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Jan 2009 14

Game Review: Left 4 Dead

Games Review

Left 4 Dead

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of zombie thrillers, so I was hesitant about picking up the latest game from Valve; Left 4 Dead.  I just don't really get why people like zombies so much.. there seems to be a glut of zombie stories and games of late.. and let's be honest, most stories, games, and movies that feature the oddly loved zombie all portray them in a similar light;  mindless undead husks of their former selves all wandering around looking for "braiiiins"..

Not really sure why zombies want brains but by god they do!   All zombies that is except those in left 4 dead.  Thankfully Turtle Rock Studios, the original developers of L4D made a decision fairly early on that their zombies wouldn't be wandering around aimlessly looking for that oh so delectiable grey matter but rather, they just want to kill you.  Fair enough, considering you play through the game as one of four "survivors" who's only mission is to cure the zombie plague, one bullet at a time.  Turn abouts fair play I say.

After playing the first campaign through (it comes with 4) and partly though the second one, I have to admit I'm fairly impressed with the game.  At it's heart it's your standard first person shooter, though a first person shooter with extremely limited weapon choices..  I can forgive that though especially once you realize how much is going on in the game, and how the game changes as you play it.  More over, play the same level again and the game will be different each time -- I get ahead of myself..

Team Fortress Zombie -- The game focuses on team play but much of that team play is lost in the single player campaigns.  The AI bots simply can't work with you in the way that another human could, instead they just act as hangers-on and ablative gun drones.

The real fun of the game comes when you play in one of the two multi-player modes;  campaign or versus.  The multi-player campaign mode is you playing through the entire campaign with 3 other humans..  The team play is very well done in that you can actually see an outline of one another through the walls of the map which is way better than some screen cluttering HUD or mini map that you have to pay attention to..  Stay together, stay alert.. stay alive.

It's too bad that you always end up with one player who likes to rush off and die.  I assume that's what they want to do, because that's what they always do.  This isn't your typical bunny-hopping FPS game that you can just blaze through.  If you get separated from your team mates, you're gonna be eaten.  Either way, it's still a pretty fun game when doing the multi-player campaign..

And as much fun as it is, it's not anywhere near as fun as the versus mode.

In the multi-player versus mode you join a server with 7 other people, 4 of you will be the survivors for one round and 4 of you will be spawned as random infected.  This ends up being a point game in that it's pretty rare the survivors actually make it out alive.. You just try to do more points to the enemy than they do to you..  It's a lot of fun and again, teamwork is the key.  For both sides.

All in all I am pretty impressed with the game.  The server sizes never get bigger than 8 players so lag is hardly ever an issue.. I was playing on a server in France earlier today and didn't notice any lag and didn't know the server location until the guys started speaking French which got me curious..

All in all I have to say this game gets 4.5 out of 5 stars for me..  It has very few cons..  The game has infinite replayability as each time you play it the procedural narrative system called simply "the director" changes everything based on who and how you're playing.

My main complains are few but here they are;

  • No save game feature in single player mode.
  • Limited weapon choices.
  • Team AI is very limiting and even poor when playing harder games

I think the game's biggest failing is its lack of weapons.. I want more guns, flame throwers, grenades, bombs, etc...

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