Left 4 Dead


posted 12/11/2008 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: 360
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.

I’ve been really into the PC version of the game when the 360 version dropped at my door step. Going from the PC to the 360 is a little bit of a change since I’m very comfortable with a keyboard and mouse setup. In any case, Left 4 Dead on the 360 amounts to the same fun as the PC version with a different control scheme and longer load times.

Yes, the game does take longer to load in between levels but that’s just the nature of the beast. I don’t have enough room on my hard drive to see if installing the game onto the hard drive will speed up load times. Overall though, I say the load times aren’t that bad compared to the PC versions when it goes between levels.

Playing with friends can be accomplished a few ways. The game supports two player splitscreen so you can bust zombies with another person in the same room. If you got more Xbox 360s lying around, system link will let you hook up to eight of them together. Finally, online play is there of course and it’s what makes this game so much fun. The matchmaking service in Left 4 Dead makes it easy to jump into a certain type of game or join up with your buddies or strangers. It’s the same as the PC where you can quickly jump into any game whether it’s starting or started or create a lobby with friends and strangers.

Control wise, the two triggers are the attack buttons which is pretty natural. For crouching, the left bumper initiates this action and the right bumper does a quick 180 degree spin. Yes, to help compensate for the lack of quick turning on a 360 controller, there’s a dedicated turn button which I did use a few times to quickly take out a zombie attacking me from behind. The left analog stick moves you around and you can click down to activate voice chatting. The right stick lets you aim and pushing down will let you peer into the scope of the sniper rifle. One thing that is quicker on the 360 than on the PC is switching through your inventory. Each direction of the D-pad besides up corresponds to an item so you can quickly go to the med kit, pain pill, or grenade in a pinch. Pressing up on the D-Pad turns the flashlight on or off.

Playing with the controller the rumble effect comes in when you fire guns giving you a nice little feedback on what’s happening. Unfortunately, the controller remained still when manning the turrets. I was used to games like Halo or Gears of War where the controller would vibrate constantly when firing these heavy weapons. In Left 4 Dead, you won’t get that so it’s a mild disappointment in that aspect.

The HUD for the 360 version is pretty much the same as the PC with the exception of the D-Pad display. Here, you’ll quickly see which direction does what action since 360 gamers don’t have a mouse wheel to deal with.

Graphics wise, the game looks great but of course doesn’t look as sharp as the PC version. I didn’t notice any bad graphical glitches or texture pop-ins of the sort. There is the occasional clipping problem but that’s also in the PC version as well. I was afraid that the 360 would start bogging down when a large group of zombies come attacking but it held up really well with an occasional slowdown. It was rare but it happened and it didn’t affect the game too much. Overall, the experience was good and the frame rate held up even when the horde of zombies come running at you.

The one thing I like about the 360 version over the PC version is the nice way voice is integrated into the setup. I wish the PC version would figure out a way to funnel the voice through the ear piece rather than through the speakers and I was more easily able to hear my teammates voices using the 360 mic setup. Communication is the key in both campaign and versus mode so being able to hear and talk to your teammates is essential and the 360 version accomplishes this better than the PC version. There doesn’t seem to be a way to type to other teammates for those with the chat pad and it’s something I would’ve liked to have seen. I know most people communicate with the headset anyways on the 360 so it’s not much of an omission in this regard.

Updates though have been coming in every few weeks it seems for the PC version but I’ve yet to see an update for the 360 version. That’s one thing that’s nice about the PC version in that you’ll get fixes quicker if something’s not right about the game. I’m assuming with the tighter control on the online portion for the console makes putting out a patch a little longer process but I’m hoping that the 360 version gets any fixes or play balances in the near future.

While my preference is still with the PC version, the 360 version of Left 4 Dead is still a ton of fun. If this is the only way you can play the game, you should definitely pick it up. Whether you play in a campaign with three others or join the zombie apocalypse as part of the infected, Left 4 Dead will give you many, many hours of intense cooperative and competitive game play to last you a long time or until the inevitable sequel comes out. And like any horror movie, you know they’re already thinking up of a sequel to this game.

Just like on the PC, the 360 version of Left 4 Dead is just immensely fun to play. Whether you go on the hunt or are the hunted, Left 4 Dead will leave you wanting more every time you finish a campaign.

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