Category: Video Games


The typical zombie.

Image via Wikipedia

I have no idea why, but I can’t get that stupid game, “Blood Drive” out of my head.  I didn’t wind up trading it like I thought I would.  I thought that I would be able to get rid of it because it’s so awful, but I have a strange, inexplicable wish to go back and try my hand at it again.  There is a horrifying possibility that I will spend more time on it, getting to know it better and ::gasp:: unlocking some of the features that shouldn’t have to be unlocked.  Is it possible that this terrible game has some voodoo charm on me !?  Quite possible !  I will keep you posted.

Xbox 360 Core System with their peripherals.

Image via Wikipedia

I purchased “Blood Drive” for the XBOX 360 pretty much as soon as it came out.  (I might add that I spent $49 or so on this game.)  It was a fairly obvious choice for me – it was a zombie game.  When I went home and told my friends about it, they were horrified.  One particular friend even admitted to having it on his to-do list to tell me not to purchase the game.  I couldn’t figure out why, and I looked up some reviews of my own.  Without going into detail, the results were disappointing.

I’ve been playing it for a little while now (about an hour) and there are some obvious disadvantages with the game, as well as a few pluses.

In many ways, “Blood Drive” is a rip-off of the “Left 4 Dead” franchise.  This game features zombies that look and act uncannily like the Boomer, Hunter, Charger, and Tank.  The gameplay became monotonous rather quickly – instead of trying to find ways of effectively driving, I found it easier to hole up in an alleyway and drive back and forth until the timer ran out, crushing whatever happened to be under my bumper at the time.  When “Blood Drive” begins, there is absolutely no tutorial, and I died a few times until I looked up and tried to memorize the controls.  Even with the controls memorized, there is so much going on in the beginning that its hard to focus.  Zombies are attacking the car, the car is running over barrels and rolling, hordes are charging, and somehow I’m supposed to not only navigate successfully, but learn to fire a random harpoon weapon?  I think not.  Also, in order to get to the single player sections with different scenery and goals, I have to survive some kind of 5 minute challenge that I could’t find.  I can’t imagine the hours it would take me to get to the 5 minute mark.  The longest I lasted in the environment was 1:10:?? and it was difficult lasting that long.  Another big issue I have with the game is the sensitivity of the controls.  It would be wonderful to be able to hit more zombies, but often the game feels more like a driver ed simulation, with me passing by hordes of zombies just begging to be run down.  They’re even running after me with blood dribbling down their clothes, growling and snarling.

“Blood Drive” should have had a 2 player mode.  This game is perfect for multi-player, however you need someone else to drop the money on the game, hop on when you are playing, and agree to play with you.  If the designers had gone with a split-screen mode, it could have been a salvageable game.

After effectively tearing the game apart, I’d like to mention some of the pluses.  The addition of a pimp zombie was pretty funny and interesting, and the overall look of the zombies themselves were pretty interesting.  Each driver was laid out with a different car and personality.  There were 8 initial to choose from, and before you began the game you got to add extras to your car.  Think of them as care packages, that ranged from increased speed to increased durability.  They were meant to help with your chosen car’s weakness.  (It should be added that steering was a noted weakness for most cars in this DRIVING game.  Why is that?)  The ambulance was very difficult to drive, due to its center of gravity.  Cars that drove lower to the ground seemed marginally easier to drive.  The music style changed for each character, mirroring the personality of the driver as well.

I am relatively sure I will be trading the game in this afternoon for a measly $20.  I want to trade it in before it depreciates further.  Its an alright game, but I am not sure if I’m interested in spending the hours it will take to unlock content that should be available from the start.  The lack of information in the game booklet was also a severe letdown.  If I’ve learned anything from “Blood Drive”, it’s that a) there are some games you should rent rather than buying flat out b) don’t buy video games full price – or close to it and c) not everything zombie-based is exciting.  The idea for a zombie racing game was a great one, but major and unforgivable faults keep this game from being what it really could (and should) have been.

Left 4 Dead 2

Image via Wikipedia

“Left 4 Dead 2” follows four different survivors through a series of zombie infested maps.

The game was an overall improvement from Left 4 Dead (which in and of itself was still an awesome game!)  There are numerous notable changes for the better which include more staggered spacing of the infected.  Instead of running into a constant mob and then nothing, the mobs are well spaced enough so that there is no time to relax and wait for the next mob.

The special infected are bigger, better, and more badass as well.  Hunters, witches, boomers, and tanks all were re-done with more detail including (but not limited to) extra boils, more slime, and more detailed clothing.  New notable specials include the Jockey, who sits atop your character and rides them around while screeching, and my personal nemesis, the Spitter.  Spitters have disjointed jaws and are capable of covering several in-game feet of floor with an acidic puke that will quickly exacerbate the situation for yourself and the other survivors.  The best part ?  She spits it from afar.  Perhaps you can’t see her, but she can still drop you with one or two well-aimed spits.  Eesh.  Not to mention the hordes of other special infected, some of which wear armor and are harder to kill.  Oh and one last thing – there are clown zombies.  A whole carnival section filled to the brim with slavering clown zombies whose eyes glow.  I won’t spoil all the fun – but trust me – you’ll like the new ones !

The story itself is more cohesive within the campaigns.  Rather than just running around blasting zombies to bits, you are following a coordinated escape pattern from area to area.  Don’t fear – the story doesn’t get in the way of mindless blasting, if that’s something you prefer.  The locales are creepier with more special effects including fog, wind and driving rain as well as numerous hiding places for zombies and specials.  The effects add a touch of realism to the video game, as well as add to the unpredictability of the game.  It seems that every time you play, its a different game.

Whether or not you were a fan of the original “Left 4 Dead” you need this game.  I play it on my computer because I’m terrible at first person shooters on a console, but regardless of your choice of play you will have countless hours of enjoyment from “Left 4 Dead 2”.  One more bit of advice – play it in the dark.  It’ll scare you witless.

Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead

Image by csullens via Flickr (I have no idea why there is a cat in the photo, but it's the only one I can find on wordpress to use.)

I have played this game on both the XBOX 360 Slim and the Computer.

This game is a first-person shooter that invites players to play as one of four survivors in a variety of modes.  It features hand-held weapons as well as guns and bombs.  There are also special zombies to encounter.  My personal nemesis is the Witch.  She sits and wails, and when you stumble on her she comes at you clawing with everything she’s got.  Basically if you startle her, you better be wielding a chainsaw, if not, you’re toast.  I’d recommend dodging her, unless you don’t mind taking a heap of damage after a botched attempt to kill her.

Other special infected include Boomers – big, fat zombies that spit on you in order to attract more zombies.  If you get too close and blow one up, you likewise are covered in bile / vomit and can expect a storm of zombies.  Another personal favorite that seems to favor tearing me apart are the too-agile hunters.  They are hoodie-clad hooligans that leap from buildings after you.  When caught, they too tear you to pieces.

The game also features four playable maps.  If you are working with a competent group of friends, you can finish each map in about an hour, give or take a little.  The maps are “No Mercy”, “Dead Air”, “Blood Harvest”, and “Crash Course”.  If you are like me, and you get lost easy, you can get the AI to guide you while you are playing solo.  The maps also contain “Safe Houses” which serve as way points in campaigns.  In Safe Houses you can get more ammunition for your weapons, you can choose from a variety of other weapons, and you can use first aid kits to heal yourself and your companions.

While I enjoy playing Left 4 Dead on the XBOX, I find I’m a better shot when playing it on my computer.  That’s just personal preference.  As far as I can tell, it is just as intuitive on the XBOX as it is on the computer.  Overall, it’s a great game to play in the dark.  The maps are creepy and very intense.  The maps are populated with realistic buildings and car crashes. Another added pleasure are the car traps.  Vehicles with blinking red lights signal a killing horde of zombies if you happen to jump on them or shoot them – so be careful !  At the end of each campaign you are given various player stats which include but are not limited to number of infected killed, how much damage you have done to a particular special infected, how many friendly fire incidents, and various other elements.  These add a competitive edge to the game when playing with friends.

Since the second game is now available, it is worth noting that time has not diminished the playability of this game.  While it is true that the new game brings marked improvement in some areas, the old game is in no way rendered obsolete.  In fact, if you are unsure about this franchise, then I recommend purchasing the first game as an introduction.  If however, you enjoy first person shooters, or zombie games of any kind, this is certainly worth playing.

Pros:

  • Intense atmosphere – realistic
  • Interesting mix of special infected and regular infected makes each gaming experience unique
  • Well conceived characters – fun to play !
  • You don’t get killed from zombie bites – and you can be cured by first aid kits
  • Plenty of weapons to choose from and wield
  • Little story line and not very many cut scenes maximizes zombie killing time
  • Playable for console and computer

Cons:

  • Only 4 maps to choose from (I’m nitpicking – but there really isn’t much fault with the game)
  • I would have liked more variation in the appearance of the regular infected