Monday, May 9, 2011

the valve is not a lie

In the mood to do a post on one of my favourite game developers - Valve.

I am a big Valve and BioWare fangirl because they cover two of my favourite gaming genres (first person shooters and roleplaying games, respectively) almost flawlessly. One of the things I admire about Valve is how they well cater to their fanbase. Without their understanding that the player community is of optimal importance, games like Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike (both 1.6 and Source) would not still be going as strong as they are today, despite their both being out for several years (which is a loooong time in game-world).

Now, I'm not a fan of all the manic updates that Valve has been releasing for TF2 recently, especially the added b*tch weapons (that a 7 year old could kill you several times with), the new TF2 store requiring real money, and the mindless hat craze that they've been on. This may be because I'm probably of the last of the old schoolers. I got the game about two years ago, which was still well after its release, but also awhile before these aforementioned addendums. Almost immediately upon purchase (which came after playing during a free weekend promotion) I was invited into a clan (we all know why) where I was taught by some of the best on how to play the game in its purest, most awesome form. That being said, while the recent changes bug me 'cause I believe they take away from the game and in players developing their skills with the original (and BEST) weapons, I do understand the reasoning behind it all. Like I said, TF2 has been out for several years, and I'm sure that the sales numbers are not increasing much since its initial hype, so in order to sustain the community and pique the interests of new gamers ... as well as to, well, pay the developers who will be in charge of doing this, such additions are almost necessary ... and, to be honest, I'd rather they did this instead of just releasing a new Team Fortress game every year to (unfairly) hoard money from players.

*cough cough*

Since getting TF2 I've been a part of two clans, logged around 500 hours of game play, and added a bunch of Steam friends, many of whom I still talk to and play with often. It's a wonderful game that quickly became my #2 favourite. But that still leaves room for the number one spot ... which, to nobody's surprise, probably ...

... is Left 4 Dead. Helloooo, this is the girl who once dressed up as Zoey for Halloween.

Now, my loyalty to L4D will probably never cease. I mean, it's what pretty much got me into gaming. I was visiting a friend at another school for the weekend and one night she said to me, "Hey, [another friend] and I are going to watch the latest Grey's Anatomy episode." When I said I wasn't really interested in doing that, she shrugged and said, "well, we're watching it. I guess you could watch Dave play a game instead." For lack of a better idea, I said sure. And of course, what game was he playing? Only an awesome one about four survivors trying to get through a city (or woods, or airport, or farmland) of infected in hopes of being rescued. I remember watching in fascination as he shot his way past special zombies that would pounce on him or slowly growl louder just before they slashing and chasing after him, and I knew I had to try it when I get home. And the rest, as they say, is history.

First game status aside, I think it's just a really really well-made product that pretty much anyone would enjoy, even now. This is why I was so mad (still am, really) at the fact that Valve, my beloved Valve, decided to release Left 4 Dead 2 not just a year after the release of the first game, effectively polarizing the L4D community (well, stripping L4D OF its community, really) and gipping players of the free DLC they were promised and instead repackaging it all into a new game for the price of $50. Since so much of the original L4D's appeal was the player community, being a four-player co-operative team game, when you're left not a year later with about six online games available to play at any given night filled with mostly stoners and prepubescent douches, and you're like me, you get a bit upset. But even now I still play it instead of the sequel, despite everyone saying "WHAT? Why don't you play L4D2 instead, it's better!"

Is this really a question?

While L4D2 is still a decent game, it lacks the likable characters and apocalyptic mood/story that the original had, and since plot is pretty important to me in terms of making a good game, it's where I ultimately decided to take a general pass on it. I got it later on when it was on sale for half the price, and still play it occasionally when I'm REALLY feeling like using a Magnum pistol (the only good thing about it), but for the most part, L4D1 does the trick just fine. It's just annoying that it's been a year and half since L4D2 has been released and it's getting the regular updates that the first game SHOULD have been getting and ... blagh!

I realize how confusing it may be to have just finished saying that Valve DOESN'T nickel and dime its player community with unnecessary sequel games and then go into how redundant and unfair it was to release L4D2, but ... what can I say? C'est la vie.

In terms of other games though, Valve still doesn't disappoint. While I'm not the biggest fan of Half-Life 2, I know many many people who adore it and count it as one of the best games they've ever played ... and, I mean, I can see where they're coming from. It seems like a really pretty awesome game. The story just doesn't do much for me. Not that it's bad or dull ... it's just not my thing. And if I'm not interested in the story, like I said, I normally lose interest in playing very fast. But, I will say, if any other developer had tried peddling the Half-Life 2 story to me I probably wouldn't even have gone past 10 mins, if even bothering to give it a shot, which I think says volumes about how Valve can make even the most unappealing story [to me] make me reserve judgment and stick with it for as long as it did (5.3 hours on record).

Same goes for Portal, which I, again, would not have ever tried if I didn't have faith in Valve's abilities. Talk about a bizarre game concept. But it's turned out to be incredibly and surprisingly enjoyable and I recommend it to everybody - I mean actually everybody. Anyone would really have fun playing it. Except the ones who are dead, but there's no use crying over every mistake.

(If you haven't played the game, get it now so you can join us cool kids and understand the reference.)

Anywayyyyyy shoot. I didn't even get to talking about CS:S! Not that it matters, since I don't play it very much, but several friends do (as well as CS 1.6) . It's really similar to TF2's gameplay but still a bit harder for me to adjust to because of the limited range of weapons/characterizations ... no double-jumping and rocket launchers makes Gina a grumpy girl.

But I think I've blabbed on long enough. End nerdy post of the day.

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