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Left4Dead 2

By Neil Schneider

  • Introduction
  • General Game Review
  • NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Findings
  • iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings
  • DDD Tridef Ignition Findings
  • Conclusion


    Introduction


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.4.6

    A few months ago, we reviewed Valve’s Left4Dead, arguably the most popular zombie video game ever! Machine guns, explosive bile, and multiplayer mayhem made it a title to remember. While several members raised valid complaints about our glowing S-3D review, the bar has been set for the follow-up release.

    Valve was kind enough to send us Left4Dead 2, and it clearly has some big, soggy shoes to fill. Let’s see how it did!

    WARNING: The images and videos shared in this review contain gore, violence, and profanity.



    General Game Review

    The original Left4Dead formula is still intact. You play one of four leading characters, and your sole goal is to survive as you travel from one point to the next. In a late 70’s, early 80’s B-movie Savannah setting, you need to work as a team. You need to cover, heal, and occasionally shock your team mates back to life...if necessary.

    The environments are more rural than before. Instead of travelling through a city, you will traverse swamps, an amusement park, hotels, and more. What stands in your way? Why, zombies, of course!


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.4.6

    Similar to the original Left4Dead, all our friends are still around:

    The traditional dazed or "Mudder" zombie sleepwalks around until they see you in their sights. They are easy to pick off in small groups, but once they get the smell of meat, they attack in hoards.

    The “Hunter Zombie” is one of the tear you limb from limb zombies. When you hear him growl, keep a sharp eye out.

    The “Boomer Zombie” hasn’t lost any weight since we saw him last. You can hear his indigestion from far away, and it’s a good thing too! When he vomits on you, his bile is blinding, and it attracts hoards of zombies your way. When you take him out, cover your eyes because bullets and Boomers make for bloody explosions.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.4.6

    The “Witch”, who you can hear crying, wants to be left alone. Keep your flashlight off and don’t shoot at her. If she gets “startled”, she will tear you to pieces until your friends can fend her off.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver

    The “Smoker Zombie” still tries to French kiss and strangle from great distances, so shoot him as soon as possible, and be careful of the nasty gas cloud he leaves behind.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver

    The “Tank Zombie” is the Left4Dead line-backer. Same as before, he breaks through walls and likes to shake the place up. Be prepared to cooperate against him, or you are done for.

    Now what would a sequel be without some new acquaintances?

    If you thought "The Smoker" had bad breath, "The Spitter" spews out acidic slime. When you destroy him, he leaves a huge puddle of green goo that burns to the touch. Be careful with this guy.

    In my opinion, "The Jockey" is the worst of the bunch. If you aren’t fast enough, he will jump on your shoulders and try to rip your head off its socket. At least, I think that’s what he is trying to do. They recommend you move around as much as possible to try and shake him off, but I haven’t had much luck with this. If a friend is stuck with one, give it a good shove and start blasting!


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver

    Fortunately, with new enemies come new weapons! In addition to the classic guns, bombs, and Molotov Cocktails, you have several more weapons choices. You can get a variety of machine guns, sniper rifles (with a scope), enhanced pistols, grenade launchers, and more. Not happy with the gun you have? Scrounge around and you will find laser-sight add-ons, enhanced ammunition (incendiary, fire-tipped, explosive, etc.), and more.

    While my favourite grenade is still the pipe bomb because it attracts hoards of zombies and blows them up all at once, there are new options at your disposal. A jar of bile uses the Boomer’s high-tech gastric gifts against the zombies. Throw the bile, and the hoards come running at the target. You can then blast away at the focused zombie crowd.


    iZ3D 1.10 Release Driver

    In addition to the traditional medic pack and the pain pills, you can find adrenalin injections that temporarily increases your health level and gives you super-human strength and abilities. While this hasn’t benefited me in single player yet, there are also shock paddles that will wake your team members from the dead if necessary (and I’m sure it will be necessary).

    What do you do when you run out of ammunition? Do you just give up? Heck no! You pick up the local frying pan, samurai sword, axe, electric guitar, and whatever else you can find to start whacking those zombies! If you are lucky, you can find a trusty chainsaw and paint the town red. Unfortunately, the chainsaw has limited juice, so chop wisely.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver

    One more dynamic added to the game is you occasionally need to complete missions to get through a level. While the original Left4Dead was about pulling a lever and surviving a zombie hoard, you now have to do things. Dangerous things! Like finding gasoline canisters to fill your escape car up, or grabbing a 6 pack of cola in the local grocery store, etc. etc.

    Multiplayer has had some enhancements too. For example, there is a "realism" mode that requires you to keep a line of sight relationship with your team members, or they become hard to find. Round based modes, etc. etc. A lot of effort was taken to bring Left4Dead 2 to the next level of multiplayer team-based gaming.

    You get the idea! Now the most important part...how is Left4Dead 2 in stereoscopic 3D?



    NVIDIA Stereoscopic 3D Findings

    NVIDIA specs:

    Maingear X-Cube
    Intel Core I7 Processor 2.66GHZ
    6GB RAM
    2 X GTX 275 (SLI)
    Windows 7 64 Bit
    NVIDIA 196.21 Stereo Driver
    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision / Samsung 2233RZ Monitor

    While NVIDIA’s current Left4Dead 2 profile suggests poor skyline rendering and 2D reflections on water surfaces, they actually do much better than they claim. It’s possible that their profile description is out of date.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver

    Gamers can achieve a combined depth and pop-out experience, and have the further benefit of a working in-game dynamic cross-hair. It is not necessary to use an extra target reticule to compensate for the stereoscopic 3D gaming experience. The game can be played with all the eye candy turned on too, which is a big plus.


    S-3D video sample of Left4Dead 2 made with FRAPS

    NOTE: Visit the original YouTube page to view in stereoscopic 3D. Several S-3D viewing options are available.

    In our previous review of Left4Dead, we described the game as being "flawless". Several members criticized the review because it didn’t take into account the difference in proportions between the game space, and the surrounding 3D Skybox or backdrop. Left4Dead was also criticized because the game’s nametags are in 2D versus stereoscopic 3D like the rest of the scene.


    NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision 196.21 Stereo Driver

    All things being equal, since the rendering is at least as good as the previous Left4Dead title, we will put it in the "very good" to "excellent" category. However, it’s not flawless because we would like to see future games use stereoscopic 3D nametags. I couldn’t really find a skybox problem, but our members may be a bit sharper in spotting this. For me, these issues weren’t distracting.

    The most noticeable flaw are the guns when seeking out of screen experiences. Some rifles separate too much compared to the rest of the scene. It’s nothing major, but the challenge is there.



    iZ3D Stereoscopic 3D Findings

    The iZ3D System Specs Include:

    AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
    Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
    EVGA GTX285
    Windows 7 64 Bit
    Zalmon Trimon 22” Monitor
    iZ3D drivers 1.10

    Similar to the NVIDIA findings, iZ3D’s results are very good. Using iZ3D’s dominant eye cross-hair system, you can still use the in-game target reticule. If necessary, iZ3D has an add-on target system too for those who find it more comfortable.


    iZ3D 1.10 Release Driver

    The results are almost on par with NVIDIA’s solution, with the exception of the first outdoor scene in the first chapter. When you look in the distance, the polarity or the left/right view of the buildings are in reverse compared to everything else in the scene. It is very distracting. Fortunately, this anomaly only happens on this level. If this can be corrected, iZ3D’s score can easily go up.

    In the Left4Dead 2 iZ3D profile setting, be sure to activate the "simple stereo projection method" feature. This prevents the guns from doubling too much as they do with the NVIDIA solution.

    iZ3D was kind enough to provide a few screenshots using their driver. Version 1.10 has a bug that prevents screen captures from their interlaced mode.



    DDD Stereoscopic 3D Findings

    The DDD System Specs Include:

    AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Quad Core Processor 2.5Ghz
    Patriot Extreme Viper PC2-8500 4GB RAM
    EVGA 285GTX
    Windows 7 64 Bit
    Zalmon Trimon 22” Monitor
    Tridef Experience 4.1.3 Package (with 2.4.6 Ignition drivers)

    While very enjoyable, DDD’s Left4Dead 2 results are the most challenged.

    Similar to iZ3D, DDD has the same anomaly in the outdoor level where the stereoscopic polarity is reversed on the distant buildings. Furthermore, while the rest of the game is mostly anomaly free, the reflections and shadows on water surfaces are in 2D versus stereoscopic 3D.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.4.6

    While it is unclear if this bug is limited to our system, we found that the game slows down to a crawl when anti-aliasing (AA) is turned on from within the game, and the resolution is above 1280X720.

    You’d think that DDD’s score would be much reduced, but they have a competitive advantage. Experienced gamers can play with their driver’s more advanced settings and get a perfect mix of depth and pop-out, while making the guns look as though they are rendered deep into the scene. The other solutions make the gun float unnaturally in front of the display. It’s up to the player to determine what mix works best for them.


    DDD Tridef Ignition 2.4.6

    In summary, the game is very enjoyable with the DDD solution, though it’s not quite on par with NVIDIA and iZ3D’s offering this time around...yet.



    Conclusion

    If you’ve got a hankering for human brains...oh wait! If you have a hankering to devastate those who want to get their teeth into YOUR human brains, Left4Dead 2 is the way to go. New enemies, new weapons, lots of blood and green goo...you can’t go wrong!

    The stereoscopic 3D outcome is better than expected. While NVIDIA’s results came out on top, the differences between drivers were far from dramatic. Future profile updates will likely clear up any remaining issues.

    Share your thoughts in our discussion forums, and sample more pictures in our Left4Dead 2 image gallery.

    Game Play
    8/10

    Sound
    7/10

    Presentation
    8/10

    Immersive Nature
    8/10

    How Memorable Is This Game
    8/10

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness NVIDIA
    9/10

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness iZ3D
    8.5/10

    Stereoscopic Effectiveness DDD
    8/10

    NVIDIA Overall Rating:
    8/10

    iZ3D Overall Rating:
    7.92/10

    DDD Overall Rating:
    7.83/10