Back 4 Blood is the cutting edge action cheese from the 00s and I’m here for it

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Back 4 Blood released today, this new game from the original developers of Left 4 Dead that is definitely not Left 4 Dead 3, but still about turning waves of zombies into splashing on the post-apocalyptic sidewalk as a as a cooperative team. And yes, I still love him. It’s funny. It’s so much fun. When isn’t this formula fun? The final version is, in several ways, an improvement over the beta. The characters make more jokes, there are cinematic cutscenes, and if you have to play with bots, those bots don’t spend all of their time shooting in drywall. Tick, tick, tick.

But playing the full game in context, with stuff like opening cutscenes and tutorial videos built into it, something else became clear: this game is the best cheese of the early 2000s. Not just because that many enemies have the same texture as a fully loaded pizza.

I consider this a statement made primarily for informational purposes. There is no moral weight inherent in what I am saying. That’s exactly what the game looks like, and it’s one of the things that makes Back 4 Blood different from other games of this type and, indeed, Left 4 Dead. If you were in school around 2000-2008, think about this guy. He started trying to grow a beard whenever he could. He wore a beanie and hoodie for a group somewhere on the spectrum from Linkin Park to DragonForce. Optional but probable portfolio chain; ditto sweatband on at least one wrist, whether he plays the guitar or not. I have been downloading most of the years. This guy is now 35 and Back 4 Blood is his favorite game.

Did I just hit a human head with a baseball bat or a Capri Sun? There’s no way to tell.

The tone of Left 4 Dead was always pretty neutral. Of course, it was a co-op zombie shooter, which just won’t appeal to everyone, and it put a bit of flavor into the characters’ fighting barks. But in Left 4 Dead, neither the characters nor the game itself ever spoke in the same tone of exposure that the Sylvester Stallone character would use to give life advice to Jason Statham’s character in a movie. But in Back 4 Blood the first cutscene contains the following dialogue exchange:

Bearded man in serious negotiation over a bag of supplies, under the overhead lighting of pool table lamps: “I’m done playing the soldiers for him, and you should be too. Come on Chris, don’t tell me you’re still falling for your BS – especially after what happened to Jason.”
Mom, strong mature woman character, pointing finger at bearded man: “Don’t take my son in there!”
[Bearded man is almost immediately killed by a single zombie, before you go on to mow hundreds of them down indiscriminately like a group of teens on the way to the big slide pushing every toddler they see into the pool]

It’s not just the characters either. Everything from marketing blurbs and promotional screens to tutorials and in-game tips makes it seem like if he was personified it would be a dude in a leather kutte saying Ritchiean liners like “If milk turns out to be sour, I don’t have that ain’t the kind of pussy to drink it. ” And you know what? Damn, man, I’ve watched every movie on The Expandables, and the first of those bastards came out in 2010. Who am I to roll my eyes when a seemingly ironic-free video tutorial uses the phrase “locked, armed and rock ready” in 2021? And Back 4 Blood deserved it; the guns feel fucking immaculate.

“Locked, cocked and ready to rock” is also what the guitarist of an AC / DC cover band says when the singer asks him if he is satisfied with the soundcheck

The tone is quite consistent for the content of the game i.e. zombs exploding like overripe tomatoes. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but personally I’m a notorious tea fan, and in this case it would be thematically consistent to slip in a pinch of something stronger and lift a fucking hell.

Because that guy at school was a cool guy too! He didn’t have a particular beef with anyone, and at least once he offered you a glass of water when you were throwing up, but your mate was too busy strangling someone else in a bush. “No worries,” he said, before returning to the room where he and the rest of the adjacent Metal Clique were drinking room temperature cider and nodding solemnly to the sound of Rammstein’s songs. Like Batman, but in Etnies. So over to you, my brother! Hope we will meet in a game someday.


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