Left 4 Dead - Valve’s latest title delivers a tremendously enjoyable experience
Format: Xbox 360/PC Style First-person shooter; Survival horror Modes Single player; 4-player cooperative multiplayer; 4-vs-4 multiplayer Pros Zombie ...
Format: Xbox 360/PC
First-person shooter; Survival horror
Single player; 4-player cooperative multiplayer; 4-vs-4 multiplayer
Zombie killing has become fun again; One of the best multiplayer experiences to date; Fantastic visuals and audio; Entertaining cast of four unique survivors; Many different multiplayer modes; Almost endless amount of replay value; Satisfying gameplay
Rather short campaign; Lack of a plot; Poor weapon selection; Single player experience is not enough to satisfy anyone
Have you ever longed for the perfect zombie game? Many of us have, and Valve has done the best job thus far. Left 4 Dead is the latest IP from the well-respected developer/publisher, and it is one of the greatest multiplayer experiences to date. The company has made zombie-killing a truly fun and thrilling process again with this outstanding shooter.
Left 4 Dead doesn’t disappoint in the presentation value. With gorgeous scenery taking place all at night, one feels as if they really are in the game. In levels that have a larger emphasis on vegetation and foliage, the trees and other green plants look extremely life-like, even as you transition to an entirely different area, such as a factory. Left 4 Dead has so many environments that it is clear the developers spent time working on their graphics. If they had not done everything in their power, the game would look stretched and random. You often travel from one environment to a completely different one, which requires a great deal of graphical power and accent.
The four characters in the game are easy to distinguish, too. Valve picked four different designs that were easy to differentiate, which is greatly needed in a game such as this. With dozens of zombies rushing at you from all sides, it’s comforting to know where and who your teammates are. Although there are no cut-scenes in the game, the characters’ facial expressions and body movements are expertly performed. Just the fact that Valve spent the time to add in the minute details shows their extreme amounts of effort and care for the game. The weapons, additionally, look absolutely fantastic. I simply cannot stress the amount of detail in this game.
My only problem that I have with the graphics is when the survivors are in the safe room. Everything looks great; except for the writing on the wall. Yes, the humorous written notes and scratches on the wall provide the player with a little laughter in between levels, but they can be hard to see occasionally. And when you move closer to the wall to get a better glimpse, the words become even more pixilated and blurry, and it’s quite disappointing, due to the fact that sometimes I actually could not read some of the smaller-sized words and statements.
The voice acting in the game is what gives the characters life. Due to the absence of cut-scenes, all lines are spoken during combat. The voices for all four survivors are done completely perfectly, in a hilarious yet realistic manner. The script is absolutely brilliant, as the four characters’ lines and words all fit the situation nicely, and give the characters an unforgettable personality.
The story in Left 4 Dead is by far the game’s weakest attribute. The opening cinema reveals that the game’s first campaign (there are four total) takes place approximately two weeks after the zombie outbreak. However, there is literally no explanation as to how or why everyone is turning into the undead, or how the survivors met each other, or, for that matter, how there are infinite piles of ammunition and weapons. Now, I realize that all this was done, for the most part, on purpose. The game’s focus is not at all on story or plot, but rather on gameplay. Although it really would have been great of Valve to do a little bit of explaining on their part.
Left 4 Dead’s four campaigns take place in completely different areas, and there is literally no transition between them. The survivors are rescued at the end of every campaign, only to find themselves in need of help once more, somewhere else. I understand this was intentional, but this just seems a little lazy on Valve’s part.
The actually story for all four campaigns consist of you getting your ass to each safe zone. Every campaign has five levels, with a safe house at the end of each level, excluding the fifth level in which you’re rescued. The four survivors must shoot and maul their way through hordes of zombies until they get to the end of their journey and are safe. It’s an incredibly weak plot, but it works for this type of game.
“Gameplay” is the most crucial part to any game. It’s what the developers set out to accomplish, and gameplay is what their end result was. It’s the controls, how you play the game, and all the features that are a part of it.
Left 4 Dead is, as you should know, a shooter. A first-person shooter, to be more precise. The objective of the game is to shoot your way through hundreds of zombies, and finding the right path to proceed down. You can accomplish this by using a total of six weapons. Unfortunately, the weapons used in the game are extremely generic guns with no outstanding features, and you will certainly be bored and disappointed by the selection. The game first offers you a shotgun, submachine gun, and a handgun. Yes, that really is it. The shotgun is great for blowing away bundles of zombies as they run towards you, or for picking up a quick straggler behind you. The submachine gun can be used for all situations and is an all-around strong gun. The handguns, you must know, have an unlimited amount of ammo. They never run out. In fact, if you ever find another one of them you can dual wield the pistols (also with unlimited ammunition). While this is quite convenient, it makes the game rather easy when you run out of ammunition for larger weapons, it does feel very cheap at some points in the game. There are also “upgraded” weapons that one will find towards the end of certain levels, or near the end of campaigns. These include the auto shotgun, assault rifle, and the hunting rifle. All three of these weapons are better than the previous two by tenfold. They take fewer shots to kill your enemies, reload faster, hold more ammo, and are perfect for fighting off the hordes. Most importantly, they are ridiculously fun to use and enjoyable to wield. Now, besides these weapons are the hand-tossed weapons. These include the pipe bomb, which draws zombies into it only to explode as they all pack in tight; and the Molotov cocktail, which will set the ground ablaze in a flame that deals heavy damage to enemies and teammates alike.
The game is available in four difficulties: Easy, Normal, Advanced, and Expert. As you travel from one difficulty to the next, you’ll notice a couple differences. First, the infected deal more and more damage to the survivors as the difficulty increases and the survivors will be more susceptible to friendly fire. It’s worth noting that across all four difficulty levels, the infected never have an increase in health.
As you receive more and more damage, your health bar will become less and less filled. As this happens, your character will become slower, and the display will even turn black and white. Additionally, the survivors will spew out the same few sayings multiple times, such as: “I ain’t gonna make it.” These become increasingly annoying as you struggle to find some health, but hopefully you will not be in this situation frequently.
To regain your lost health, one may use health packs or pills. Both items can be used to heal either yourself or your teammates. The health pack will give the recipient eighty health points, while the pills only temporarily boost your health. A couple minutes after using the bottle of pills, your health will be at the same level it was before they were used. When your health reaches zero, you will begin to bleed out. You have about a minute and a half (if no infected attack you) for your teammates to heal you until you permanently die. If one bleeds out more than three times they will go into spectator mode and watch the others play. They cannot rejoin until the other players reach the end of the level.
Besides the common infected, there are the “boss” infected, larger zombies. These are the Witch, Tank, Boomer, Hunter, and Smoker. The Witch will be found in dark areas in levels, and you will be notified of her presence by some eerie music that plays, and the Witch herself crying. If you startle a Witch (with your flashlight and shooting at/shooting near her) she will give out a scream, jump on top of you and start clawing away. Oh, and the infected horde will come. Try to avoid these at all times. The Tank is a massive zombie, teeming with muscles. This monster will charge at you fearlessly, and you’ll need a full arsenal and great teamwork to take him down. The Boomer is an outrageously fat infected. If you shoot it close enough it’ll vomit all over you, hazing your view for a minute. Also, when he explodes on you, the horde comes out. The Hunter is a dark, hooded infected that is extremely quick on its feet. It has the ability to leap from wall to wall, and can travel swiftly. If it manages to tackle you, the Hunter will claw at your face until a survivor kicks him off of you. Finally, the Smoker in a boss infected with a tongue that can reach to about fifty feet away. If it grabs you with it, the Hunter will start dragging you towards him, leaving you wide open. Teammates can help shoot the Hunter or the directly to set you free. All of the special infected require the help of all four teammates to be defeated.
Left 4 Dead has four campaigns: No Mercy, Blood Harvest, Dead Air, and Death Toll. Each campaign has five levels to complete, and successfully finishing all four will take someone approximately four to six hours, depending on the difficulty and whom they are playing with. This may concern some gamers, due to the fact that this is a very short length, especially during modern times. Luckily, if you have online, this game can last you almost forever.
The game revolves around the multiplayer function. During the campaign, the team of four survivors (Zoey, Louis, Francis, and Bill) will always remain with you. You will always be able to find your teammates, too, due to the blue outline that surrounds them everywhere. The single player experience pales in comparison to the multiplayer’s. Playing with three AI bots simply doesn’t give you the thrill and excitement of playing with a full team. Additionally, campaigns are so quick and simple that it is easy and fulfilling to replay them many times.
Besides online multiplayer in the campaign, Valve offers the gamer even more options. Versus mode is an extremely addictive and fun multiplayer mode that pits four survivors against four boss-infected. Four players will take control of the four survivors from the campaign and battle their through a level, defeating common infected in the process. The other four players can take the form of a Hunter, Smoker, Tank, or Boomer. Playing as the infected brings an amazing twist to the gameplay, and is a truly awesome experience. All the four infected take a little bit of getting used to, but it’s nothing you won’t master quickly enough. Besides Versus, there is the free, downloadable Survival mode. This mode may remind some of Call of Duty: World at War’s Nazi Zombies feature. Up to four players can play. The survivors find themselves defending from an endless infected horde, and they will need to take cover wherever they can, and use a great deal of teamwork. This mode is a pleasing add-on that players will spend hours on. The online multiplayer will is an exceptionally entertaining function of the game, and I strongly recommend that everyone tries it out.
Left 4 Dead is the first game in what will surely be a hugely successful series. Having already sold almost three million units on the Xbox 360 alone, it is clear to how incredible the game really is. With fantastic visuals, stunning replay value, hilarious characters, and all-around addictiveness, this game earns its position as one of the greatest zombie games ever created, and one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games ever released. Left 4 Dead provides you with an amazing experience, one that I will certainly not forget any time soon.
Graphics – 9/10
Audio – 9/10
Story – 7/10
Gameplay – 10/10
Replayability – 10/10
Final Score – 9
Supported OS: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / Vista64
Processor: Pentium 4 3.0GHz, Dual Core 2.0, or AMD64X2 (or higher)
Memory: 1GB for XP / 2GB for Vista
Disc Drive: DVD-ROM Drive
Graphics: 128 MB, Shader model 2.0, ATI 9600, NVidia 6600 or better
Hard Drive: At least 7.5 GB of free space
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Cieply - Reviewer http://computergameandconsolereviews.com/ Currently I work for Computer Game and Console Reviews, and I enjoy games from classic platformers to modern first-person shooters. Visit the site now!