Left 4 Dead

Review

posted 11/19/2008 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
To heighten the feeling of dread and horror, many areas are low on light with only your flashlight giving you a clear but limited field of vision. Since the lights are attached to the weapons, it creates an interesting strobe like effect on the zombie faces when you are in the middle of a reload as well as when the weapon kicks up when being fired. It’s pretty cool to see glimpse of rotting faces as you run around and fire your weapons. Seeing those quick flashes of angry zombie facial expressions will have you feeling like you’re right in the middle of a movie.

Your weapons of choice include two types of shotguns, an assault rifle, dual pistols, a sniper rifle, and an Uzi. The shotguns have a nice throwback effect on incoming zombies sending their bodies flying backwards. The Uzi and assault rifle are great for mowing down a group from a distance. As always, aim for the head for the best results. Besides the basic firearms, you’ll also have the ability to hold some Molotov cocktails or pipe bombs. Ammo is sparse so you’ll get into spots where you’ll have to rely on your pistols, which have unlimited ammo, heightening the feeling of suspense. You won’t be entirely vulnerable having just your pistols out but it’ll be a lot tougher this way. You can also use some items laying around to take down the infected. Throw and shoot at a gas can to ignite the area and toast the rotting flesh off of the undead. Some areas will also house a minigun that heats up red when unloading the ammo on the charging horde. If you are getting surrounded by zombies, you can always use your melee attack to push them off or bash them with the gun. I would’ve liked to have seen some bladed weapons but alas the few weapons that are available will have to do.


So the campaign is pretty short and you’ll probably finish it in less than half an hour. While the game can be quick to play, the level of replayability is increased by a few factors. First of all, there’s an AI director that will add or remove zombies from areas depending on how you are doing. If you’re not such a good player, expect less zombies. Those that are experts in FPS games can see more groups and more specialized zombies. Zombies can also appear from different places as dictated by the Director so playing through it multiple times can turn into different experiences.
Single player is OK but where the game really shines is having three other friends join you for the ride. When hopping into various multiplayer campaigns, each time it was completely different because of the different placement of the zombies and the different way people play. Some stick together better than others, some coordinate better. Playing with a wide variety of people is half the fun in trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Versus mode is an interesting feature but only available on two campaigns. Up to two groups of four can play each side: survivor and zombie. Those that play as survivors will not find anything too different. As the zombies, you’ll have the ability to spawn as a random specialized undead with the exception of the witch. You’ll be able to see your teammates as well before they spawn so you guys can plan out how and where you want to attack the survivors. Once spawn, you’ll most likely die quickly unless you are really good at ambushing the other team but you’ll get around 25 seconds or so to plan your next attack when you respawn. Once the survivors reach their goal, the roles are reversed and you’ll get to see the scores at the end of each round to see how each team does. Having humans as zombie enemies really adds to the variety of the game because it’s always harder to go up against “non-cheating” enemies and it’s just more fun. I’m hoping the other two campaigns are added in later on down the road for Versus mode as I’d love to play more of this game type.


What Valve Software has done is created a fun little game where cooperation is the key and zombie killing is the name of the game. Left 4 Dead offers fun gameplay for up to four folks in campaign mode and eight people in versus mode. The game is short to play from start to finish but there’s a good amount of replay value in there. Graphics perfect recreating the atmosphere of zombie movies perfectly from the use of lighting effects, filter effects, inspired architecture, high quality models, and smooth animation.  If I know Valve, I’m expecting many free additions to the game. I’d love to see some more campaigns, weapons, zombies, and gamepl ay modes. I feel Valve’s Left 4 Dead is just the tip of the iceberg and I want more. Let’s hope they deliver but until then, get three of your close friends and free the world of the infected, one bullet at a time.


A-
While it's a short campaign for all four, the game's solid as a rock and offers a good deal of replayability. The graphics and animations are some of the best I've seen for a zombie game and having three others play with you is just a load of fun. Playing as the zombies is also a nice feature as well.



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