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Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead

PC | Xbox 360
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios Official Site: http://www.l4d.com/
Publisher: Valve Software
Left 4 Dead

Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: Turtle Rock Stud...
Official Site: http://www.l4d.com/
Publisher: Valve Software
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Left 4 Dead Review
Review By @ 02:50pm 28/11/08
XBOX360
There aren't a lot of fictional creations whose very lore becomes an open playing field for interpretation and reinterpretation. There are plenty of mainstay fictional ideas that get run into the ground, Star Wars and Star Trek being two obvious ones, but the respective licensors of those products holds their ownership with an iron fist.

I'm talking more about your concepts such as Lord of the Rings, which spawned the entire realm of fantasy and its many inhabitants. We wouldn't have the WarCraft franchise if not for Tolkien's creation of elves, orcs and dwarves. And fantasy would not be so concisely governed in the way that it is if not for the ultimate creation of Tolkien's fantasy realm rules. By intricately crafting a universe with rules, the lore can more easily be expanded upon and re-imagined again and again.

Nor would we have the Resident Evil series if not for George A. Romero's imagining and (no pun intended) fleshing out of the undead universe he arguably created. Stories of "zombies" have been circulating throughout history for a long time, but it wasn't until old George came along and set up specific rules for the zombie-infested horror landscape, we had a functional, scary world to fall in love with.

There have been many, many interpretations of the fantasy genre in as much as there has been plenty of spins on the life of a zombie. And while the Resident Evil series has nailed itself firmly down as the benchmark videogame zombie outing, Valve and Turtle Rock Studios have thrown their undead hat in the ring with a game that shakes the very foundation of the zombie crusted survival horror experience.


On paper, Left 4 Dead is an incredibly simple idea: four people are surrounded by hordes of undead and have to jump from safe-house to safe-house in order to escape the zombie apocalypse, protecting one another as they advance. That's it.

What's incredible about this non-complicated concept is that, at its core the simple nature of protecting your friends as well as yourself is super challenging. This complexity stems from having life-threatening, timely tasks thrown at you alongside your ability to deal with them, based solely on the strength of your reflexes and how unselfish you can be in the thick of it.

This all comes in the form of item-management and protection, as ultimately you and your team only have a few things to rely on for getting from point A to point B, besides each other. Each of you can carry one medpack, one canister of painkillers, a pipe-bomb or Molotov cocktail, handguns and a main weapon (as well as ammo).

With all that you can freely utilise your health items on yourself or any of your partners, and riddled throughout the levels are extras for you to find and replenish yourself with.

In saying all that though, two team-members who've been attacked by a Hunter or Witch zombie (more on these shortly), while the others have been fighting off an unprecedented storm of normal undead, may end up crippling the team for using their medpacks too early or selfishly. It's important to ration health in terms of player strength, distance from the last safe-house to the next one or by working together to protect the weaker person.

So really, the challenge here is in facing situations you couldn't possibly predict. This is because of the "AI Director", a system that ensures you're never facing the enemy the same way and ultimately because of human error and judgement.

Left 4 Dead can be played alone with your buddies coming in as AI controlled players, but there really is no joy or fun in doing it that way. The strength of this game is in cooperative play with humans.

This is mostly because the AI characters are utterly unselfish and will liberally help you out, but with the human element, you're never assured an ultimately 'fair' game. Even with friends it can be tough deciding who gets help and who toughs it out. Moreover, the enemy zombies are a lot tougher with humans, and playing through the game on Hard mode with anything less than a full human troupe is almost impossible.

Then there's the human element as the bad element, too. In Versus Mode two teams vie to win; one by surviving and the other by tearing to shreds.

It's being on the shreds tearing team that is most fun here, because you're ultimately in charge of creating tension, horror and deep frustration within a group of survivors. It's that old zombie movie trick. You know the one; where one person in the survivor group turns out to be a total dick and makes a bad decision leading to everyone's brain-dishing demise.

Being the qualification for said demise is gruesomely rewarding, because for among the first time in the zombie horror experience, you're rooting for the sheer horror. It's genius.

There are four main campaigns, each taking something obligatory from the long history of zombie and horror media we've accepted as terror lore. Survivors working together to make it to a hospital, or survive undead encounters in a small town replete with farms, hay stacks and uninviting dark barns.

Amidst the zombies as cannon fodder are five different types of "boss" to face. The Boomer is a disgusting undead blob of a zombie who won't so much attempt to eat your brain as he'll baste you in zombie-inviting gravy. Get his goo on you and not only is it difficult to see anything, but you're about to face an onslaught of hungry undead. The smoker, on the other hand prefers to do his food shopping from afar, casting out a deadly red tongue like some returned-from-the-grave Rex Hunt. He won't kiss you and throw you back though, instead he leaves you dangling like a pinata for the rest of the horde to have at for your delicious goodies hidden inside.

The Hunter is like some hoodie-wearing punk kid turned flesh rotting undead human frog. He'll jump about in aggravation, avoiding your frantic shots until he pounces on you, knocking you to the floor. After this you're just slashed at repeatedly until more zombies come and help, or your buddies can knock him off and pull you to your feet. After these guys come the two really scary bad-guys – the Witch and the Tank.

If you're lucky enough to embody one of these monstrous cats in Versus Mode, live it up and cause as much mayhem as you can possibly muster. Otherwise, be ready to face two incredibly intense impediments.

The Tank is essentially the Hulk as a zombie. He's quick, powerful and won't stop at anything except your own death, and even with four of you he takes a lot to kill. The Witch, on the other hand is broodingly scary. She cries off in the distance, never really revealing her location until you, and your stupid need for a torch to make your way around, startle her and send her into a flurry. She'll knock you to the ground, wailing in your face with the sound of pure agony, slashing at you to and fro.

These two horrors are among the most intense you've ever faced in this type of game, and if you're not prepared, they're going to eat your face.

The simplified, streamlined toolset here is what makes the game so compelling. Because it's your wits, tenacity and looking out for your comrades that's going to get you through. Not some hidden bazooka, an airstrike or anything like that. And what you're facing is equally far more intense in number and pace than most games. When you hear about 100s of zombies coming at you, it's not like Dead Rising – these zombies are ravaging, crazy animals. Like wolves starving and desperate, they'll attack without abandon, and they do it with a single purpose: to eat you.

It's equally scary because the Source Engine has been used to great effect here. It's not the absolute prettiest game in the world, and there are a few areas throughout I thought could have done with a bit more detail, but your surroundings are really just there to round you up, like some insane sheep dog herding you for a harvest.

Shooting zombies looks awesome though, especially with the shotgun. Their heads explode in a splendid bloody mess, and their blood splatters realistically behind them. Ragdoll physics ensure the undead fall with realism, which completely helps in breathing a single sigh of relief when each one drops (as that's one less to face).

The system is fast and never hiccuped for me once (I'm running a GeForce 8800, but this game would easily run on lesser cards), and it also looks pretty damn impressive on the Xbox 360 (you're just not left with as much precise aim, which is something pretty important in a game like this).

In the end there's really not a lot to complain about with Left 4 Dead. In keeping things simple, the guys at Turtle Rock have left room for creative gameplay with other humans, and with the omnipresent AI Director keeping you on your toes, you're never going to have the same experience.

There's also something to be said about utilising this game to not only play with friends. Jump online and look for some random people to slog it out with. There's nothing more fitting in a zombie experience than to have people inexperienced with each other at the helm; it feeds the Murphy's law element of the oft mentioned lore of the zombie horror experience, and will likely throw an appropriate spanner in the works for veteran players and newcomers alike to 'get along'.

If you're a fan of zombies, shooting things, cooperative play and edge-of-your-seat, unpredictable gameplay, you really can't go wrong with Left 4 Dead. Here's hoping we see some new scenarios and DLC support for the game's longevity down the track.

What we liked
  • A cooperative experience like no other
  • Hundreds of fast, angry, hungry zombies out for your blood
  • Four scenarios to play countless ways through
  • Human element elevates the experience ten-fold
  • Versus Mode is intense fun
  • Great bosses
What we didn't like
  • Not the highest visual standard in first-person shooters
  • Single-player lacks some dynamic play (to be expected though)
More
We gave it:
9.3
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
Haklin
Posted 05:25pm 02/12/08
Hrmm I'll get around to playing this in a few years...too much of a game backlog

stupid 'real life' in the way of things
ctd
Posted 05:54pm 02/12/08
IMO this game should get the Steven Medal for Game of the Year.
Burt Raven
Posted 07:45pm 02/12/08
This is a game of 2 parts.

Part 1: Playing COOP as survivors against the AI infected horde - just awesome

Part 2: Playing versus as either Survivor OR infected - not finished

They added the play as infected part as an after-thought, as fun as it is it needs way more work to work...

FYI - buying it for Part 1 is MORE than worth the investment!
infi
Posted 07:49pm 02/12/08
i cancelled my left 4 dead from cdwow, got my money back through paypal, and a copy of it has just turned up in the post xD
Burt Raven
Posted 08:21pm 02/12/08
watch out infi - karma is a horde of zombies...
Midda
Posted 08:39pm 02/12/08
Haha, f*****g score.
Varchld
Posted 09:57pm 02/12/08
What's not finished in Vs mode? that they haven't released all 4 campagins for the mode yet?
You make it sound flawed rather then still being built upon but the mode is more fun after you've done co-op a lot.

L4D really must be played online, and after 40+ hours i'm only playing 1 or 2 games of it a day. There is a mod community building though http://www.l4dmods.com/
Making new campaigns and such. It's good as a casual game, just play for an hour every now and then or else repeditivity starts to get to me.
Articuz
Posted 10:00pm 02/12/08
f*****g lol infi.

why'd you cancel?
koopz
Posted 10:19pm 02/12/08
L4D really must be played online at a lan.


- it's a great game on lan...


- accidently shooting your team-mates while they're being horded by zombies (thanks to online lag) is just ghey.


- needs more local servers.


funny how more and more FPS games are best played in a zero-ping environment :/


last edited by koopz at 22:18:11 02/Dec/08

last edited by koopz at 22:19:05 02/Dec/08
Burt Raven
Posted 10:24pm 02/12/08
its all good, they will get vs right in the big patch they are no doubt working on.
Winston
Posted 10:34pm 02/12/08
Campaigns with friends is the most fun I've had with a game in ages.
Any f***up or friendly fire incident that causes a wipe is just laughed off and you then pickup and go again.
I found pug groups sometimes take it all a bit too seriously. That said I've had some great pug groups, some players which I have and will go around with again.

@varchld: thanks for the link!
FraktuRe
Posted 10:50pm 02/12/08
versus is f*****g fun as, you complaining b****.

and as it's valve, I have no doubt that they'll release more content.


just finished a marathon 7 or so hour 3 campaign run with minxy and some randoms. great fun.
infi
Posted 12:04am 03/12/08
i cancelled due to the copy i order inadvertantly being an EU copy.

however i have just installed it and SP works fine. dunno about MP.
ctd
Posted 12:09am 03/12/08
Omgz we just tried about 20 billion times to beat the blood harvest finale on expert and failed.

HELP US CHUB!
FraktuRe
Posted 12:10am 03/12/08
I played with chub, he f*****g failed.


Also, he broke the server!
Khel
Posted 12:20am 03/12/08
Vs mode is heaps of fun, but it did take me a little longer to warm to. First time I played the game, I jumped straight into vs mode, and not knowing the maps (and hence not knowing the direction the survivors are going to be heading in so you can setup sneaky ambushes) made it pretty frustrating. That, combined with the learning curve of getting the hang of the different zombies, led to a lot of quick deaths and then you sit there for 30 seconds waiting to respawn.

But after a few games, I was absolutely loving it, I cackle with crazy laughter each time I'm a hunter and get one of the survivors off by himself and rip him to absolute shreds. Or when you jump on someone, and get knocked off, but they neglect to actually kill you, so you go jump back on, love it :)
Martz
Posted 12:37am 03/12/08
they need some survivors vs survivors TDM with AI zombies and all infected classes.
CHUB
Posted 07:21am 03/12/08
I played with chub, he f*****g failed.


Also, he broke the server!
LOL sif, your mate is the one that fails, molotovs our entire team WHILE we're in the safe room, now that's fail.

Also that server sucked, I don't play VS on Normal because it's completely pointless and even 4 tanks on a finale can't dint a skilled survivor team, 2/1hp per zombie hit with unlimited melee can suck my ass.

But yeah, that server really didn't like the callvote :(
ravn0s
Posted 09:50am 03/12/08
i cancelled due to the copy i order inadvertantly being an EU copy.

however i have just installed it and SP works fine. dunno about MP.


english version is fine. exactly the same as US
Python
Posted 10:07am 03/12/08
One of the most enjoyable games I've recently played. Its at the point where I've said "ok, got other things to do right now" and then one friend asks if I want to play and then we have another wanting to play and instantly find myself loading the game up. Goooooooood fun. I even find it fun with newbs, just take it easy with them!
Kimbo
Posted 12:42pm 04/12/08
Treyarch the piece of s*** excuse that made COD5 also made 007: Quantum of Solace. The Zombie mode in COD5 was just a quick idea to cash in on Left 4 Dead being released. Treyarch never showed the zombie mode at E3 or any game expo but Valve was more than happy to show off their stuff.

When Treyarch made Quantum of Solace they said "Oh we love playing Goldeneye as multiplayer" but the multiplayer in QoS was just like that of COD5. Uninspirational, Shotgun overpowerd, trying to imitate COD4 and boring. The only good part was taking cover which isn't even worth it with the overpowered shotgun.

Left 4 Dead is the best multiplayer & coop I've played this year. Funny how Valve says "What TF2 did for TEAMPLAY... Left 4 Dead will do for cooperative gameplay." and that's what was delivered. FUN GAMEPLAY not the repetitive broken gameplay of go to X -> kill, blow up, etc (oh but wiait your limited by how many diamonds you have oh you just have to go out and find them... oh but wait your only in the first part of the game you have to go and find the weapon convoy...) *cough* Far Cry 2 *cough*

Left 4 Dead just works. Sure it was the whole melee quick switch thing but that will get fixed in time. New maps will be made and stuff will be added. SDK will be released while Far Cry 2's SDK isn't released. Get your friends to get Left 4 Dead. We can't tell you why its awesome it just is.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 09:30pm 04/12/08
I think you just did
parabol
Posted 12:06am 05/12/08
lol


Burt Raven
Posted 08:14pm 20/12/08
it is awesome, before broadband my mates and I would drag our PCs around and LAN party, before L4D I never played a single MP game with them - ever! Now we all have L4D and we all lurv it...
Imperial
Posted 02:42am 23/12/08
I just baught this yesterday and pretty much havent stopped playing it :P so i thought i'd put a little list together of the reasons WHY people who havent tryed it yet should get a copy.

1. The Action in the game is just as good as the Action in the cinematics
2. Graphics and Physics are amazing and run on lowerish end PCs
3. The gameplay is unbelievably balanced.
4. BLOOD AND GUTZ SLAUGHTERFEST! Need i say more?
5. The netcode is awesome.
6. The server browser is as simple as "Join game in progress" takes about 10 seconds and you're in. (doesnt realy matter if the server is far away because of the awesome netcode :P)
7. Movement of Zombies, Roles, behavior of AI, Maps, Lighting, Audio are all amazing.
8. The fact that if one of the 4 players on the survivors is off guard, all hell breaks loose and you have to pick each other back up, heal each other, all while fending off swarms and swarms of Zombies = win.
9. + Achievements are always fun.

So if you havent tryed it out already give it a whirl. Still yet to play it on LAN too :)

Also, this is just based on VS online. It was only after reading the whole thread that i realised there were two other game modes :S

last edited by Imperial at 02:42:50 23/Dec/08
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