Left 4 Dead (Windows)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  StorytellerShannon (19)
Written on  :  Mar 19, 2011
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars4.71 Stars

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The Good

Arguably the best FPS for its year. L4D is one of those games that punishes you if you try to be a lone wolf and go out by yourself. In fact, one of the many strengths of this game is that you live or die by your team and the weakest teammate can even be a liability (because you're always saving them or they're not covering their corners or they're using all the team healing resources up). No matter how good you are at this game you can still get capped by a Special (i.e. something tougher than a zombie) and the only way to be saved is by one of your teammates. Additionally, it's almost impossible to do the finales by yourself (especially on any difficulties above normal) so, again, I like that the team is vital to the success of the mission. Weapon selections are tiered as you progress through the campaigns (which vary in length from half an hour to many hours, especially if you die and keep repeating chapters) and there are nice goodies to help you against the zombie hordes such as Molotov Cocktails, pipe bombs, gas cans, propane tanks, oxygen tanks but none of these matter much if you don't follow one of the cardinal rules of positioning yourself strategically. This is a game that also rewards you for positioning your team in the most strategic positions when you are attacked by random zombie hoards or at various chapter finales. In fact, if you aren't very good at protecting your teammates and putting your back to a solid wall when the hordes come, well, you probably shouldn't be playing on advanced difficulty and certainly not the unforgiving expert level. Healing resources are limited to health packs and pills and in the higher difficulties there's never enough. In fact, sometimes it makes sense to let a few teammates die so that the others can make it to the safe house chapter where everyone who died spawns for the next chapter. That way, you don't all have to die and repeat the chapter. If someone died soon enough in a particular chapter they respawn in one of the many closets up ahead but a teammate has to "rescue" you. Spawned characters start at moderate health and lose some of their resources, especially a favorite main weapon.

But the real pleasure of this game is the multiplayer. In fact, if you don't MP your gaming experience may dwindle after a time. Yes, it's true that the director of this game changes elements even if you play the same campaign over and over with the bots but the dynamics of playing with real people and not just bots throws in so many variables. Weaker players will make the campaign harder and sometimes that can be fun. Stronger players will make it easier and they'll also show you tricks that you're unlikely to read in the cheat books. In fact, chances are good that you'll start to have favorites that you like to play with regularly and as you get to know your particular team better you will react better to them when they need help. Compare that to when you play with new people for the first time, even if you all have microphones for faster communication. Other nice things about MP (at least, on Steam which is my experience) is that you can do different types of coop scenarios that fans have created. They're free to download. If you're tired of the same maps this can be a lot of fun. Additionally, if you want something different they have survival games in which a group holds out for as long as possible but the real attraction, if you want something different, is the versus games. Each side takes turns playing the Specials and try to stop the other team from reaching the safe house. Victory points are all determined by how far the survivors have gotten, how much damage was inflicted on them, whether health packs were used or not and several other variables. Interestingly, people who are very good at coop games are usually not very good at versus games as its a totally different beast.

In closing this is an awesome game for FPS fans, especially if you want an action horror video game. Unlike a lot of other video games the achievements are unique and sometimes entertaining. A nice thing about them is that you get to show them off to your friends on Steam. These days I typically look to whether a particular player has achieved the expert status achievement. If they have then I know they're likely going to be a tight player.BTW, playing this on Steam and other multiplayer sites make this a lot harder than your Xbox. A couple of friends who played it on the Xbox jumped on to Steam with me and couldn't even handle normal difficulty until they practiced some. Just a fair warning.

MUSIC/SOUND: A minus ; EASE OF CONTROLS/USES: A minus to A ; GRAPHICS FOR ITS YEAR: A; DIALOGUE/VOICE ACTING/CHARACTERS: B to B plus (even though it's limited as to be expected for a FPS); ATMOSPHERE: A to A plus; REPLAY POTENTIAL A to A plus (on MP); GENRE: Horror Action Adventure; OVERALL GRADE: A minus to A.

The Bad

Sometimes the AI survivors don't come to your rescue fast enough and you suffer for it. Worse, they won't come to a certain place for defense at chapter finales unless you call them about nine times and even then it doesn't always work.

Some argue that there should be melee weapons and that was remedied in #2 but I think it's fine the way it is.

The Bottom Line

Read the title and get it!