher from my jr year of high school again, she's going to get it!