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Archive for November 17th, 2008

Left 4 Dead Prerelease Preview

Posted by haunt506e on November 17, 2008

Left 4 Dead Prerelease PreviewZombie RushAre you a fan of post-apocalyptic zombie survival games? Do you enjoy first person cooperative shooters? Do you enjoy the though of combining these two questions into one? If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, and you’re a gamer, you will have no doubt heard of Left 4 Dead, Valve’s next big release.

The game revolves around 4 characters – Francis, Bill, Louis, and Zoey – who are stranded in either one of four locales. Your job as one of these characters is to make it to safety, with or without your team (trying to attempt the latter will result in almost immediate failure). At its core, Left 4 Dead emphasizes teamwork. If you get left behind, you will quickly get picked off by one of the game’s 5 zombie bosses, each requiring a team member’s help to defeat. On the way, in addition to fighting off hordes of fast, intelligent zombies, you’ll pick up health, ammunition, and various explosive items, as well as additional weapons. Each locale, also called a campaign, features 5 unique stages, or maps. These maps are loaded separately but are meant to be played one after the other.

Sounds cool right? Well, it gets even cooler. You might think that after beating the game’s 4 campaigns, which each take from 45-90 minutes to complete, depending on difficulty settings, the game is over. Well, thanks to Valve’s AI “Director,” each game is guaranteed to be different. Not only do zombies spawn at different places and attack at different times from different directions, each round features different weapon and health locations, and the Director will even change the sounds and lighting to fit the mood. Every game play experience is different. I’ve played the demo’s 2 maps (2/5 of a campaign) well over 10 different times, and I could still go back and play them some more. The point is, the AI “Director” ensures that no game is the same, and gives this game a ton of replay value.

Zombies in the Woods!Maybe that’s still not enough for you. Maybe you’re a multiplayer fan? Left 4 Dead’s got that too. In the Multiplayer Versus mode, 4 human survivor players face off against 4 human-controlled zombie characters in addition to the AI-controlled horde, diversifying the experience even more. It’s the same game as before, only this time the zombies will communicate and act together, setting up ambushes and traps in order to defeat the survivors. For those without live, split screen modes are available as well, with AI bots taking the place of the otherwise human survivors.

Valve also plans on releasing downloadable content packs in the form of new campaigns, characters, weapons, items, and boss zombies to its customers. The Left 4 Dead DLC will be, as far as I know, available for free for PC owners as soon as the DLC is released, but Valve has had some difficulty with Microsoft over releasing this same content free of charge on the Xbox 360. Whatever the case, I won’t mind paying $5.00-$10.00 on additional content for Left 4 Dead, especially when the game has such an incredibly high replay value.

Left 4 Dead comes out tomorrow, November 18th, in the United States and on Friday, November 21st, in Europe for the Xbox 360, PS3, and the PC. If you haven’t already preordered or reserved your copy, hit the stores quickly for your copy, this one’ll be big.

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Gears of War 2 Multiplayer Guide

Posted by haunt506e on November 17, 2008

Gears of War 2Gears of War 2 Multiplayer GuideGears of War 2 is a third person shooter characterized not only by its enormously gritty and gory hyper-violent game play, but also by the game mechanics that have made it into one of the best games of this year. The whole “get into cover or you’ll die” thing going on with Gears 2 works extremely well, and the cover system in Gears 2 has been put into a much greater light now than in the original Gears, thanks in part to the nerfing of the infamous Gnasher Shotgun.  

And so, Gears of War 2’s game play, while using theoretically the same formula as the original, plays much differently.  You may find it very frustrating in multiplayer to be chainsawed to death for the twentieth time after trying to shotgun rush the opposing team. Well, in short, a lot of things (such as shotgun rushing) don’t work in Gears 2 like they did in Gears 1.  This guide will serve as a way to bridge the gap and possibly help you become better prepared for your next multiplayer encounter in Gears of War 2.  A knowledge of common battlefield strategies, ie: flanking, taking cover, etc., is assumed.

In addition to various battlefield maneuvers, I’m assuming that you’ve played a first person or third person shooter before and are familiar with its basic concepts, controls, etc.  I won’t go into detail on map or level design, specific movements, etc., but rather on how to handle situations based on which weapon you find yourself carrying.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the Gears of War 2 Multiplayer Guide.  Feel free to comment on my guide and add your own tips to the mix.

Tactics:

  • Gears of War 2 is very different from the original.  Do not, under any circumstances, associate the game play of one game with the game play of the other.  They do look and feel the same, but the weapons fire differently in each game and after you have become accustomed to one version, you must completely change your play style to fit the other.
  • Cover: They give it to you for a reason.  Maps are set up in such a way that cover is always plentiful, and should be used for suppressing fire, flanking maneuvers, etc.  While you should be using cover for protection, that doesn’t mean sit there and unload clip after clip on the enemy.  Use cover to slowly work your way around the enemy’s main force, and move into closer range where the lancer and the shotgun are much more effective.  I’ll get into each weapon’s pros/cons later.
  • Rushing: Rushing in Gears 2 does not work, and should be avoided.  You can rush an enemy’s position if given enough covering fire or if a pathway opens up, but do not, I repeat, do not just rush the enemy that’s firing straight at you.  All weapons in the game exhibit some sense of stopping power, meaning as you run at an enemy who is firing at you, you will get pushed backwards, running much slower.
  • Communication: Teamwork is obviously essential to winning a match online in Gears of War 2.  Whether you’re coordinating an assault or organizing a strategic retreat, it is important that you talk to your teammates.  Even if you don’t know the people on your team, a simple, “Watch the left side,” or “Grenade!” will increase the longevity of your team and your chances of winning.
  • I could go on and on about different Gears of War 2 tactics, but these tactics will change depending on which weapon you are using, and I will go into more detail on each specific weapon next.

Weapon Tactics:

  • LancerLancer: The game’s standard issue assault rifle, the lancer soon becomes both the newbie and the veteran’s best friend.  It can lay down some heavy mid-range covering fire and functions almost better than the shotgun in most close range situations, and is all around a well balanced weapon.  Where it fails is at long range.  Keep that in mind, and you should be able to use the lancer to its full extent.  When using the lancer, your ultimate goal should be to close the distance between you and your target, where you can either chainsaw them to pieces or gun them down at close range, where the lancer excels.  Doing this actually isn’t that difficult.  By using cover to your advantage, and with the help of your team, you can easily flank an enemy’s position, get to the side of their cover where you can get some shots off, and just unload on your target.  If you’re getting rushed while holding the lancer, no need to panick, the stopping power from your gun will slow down the rusher, causing him to fall flat at your feet before he even becomes a threat.  Keep up the active reloads and the accuracy and you’ll be holding one of the most deadly weapons on the battlefield.
  • GnasherGnasher: Gears of War 2 has nerfed the traditional Gears of War shotgun, making it significantly less powerful and slower than the original weapon.  That doesn’t mean that the gun is worthless, however.  In most cases, the shotgun has more range than people think, and I know from personal experience that it can outgun a lancer at mid-range (I’m talking less than 10ft, just out of chainsaw range).  Keep it handy, and you can use it if you’re close enough to an enemy to deliver the killing blow, but maybe there is some cover in they way or it’s too dangerous to clear the distance between yourself and your target in order to chainsaw said target.  The gnasher is useful in these select circumstances, and, while it has potential, I don’t see it as an incredibly useful weapon.  It is always my first choice in Gears 2 to drop the shotgun for a different weapon, rather than the lancer, as I did in Gears of War 1.
  • Hammerburst: Like the Lancer, this gun is incredibly effective at mid-range combat.  However, it takes a bit more skill than the lancer, seeing as its a single shot weapon.  In addition, it does not feature a chainsaw.  In an out and out duel between Lancer and Hammerburst, in which both guns start firing at the same time, the Hammerburst will win, not only because it is more accurate, but also because it is more powerful, and consequently offers more stopping power. You use it in much the same way as the lancer, but it is better to stick to the mid-range to long-range when using this gun, as it does not feature a chainsaw and the only close-range capability of the weapon is the standard melee.  This tends to be my standard starting weapon, but I would not recommend it to players who are just getting a feel for the game, mainly because it does not have a chainsaw bayonet.
  • Snub PistolPistols: The pistols are not very effective by themselves, and I don’t recommend charging into a room using the pistol and the melee button. However, when used in conjunction with a shield, meat or boom, they can be devastating.  My personal favorite is the Gorgon, but each pistol has its pros and cons and fire differently, but overall they equal out in most respects.  The standard Snub pistol fires quickly, but its shots don’t do a whole lot of damage and its clip is somewhat small (it’ll also usually require two clips to down somebody).  Boltok pistols, also called revolvers, are very powerful pistols, but fire very slow and again, have a small clip size (you can kill somebody with less than one clip though).  The final pistol, the Gorgon pistol, is an automatic pistol that fires one clip at a time, emptying an entire clip before switching to the next one.  This pistol only has four clips, meaning it will run out after you squeeze the trigger four times.  In addition, it takes a long time to switch clips, meaning that you will have to wait about two seconds in between bursts.  However, it only takes about two well-aimed bursts to down an enemy using this pistol, even less if you’ve scored an active.
  • Frag GrenadesGrenades: Grenades are a little underpowered in Gears of War 2, but are still useful for flushing enemies out of cover or putting pressure on enemies who you might be flanking.  The idea behind the regular frag grenade is not necessarily to kill them outright, but to stun them and deal significant damage so that you can finish off your target with little difficulty.  With the Ink Grenade, the premise is almost exactly the same, but the Ink cloud tends to make enemies move more, and will give you a better chance at intercepting them or catching them offguard.  The new smoke/stun grenade is very unique in that it also knockdowns your enemy, making it one of the best grenades available.  This grenade can be used to rush “chainsawers,” “shotgunners,” or really anybody.  All grenades may be stuck to surfaces and will act as mines, but the only one that you should actually do this with is the frag grenade.
  • Flamethrower: If there is a flamethrower on the map you are playing on, pick it up.  Currently, this weapon is so unbalanced it isn’t even funny.  It will out-shoot any gun at mid-range, and while it’s range is limited, if you’re within say, 15 feet of a guy with a flamethrower, you’re pretty much dead.  As far as tactics go with this weapon, it functions like the shotgun.  Get in close, but not too close (watch for chainsaws).  The flamethrower’s only pitfall is that it has very poor stopping power.  This doesn’t usually matter since it kills your enemies so extremely fast, however, and it’s pure power will make up for any of its shortcomings.
  • LongshotLongshot: The game’s sniper rifle, the Longshot Rifle, is very effective when you’re good with it.  For beginners, I would use it mainly as a support weapon, using it to damage enemies from afar that your friendlies are currently engaging with in close or mid-range combat.  When you start getting better with this weapon, you’ll be getting head shots more often, making it one of the most dangerous weapons on the battlefield, even moreso than the Lancer.  In the right hands, a Longshot can make or break your team, and ensuring that your team maintains control of a sniper rifle is paramount to your success.  Unfortunately, the Longshot is terrible at close range (understandable), has a one shot clip, and is only effective when in the proper hands.  In addition, rushing with a Longshot is just…  stupid.
  • Boomshot: The Boomshot rocket launcher has been almost entirely redone, this time much less powerful, and fits better into the whole scheme of things.  The Boom is pretty unique in its uses, as it can only really be used if you have an open shot on your target (ie: you’re above your target or behind or to the side of your target).  Therefore, flanking maneuvers are very important if you are to use the Boom effectively.  I wouldn’t rely solely on the Boomshot in any situation, as its reload time is pretty slow and its damage, while powerful, is somewhat inconsistent, killing foes it should have only damaged and damaging foes it should have killed.  The Boom is definitely not high on my list of “good” weapons.
  • Torque BowTorque Bow:The Torque functions almost exactly like the Longshot, except the Torque, instead of a scope, uses a laser targeting system. Some people like this weapon better than the Longbow because while it is harder to use for most, if it hits it delivers an instant kill to the target, regardless of where on the target’s body it lands.  It sounds great, but, again, like the Longshot, accuracy with the Torque is achieved through practice, and this weapon, even moreso than the Longshot, only becomes useful when you become pretty well acquainted with how it works.  In addition, it is a little better at close range than the Longshot, seeing as you can back up while blind-firing the weapon with relative accuracy.  Other than that, both guns fire similarly and similar tactics should be used when handling either gun.  Just a note, if you’re using the Torque and there’s a known sniper in the area, be careful.  Snipers can pick off inexperienced Torques with relative ease, as the Torque has to expose his entire body to aim and fire the weapon.
  • Hammer of Dawn: I’ll be quite brief with the Hammer, because I’ve only seen it on one map, a map on which I’ve only actually used the weapon once: Jacinto.  Unfortunately, EPIC has brought the Hammer down to its knees.  I was expecting EPIC to bring the Hammer down a notch or two, but not all the way down to the floor on which it now lies, face down.  Not only is the Hammer a little less powerful, it also has an ammunition bar, that runs out extremely quickly.  So it’s pretty much the Hammer from Gears 1 with a time limit, totalling at about less than 10 seconds of continuous use.  It does have its uses though, while it lasts, namely bunker busting.  It can be used to flush enemies out of cover very quickly, killing stragglers instantly.  When used in conjuction with teammates’ Lancers, Longshots, Hammerbursts, and Torque Bows, the Hammer is a devastating support weapon. However, it just doesn’t last long enough nor does it appear in enough maps to be considered worthwhile.
  • MulcherMulcher: The Mulcher is a very unique weapon.  It’s extremely powerful, and can quickly mow down any advancing enemies or enemies who have carelessly stepped out too far into the open.  However, you are extremely vulnerable and immobile while using this weapon, making you a prime target for just about any mid to long-range gun.  For this reason, I label the Mulcher as a support gun.  It excels at laying down covering fire and at picking off the occasional bad guy who has strayed too far away from the team, but should not be used as a carry-around Lancer-like weapon.  Flanking maneuvers are easy to make against a Mulcher, and as a Mulcher Gunner, you need to keep this in mind (frag grenades work well to seal off flanking points).  Keep your teammates close when you’re carrying the Mulcher, and you should be fine.
  • Mortar: Mortars in most games are considered long-range support weapons, and the Mortar in Gears of War 2 is not acception.  Like the Mulcher, the Mortar makes its user highly immobile and vulnerable, even moreso than the Mulcher because in order to use the Mortar correctly, you must be somewhat distanced from the rest of the battle.  For this reason, enemies can pick off lone Mortar Gunners with extreme ease, so try to keep your position relatively secure when firing off Mortar shells.  Other than that, skill with the Mortar can only come with experience, as you must find out how long the trigger must be held in order to hit at certain distances, how to bring in timing into the equation, etc.  When used correctly, the Mortar is perhaps even more dangerous than the Mulcher, serving mainly as a bunker buster.

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