Every night the Infected come, a tsunami of mindless decaying flesh, driven by the need to annihilate the Survivors. Every night the unlikely band of Survivors flight back with dwindling supplies of ammunition, med kits and pills that will keep them going until they reach a safe harbor. Every night, the struggle goes on and on and on.
And its keeping me up at night!
5. The Ultimate Zombie Apocalypse.
Zombie movies are an acquired taste that I never really acquired. But if you are a fan of George A. Romero's Dead movies or the more recent 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later or the more recent I am Legend - you will love the game. Valve has imagined the Perfect Zombie Apocalypse and made it into Left 4 Dead.
Valve didn't even bother going into the backstory of how it all happened, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that you and a few survivors have been brought together by blind fate, virtual strangers (ahem) to survive. It is set in the typical urban landscape to the open fields where you are running and surviving from one shelter to another. You will fight the infected in apartment buildings, alley ways, warehouses, airports, corn fields, the woods, by the river - and this is where the 4 campaigns are set. You survive from one safe house to another and and at the end of each campaign you need to survive the final assault.
Each Campaign is opened by a faux movie poster with a title and a campy tagline. (See ===> )
4. Zombies, Infected, Living Dead. Oh My!
Infected hordes are made up by more than your garden variety Infected that come snarling at full tilt. Individually they are not particularly dangerous, but in the numbers that do show up, they can be dangerous. But in the darkness where your feeble flash light can't reach, are other infected, waiting to ambush the straggler or the unwary survivor - the Hunter, which lurks to pounce on you then try to beat your face in, the Smoker which try to strangle you with their tongue from 50 feet away. Once they pounce on you, you need one of your mates to come and extract you. Next is the Boomer, which will puke green bile all over you which the horde finds extremely attractive. Then you have the hulking Tank which you could hear coming a mile away, but can follow you anywhere you can go - from rooftops to small closets. Lastly is the Witch which you can also hear from a mile away, yet is equally dangerous with her one hit knock-down and equally high hit points.
3. It's the Gameplay Stupid.
Gameplay is basically the typical FPS shooter. Just like the setting, Left 4 Dead doesn't cover new ground. What it does is that it brings the best of the movies, FPS games and coop multi-play, blend them all into a unique experience that is Left 4 Dead.
Graphics are great - portraying the gloomy and dark world where the Infected roam. Characters look good, so do the Infected, from the blood spattered walls to the crumbling buildings to the way the guns heat up after prolonged gunfight. Sounds are also well done - especially the gunfire, explosions. Most notably are the character voice acting - which are funny or anxious at times and lends a lot of believability of how people will sound in similar circumstances.
2. I Will Survive.
Somehow Valve have managed to get 4 virtual strangers online and put them in circumstances that they need each other to survive the game. Early on you have the noobs and Rambos who think they can go out and 'win' the game on their own - the moment they stray from the group, they are pounced on by the various Infected. You will have a few stragglers who figure that by staying in the back they will let the others take the brunt of the Infected attack. They too will be taken out. The only way to survive this to stay close to one another and cover each other.
In fact there is no 'wining' in :Left 4 Dead. Your goal is survival because no matter how many Infected you take out there will always be more - and it's nothing like the Beheaded Bomber rush in Serious Sam. Because in other games you progress through the game clearing rooms and areas. Here you need to fight your way through an area to get to the safe house. You can never really 'clear' an area in the traditional sense. As a team you are always mindful of what is ahead of you as well as behind you.
1. The Experience
To top it all off there is an A.I Director which directs the experience which you are having. Ultimately this is a marketing speak for a algorithm that literally paces the game for you. If you are having too touch a time, it will spawn more med kits or ammo, if you are getting through the game too easily it will accordingly ramp up the Infected attacks and how they attack. So no two games are the same... and overall it is quite good at keeping tensions levels high.
No game has made me feel lonely at the finale, as the survivors are rushing to the escape vehicle and suddenly you are pounced by a Hunter, and the rest of your mates make it through - but you are left for dead. Or the exhilaration you feel when you barely make it through and see the Infected swarm the last room or the last building as you escape on a chopper.
Left 4 Dead brings you a totally unique game experience where you and other online players need to - and will work together simply to survive the campaigns. While I wasn't really into the survival horror games, Left 4 Dead has now made me a great fan - at least of this game.