Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Left4Dead Week: Destructible Scenery

Left4Dead week will feature one short piece on Left4Dead each day this week to celebrate the full release of the game.

Left4Dead has a reasonably robust implementation of destructible scenery, without reaching the flexibility of Fracture or Red Faction. Elements of the level, notably windows, doors and some walls can be destroyed; mostly by the marauding undead who feature in the game. There’s several nice features of the way Valve has implemented this:

1. There’s no obvious seaming of destructible elements, or any other indicator to differentiate destructible or non-destructible. This means you can never be sure if a wall will be torn asunder as a zombie crashes through it. Some walls do get destroyed too frequently to be a surprise: such as the wall below the collapsed room in the apartments; but I bet you didn’t know that one of the upstairs room walls can similarly be blown apart by a Hunter coming down from the roof.

2. Closed doors block the undead from moving through them - instead they start to bash chunks out of the door in horror movie cliché style. This can be used tactically, such as to hold up a flood of zombies while you shoot them apart.

3. The tank can tear up chunks of concrete and throw them at you. These chunks don’t have any long term effects, but it sure looks good.

4. The fragments of the destroyed scenery end up as physics elements which can be pushed around further, such as when a boomer or pipe bomb explodes.

5. You’re not forced to progress through any destructible scenery yourself: there’s always a route around. This means you don’t have to figure out which part of the map the level designer was hinting you should blow up.

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