15 February 2010

Left 4 Dead - Xbox 360

Zombies, zombies, zombies. Everywhere you look these days you’re almost guaranteed to find something zombie related. People fear that one day there will be a zombie apocalypse where we’ll find ourselves standing together, whether in a mall or local gun shop, and fending for our lives in hopes of a rescue. For years, movies have dramatized our demise by zombies with fun, no brainer action flicks but it wasn’t until Left 4 Dead on Xbox 360 did I realize how much fun it would really be if it did happen.
Left 4 Dead is basically every climatic moment of all your favorite zombie movies rolled into one. You and three other teammates are stranded in four different scenarios and have to band together to make it to the “finale” and escape the zombie ridden escapade. Left 4 Dead is really the first game for me that really embodies survival; and when I say survive I mean teamwork. If you don’t work together as a team then you might as well forget about getting to the chopper. But with every game, there is a twist. You may struggle together, heal each other, even defend your friend from the zombie horde but then it happens: How will you act when you are running to the boat and your friend goes down? Will you attempt to rescue him and put yourself in jeopardy? (Think of everything you’ve been through together.) Or do you selfishly turn away and run saving your own life?
This is what makes Left 4 Dead so genius. For approximately an hour, you and your buddies have been blasting zombies into next week on your journey for survival in hopes of a rescue. The next thing you know you are holed up inside an old farmhouse, cornered in a bathroom, low on ammo and finally the rescue vehicle pulls up. Then it’s decided. Go! Everyone makes a break for it. Jumping out windows, down broken stairs, covering as much ground as possible. Who will survive?.
I have spent countless hours with my friends blasting zombies for pure fun while wondering along the way “will I make it?” It’s the concept that makes this game one of the best I have ever played. You really care about your teammates when you’re playing and if one goes down, you make sure to get them back up. Left 4 Dead may not look like that pretty shiny gem but it’s so much more than eye candy. You won’t find graphics like a Gears of War or Modern Warfare but it doesn’t have to be. The gameplay brings this platinum title to glory. But the best thing about this game is that fact that if you don’t survive; you had a heck of a ride getting there and you can’t wait to do it all over again. That is what makes this game great. The replay value is endless.
In my personal opinion, Left 4 Dead is the greatest survival/teamwork game ever made. Strong words but I’ll let the game do the talking for me. If you haven’t played Left 4 Dead then I highly recommend you get yourself a copy. Even if you don’t have any friends to play with you’ll have no problem hooking up with three strangers and trying your luck at survival. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Four strangers banding together, fighting for survival. Wonder where they got that idea from? Join the fight against the zombie apocalypse. It’ll be the most fun you’ll ever have fighting for your life.
By Stephen O'Blenis

Mechassault – Xbox

`"It's like the best arcade game you've ever played."
Those words of praise came from the man who would one day marry my oldest niece. He's a photographer, a gamer, and a hell of good guy all around. He's the kind of guy whose recommendations you take to heart.
And his last name is Champion. So he's got that going for him. Which is nice.
Without his recommendation I may have never picked up Mechassault. I had been burned by bad mech games before. I've found them either too complicated or almost unplayable.
Mechassault is simple, to be sure, but it's one of those games that is nearly impossible to put down once you get into it. I found myself thinking about this game all the time, planning my strategy for my return to the planet where me and my colleagues crash landed and encountered the Word of Blake cult.
Mechassault boils down the awesome power of huge mechs to a twitchy shooter that is like Halo in its simplicity. Smooth controls make it so your mech always does what you want it to do. Changing weapons is easier than blinking your eyes. Defensive maneuvers – such as jumpjets and cloaking – are useful and intuitive. And finding your way around the world is easy.
All this would mean nothing if you didn't have a cool world to tool around in and some decent enemies.
No problems there.
Everything in this world is destructible. A lot of games make that claim, but Mech Assault does it so well that you'll find yourself hanging back in some stages just so you can level entire cities. The enemies – from lowly grunts and tanks to towering mechs – are just challenging enough to keep you coming back. (And when you manage to kill those mechs, the explosion and sound effects that accompany the accomplishment are fantastic.) Being an original Xbox game means the graphics are excellent - they still hold up well.
When the game came out I didn't have Xbox Live, so I missed out on the thrills of playing this game online. With those servers shutting down any day now, I know it was not meant to be.
Maybe I'll get lucky in the future, because there are two games from the original Xbox that absolutely demand sequels. Crimson Skies is one of them – this is the other.
By Victor Paul Alvarez