I spend a lot of time regretting things. Not super-cool consequential things like bungee jumping or quitting my job or going to France for a year or throwing off societal conventions. Dull, awkward, English stuff like making stupids in public or losing good friends. But I am going to write this article, regret be damned. Left-brain, shut the fuck up for a minute. I want to say something.
I came to Destructoid because of Anthony. This article was my introduction to 3 years of immersion in a gaming culture that has immeasurably changed my life. In those 3 years, Anthony has managed to put into words all the things I believe about gaming culture, game design and game writing in a way that I cannot, and that is so indescribably satisfying. Here’s a picture of a duckling I stole from deviantArt to leaven the tone of the article.
With the exception of the Braid HAWP (seriously, what the fuck were you thinking), every article, every video and every podcast that Anthony has made or been involved with I have enjoyed, and in some cases, been genuinely provoked into thinking about or considering the shit that I play for more than 10 seconds. I’ve improved my standards, I’ve started playing indie games and started donating to indie developers because of his words. Half my film collection I own on his recommendation. I am still trying to find a copy of Surf Nazis Must Die.
Podtoid has also been a fucking revelation. I could have 2 hours of the cast bullshitting about their week and be happy. I cannot explain the effect that the show has had, but it suffices to say that the dynamic the show has had for the past year or thereabouts has made me a happy little boy every week, and that's good enough.
Now, as you may have noticed, Anthony isn’t dead, so this will probably continue. If he’s working on a game, chances are that I will buy that game. Nonetheless, there will be a distinct void here, like when someone gets out of prison and they’ve lost that innocent part of their brain and now they can never look at life the same way again. Destructoid has lost an intelligent, eloquent writer, and while I know it’s the same Destructoid, something is going to be very different, and it won't ever feel quite the same. The change is going to be nothing short of profound.
I just watched The Fifth Element for the first time since I forgot that it existed, and now that I am experienced enough to comprehend its profound artistic achievements, I aim to bring you the long awaited and totally necessary comparison with a game I like that conclusively proves this one thing is exactly like the other, except in the ways in which it is not.
In a lot of ways, the artistic and authorial direction in both T5thE and BG&E induce identical feelings of awe, immersion and character empathy, but who gives a bitch about all that. You’re here for the same reason I am; because it’s Thursday afternoon and you’re bored and you want something that sounds like something Jim Sterling would have written before he became an intellectual pussy.
They both use famous philosophical quotes
Anyone with an English college degree can recognise witty historical references in their pop culture. I don’t have one of those, but it doesn’t take a genius to recognise the great teachings of Sun Tzu in “Git out of there. I don’t want a incident.” Or the common political philosophy by Thomas Jefferson “JAMBOLIAAAAHH!” It is in this quality that they stand apart from their respective mediums, for only a fool would miss such wistful shit as “Yeah SHE KNOWS it’s a Multipass.”
Both have Jamaican mechanics
Jamaicans are not known for their mechanical abilities, or anything at all for that matter apart from choosing unconventional haircuts to offend old people with. Our two resident artistic opuses - or opera - are set to fix that; by painting them as the kind of slur-speaking, fume-huffing, lazy illiterate weirdoes that all mechanics are famously known as being. In a time where political correctness is so valuable, it’s nice to see these progressive paragons doing their bit to make all races feel inferior and worthless.
This point is to prove that I have a grasp on current events. I have a grasp on current events.
Luc Besson stole the premise from BG&E anyway
A rational man would say that stereotypes are unanimously always correct. The known stereotype of France is that they ride around with onions and blue striped tops, but that doesn’t support my hyperbolic, attention-grabbing title. To combat this, I’ve decided that all French steal things; a fact that makes perfect sense if you use Logic, an arcane divination that I just found on Wikipedia. Michel Ancel is also French, which makes it double-fact.
They both have flying taxis
LOOK AT THE FLYING TAXIS OH GOD IT’S ALL THE DISSAPOINTMENT OF TODAY WITH THE TECHNOLOGY OF TOMORROW
I haven’t done this in a while. Still a bit tender. A little unrefined. A game that makes you start writing again is one that you don’t want to fuck up, so bare with me if this sounds a little off.
Icycle is a short Flash game that you should play if you like videogames. You should play it now, and then come back to me when you’re done. It takes an approach to pacing and style that I’ve never seen before - at least, never done so gracefully and perfectly.
For instance, it does that thing where you have to die at least once to realise you weren’t in fact supposed to do that. Under typical circumstances, this would diminish everything the game works towards, yet with Icycle, it aids in crafting the intended tone. Death is often bizarre or fantastical, provoking mirth instead of irritation. The humour diffuses any sense of failure, while at the same time, reinforcing the rules of the game. In doing so, the gameplay acquires a texture, rather than the polarising mechanic of winning / losing.
Icycle also incorporates the exploration style of games like Knytt and Small Worlds. It never uses words to tell a story - instead it is told through the graphics, the environment and the set pieces you pass by. A world is presented to you that is charming and rich, without a drop of inflection needed to infer its characteristics.
There is one other thing that Icycle performs in - and performs so well that it makes you wonder why this approach to linearity has taken so long, and it makes you retroactively wish side-scrolling games had learned this long ago. The mechanics of Icycle prevent you from going anywhere but right, thus allowing you to be drip-fed a certain style of gameplay. You’ll speed off an ice block, land on a crumbling cliff and only just bounce up onto a stable outcrop. You’ll have to delicately navigate huge expanding iceflows at just the right speed to prevent yourself from either falling to your death or being trapped into the enclosing ice. Each of the eight levels are short, but every one offers something new, and takes your understanding of the game or the world or the mechanics to a new place.
So that’s the article. Did I do it right? Was I too pretentious? That last paragraph was too long, I know it. I should probably also ask what you think or something. Damn, I probably need to practice more. On the plus side, at least I used the words ‘just’ and ‘kinda’ less this time. Gotta control that shit.
Edit: Looks like this came out two days ago, sorry if this is old news.
It happened last year with L4D, and now it's happening again this year with another woefully insecure demo for public dissection. If you've played through the demo a couple of times (which would be a fine stunt considering the occasionally broken lobby system) and feel like playing as the new infected, then download this mod and gather a bunch of friends to do the things zombies do to survivors.
- First things first, once your L4D2 demo has downloaded, right click on it, go to Properties > Updates and turn off automatic updates. I guarantee you this will be patched in the days or weeks to come; you'll thank me for this later.
- Second of all, go here and download this file.
- Thirdly, unzip the file into you Left 4 Dead 2 demo 'addons' folder. That's the hard part done.
- Now, start the game.
- Go to Options > Keyboard > Allow Developer Console and change it to 'enable'.
- Press the ` or ~ key (the key next to 1 and above tab, 'tilde' on American keyboards) to open the console
- Type... plugin_allow_remote_commands 1
plugin_cvar sb_all_bot_team 1
- Start a single player game or local multiplayer lobby
- Open the console again and type "set_infected 1"
You can also enable cheats, although not in exactly the same way as before. Valve has disabled cheats directly, but you can still enable them by creating a 'listen server', whatever one of those is. Anyway, here's how you get around it:
- Open the console and type... "map e5m1..." and select the first map from the drop down menu.
- Once in game, type in "sv_cheats 1" and you're away.
You can spawn items by typing "give ..." (with a space afterwards) and selecting the appropriate item. You can spawn infected by typing "z_spawn ..." and adding the name of whichever infected you choose and there are of course all the cheats from L4D which carry over, with a whole bunch more as well. I'm going to set up a script for this to make it easier to execute and add a list of fun commands tomorrow. In the meantime, get yourself infected and start breaking bones.
Crash Course is good. Very good. I'd go so far as to say that, with the exception of certain moments in the other campaigns, it is the best versus campaign I've played so far. It combines the best elements of versus and compresses them. This does a number of things. For one, it obviously means the maps are more concise. You can play a round of versus and not feel obligated to play and play until your infant children have starved or your family members physically pull you away in a fiery commotion of tears and psychiatry or maybe that's just me.
The less obvious side effect is that it allows overlap between the memorable moments of L4D, which is definitely a positive. A witch attack will be lined up side by side with a car alarm, which is right next to an errant gas can that a smoker is going to pull you though. Instead of each moment being a separate event, everything is going on at once. The peaks and valleys are still there, but they are swifter; amplified by the campaign's length.
Things I liked about Crash Course.
- The level design. There are plenty of cars, alarms, high roofs, tight corners and precarious ledges that make the jobs of each special infected more accessible and increase the risk to the survivors. At the same time, there are now more routes to take, with subtle sandbox elements that prevent overt camping and stacking.
- The atmosphere. This campaign feels to me like a better representation of the Zombie Apocalypse (capitalised) than the other levels. Crash Course is brimming with history and implied story.
- The humour. The dialogue has been expanded upon for Crash Course with additional writing on the walls and survivor remarks, which are fucking awesome. I won't spoil this for you, but you'll appreciate the detail.
- It's free. This isn't something I'd explicitly pay for. It's good, but it is only two chapters. It's appreciated content and the reason why Valve is the only company who ever gets my money on day one.
Things I didn't like so much about Crash Course.
- The art style. The levels are still very blue, and sometimes they are orange. I'm kinda sick of that colour scheme. I liked the green and brown pallet of Blood Harvest and the rich oranges of Dead Air. When I saw the live stream, I thought I was watching No Mercy.
-The humour. Yes I know I said I liked it. But there are a few jokes that jar with me. The "I love Helicopters!" exchange is the perfect example of how not to roll with a meme.
- The length. I really wanted three chapters. I was holding out for an announcement that there would be a third, but unfortunately that didn't happen. There is plenty of content to warrant replay, but hopping back and forth between the two chapters will get old.
- The connection problems. I didn't much like spending an hour downloading from the Tiwan, Polish, Irish and Singapore servers because all the UK bandwidth was being used. To eventually get into the game and realise that there were no servers available except local hosts was little comfort. Every game I have played, I haven't gotten under a ping of 150.
In conclusion, Crash Course has some issues, but trumps them by being awesome, and who gives a shit anyway you malicious bastard. It's free and brilliant so shut your whore mouth. Unless you have a 360, in which case, don't buy it, unless you really don't have anything else you want to spend the moon money on.
Xbox 360 users can download and play Crash Course right now. For us PC troglodytes, we have to wait till valve feels like giving us the update. So to tide us over, here is a live stream of the game being played.