The lights are on
"It’s the zombie apocalypse. Bring friends..."
This was the original marketing campaign for Left 4 Dead.
As the epidemic spreads four strangers; Francis, Bill, Louis, and Zoey,
find themselves in the awkward position of having to trust each other
and work together in order to survive. You'll play as one of them
against the nightmare hordes that await. From legendary developer Valve,
Left 4 Dead is probably the most fun I’ve had with any game in the last several years...
At it's heart, Left 4 Dead is really a spoof on every crappy,
B-grade zombie movie ever made, right down to the cheesy posters (which
are hilarious by the way). It doesn’t really have a ‘story’ per se.
Instead there are four different levels or maps, each lasting about an
follow the same basic zombie movie cliche: survive at all costs until
you can be rescued. Each level is treated like its own movie. While they
don't have a cohesive story in any traditional sense, it’s perfectly
okay. Like most bad zombie movies, we’re not here for the plot, we're
here for the zombies.
Standing between you and rescue are, of course, the walking undead. Lots and lots of zombies. These are not the zombies from Night of the Living Dead. They are not slow shamblers risen from graves. No, these are the fast buggers from such movies as Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later.
Sprinters who attack in veritable hordes once they have noticed you!
But it turns out you have more to face during the zombie apocalypse than
just your standard run of the mill "Braaaaaaaaains!" zombies, no matter
how fast they are. They've evolved...
There are different classes of 'Super' zombies to contend with in Left 4 Dead.
One is the Hunter, who has an annoying habit of can pouncing on his
victims from distance and ravaging them before help arrives. The Boomer
is a huge fat *** who waddles around before puking all over you.
Sound nasty? It is... but there is a bigger problem. If you get covered
in the vile bile it draws zombies towards you like bees to honey, or
perhaps more appropriately, to rotting meat. If you hear the gurgling of
a nearby boomer, be on your guard. The Smoker has a super long tongue
it can use to grab you and draw you away from the group. As you struggle
helplessly any nearby zombies can have a snack at their leisure. It’s
only when you hear someone cry "Help, I’m being dragged away!" do you
realize what’s happened. Actually, it's more like "Sh*t!" followed by
either "Smoker's got me!" or "Hunter's on me!" or "Boomer got me!" or
the worst call of all.... "TAAAAAAAAAANK!!!!!!!!!"
There are the two ‘Boss’ classes. These appear less frequently, but are
always major battles. The first is the Tank. His appearance is proceeded
by a foreboding musical jingle, then a roar! It’s brown trousers time,
and then, there... he... is! He’s big, he’s fast and he’s tough. One can
hit can knock you across the street. You’ll need the whole team working
together to survive. He will usually focus on one target, and while
that poor soul is getting pummeled, the others need to be ready to pour
insane amounts of lead into him to bring the behemoth down!
there is the Witch. She's a b*tch. You will hear her, moaning and
weeping to herself. In a clever twist, Valve designed it so that Witches
are avoidable. If you hear one, turn off your flashlights (light will
draw her attention) and proceed cautiously. When you spot her she’s
usually sitting, rocking back and forth, moaning and crying. Skirt
around her and maybe, just maybe, you can avoid confrontation. But there
are times when she'll be placed right in your path, or
you stumble across her drawing her ire... and then she attacks! She’ll
come at you, skin and bones, glowing eyes, and huge, lethal nails like
talons, screeching like a Nazgul from the Lord of the Rings. One
hit from her and you are down. Like the Tank, the Witch takes teamwork
and strategy to survive, especially if stealth is not an option.
To combat these menaces you are armed with your choice of either an
assault rifle, shotgun, or hunting rifle. But I feel I need to impress
upon you, gentle reader, just how many bloody zombies can come at you at
once. You will find yourself running out of ammo, there are
simply too many. Fortunately, Valve gives you a pistol with unlimited
ammo, so you'll always have something to fall back on.
I doubt Left 4 Dead would have been nearly as successful were it not for the excellent controls. They need to be since the zombies are so quick and attack en masse. Right
trigger fires your weapon, left is melee to get the buggers off if they
get too close. Um, 'B' is reload. That's pretty much it. Okay, there
are more controls, but they are easy to learn. Despite being a hectic and frantic battle for survival, it's surprisingly accessible. Pick it up and go play. Oh, and bring some friends...
... because teamwork is the name of the game in Left 4 Dead.
You might think that with it being the zombie apocalypse and all that
the rules no longer apply. For the most part this is true, but there is
one thing you need to remember to survive: stick together! If you leave
the safety of the group, consider yourself a zombie entree. This game
was designed specifically to be played as a group with people
communicating as they fight for survival. Trust me, you need to keep
your teammates informed of your situation. But if you're stuck playing
with computer controlled survivors, I'm happy to say the ally AI is
pretty good if lacking some initiative that you'd find with, you know,
I haven't yet mentioned the technical aspects of Left 4 Dead. It has pretty decent graphics, but they aren't anything special. Then again, they don't have to be. This is one of those quantity over quality situations. They are effective enough to scare you, and that's all that matters. The action is so hectic in this game you can't really tell what is going on half the time anyway.
That's okay though, that frantic atmosphere is what makes it so great!
This is enhanced by the sound work. The survivors banter back and forth
with each other when there isn't an immediate threat, but will call out
if they hear any of the aural cues from the super zombies. The howls of the hordes, the scream of the Hunter, the roar of the Tank keep you on edge the entire time. Still freaks me out, especially after a few drinks, when the tension is at its most fervent. Left 4 Dead captures the horror better than most zombie movies!
you do survive one these "movies" you are treated to end credits which
go over all the stats from that game. It's fun to see who had the most
zombie kills, who used the most health packs, or my personal favorite:
friendly fire. I win that one every time (I just shoot at anything that
moves, even my teammates...)! There is even an "In Memoriam" for those
that didn't make it! It ends with the total number of "zombies harmed in
the making of this film." Priceless.
In fact, there’s not much to complain about with Left 4 Dead.
The fact that there are only two sets of weapons, the second being a
slight upgrade is a bit disappointing. It would have been nice to have
more options. Same with the levels themselves. The four that are
available are great, don't get me wrong, but after you've played them
dozens of times you hanker for something more. Sometimes it feels a bit
recycled but that's no big deal, this is still the go to game in our
house when we don’t have anything else we’d rather be playing.
Fortunately, Left 4 Dead 2 (review coming shortly) addresses these minor grievances.
While the lack of variety in both missions and weapons may handicap Left 4 Dead
a bit, it's more than made up for by the variable spawn system Valve
has created. It’s ingenious. Since it’s a fairly small game they have
set it up so that every time you play it through, it’s different.
The zombies respawn in different areas. Where there was a tank that
bashed the snot out you last time, this time there might not be one.
Weapon stashes might be in different places. I played a level recently
where there were five tanks and three witches! We kept looking at each
other saying, "What the hell? Did we accidentally change the difficulty
level?" But the next time we played that level it was completely
different, and it will be different the next time as well. That's the
beauty of this system, it makes the game infinitely replayable (or close to it).
you’ve read any of my other reviews you probably know by now that I
don’t play games online very often. This is a huge handicap for me,
especially in this case. While I realize what I’m missing out on, I do
need me sleep, my job and my girlfriend. But of all the games that I
wish I had time to play online, Left 4 Dead tops the list. More than Halo? More than Call of Duty? Yes, without a doubt. Why? Because if you get online in Left 4 Dead
you can play as the zombies! Um, yes please. From everything I have
read this eight player online versus mode sounds like a riot!
Left 4 Dead is
one of those rare games that I know I'll never sell. I can play this by
myself late at night if I don't want to spend too much time, or am too
drunk, to do anything more constructive than kill zombies by the
controls are easy to pick up, and with a little practice you can have a
complete noob over for some zombie killing mayhem. While I've played
these four maps over more times than I'd care to admit, I know I'll keep
going back to them because they are that good. My girlfriend is
awesome for many reasons, but one thing I love is if she's had a rough
week and I ask her what she wants to do, she’ll say "Let’s play Left 4 Dead! I need to kill some zombies!" It turns out that the zombie apocalypse has a silver lining!
374/400 = 93.5% =
Final Score of 93.5
the time of posting, 26897 zombies had been harmed playing of this game
by yours truly. Now assume I kill an average of four hundred or so each
time I play a level. Do the math. I've played Left 4 Dead that many times. And I will continue to do so, it's that much fun. I don't think I can give any better praise than that...
P.S. Want to read more reviews? Go to Game Over... continue?!
No one has commented on this article.