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Left 4 Dead (Windows)

88
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  MasterMegid (897)
Written on  :  Feb 15, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Summary

"When There Is No More Room Left In Hell, The Dead Will Walk The Earth"

The Good

Could I survive a zombie apocalypse? That is a question that has bugged me for a long time. I’m like the philosophers of old wasting time, that could be better spent, and never coming up with any definite answers. But unlike them, I can now prove if I could survive. With the zombie apocalypse simulator, that is video-game, Left 4 Dead.(It’s a play on words, get it?-MM-)

Zombie games have seen a resurgence lately. Or at least it seems that way. What with Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, and the upcoming Dead Island. And as a zombie enthusiast, I am loving it, but a multiplayer zombie game? Can that possibly work?

“Don’t use that zed word, because it’s so ridiculous.” -Shaun Of The Dead-

The story is very light in Left 4 Dead. Basically, you team up with three other survivors. Whom mysteriously are immune to the outbreak. Each survivor has their own back story but I won’t go into that here. The object of the game, is to get to the safe room at the end of the map. And kill as many infected as possible.(Yes, they are referred to as “infected” instead of zombies, at least most of the time.-MM-)

Along the way there are weapons to collect, guns, pipe bombs, etc. Pills and health kits to use. And aside from the hundreds of infected, there are also special infected. The Smoker for example is a large infected that creeps around and uses his tongue to grab fellow survivors. If he gets one you must free them or they will die. And one less fighter in the game can be trouble. There are also hunters these little bastards are very fast, and will pounce, and slash you.

There are other ways you can help your fellow survivors. If they fall you can rescue them, heal them, or just provide them cover fire, to get out of a precarious situation. Just like in the classic zombie movies, if you are a jackass and do not help your teammates you will all die.(Maybe that’s why this game is not on PS3, only uncooperative idiots, with more money than sense, own one of those.-MM-)

There is a great deal of replay value in LFD. As each game will differ. For example one game session you may see lots of hunter type infected other times, almost none. The monster placement is completely random.

And as Valve wonderfully demonstrated in The Orange Box.(No not the new detergent, the awesome Half-life 2 set.-MM-) Achievements don’t have to be bland, like “finish the game”. They can be cleaver and take skill, and sometimes luck to attain. For example, the achievement, “Unbreakable”, is earned by never being healed during an entire campaign. It will take a good deal of your skill and maybe some luck to unlock it. Thus making you feel as if you actually did achieve something. And also like the aforementioned Orange Box, PC gamers, and not just Xbox gamers both get to get in on the fun.

When you play online, your team consists of other human players. You can also play Co-Op with just two humans, and A.I. doing the rest. There is also a very cool mode in which one side plays as survivors and one side plays as infected. Playing as an infected is a little different. Your only goal is to kill as many survivors as possible. If they escape they win, if not the infected win.

If you have no friends, don’t trust people you don’t know, or hate everyone, or your girlfriend/boyfriend is not cool and does not like videogames, fear not. Because in Left 4 Dead, you can play alone, with the A.I. And considering how effective they can be who needs friends? There are a few things that the A.I. cannot do but more on that later.

“Oh no a cabin in the woods. I know how this movie ends.”-LFD-

The graphics are good. LFD, uses the Counter-Strike Source Engine. Which is starting to show it’s age. So while the visuals won’t blow your mind, they are hardly poor.

Like any good horror based game, the sound effects are quite good. The guns all sound appropriate. As do the blood-curdling screams of the infected. And each special infected has there own unique cry. Cueing the player into what is ahead. The character voices are well done also. I also liked the little dialogue between them. As the quote above exemplifies they are often quite humorous.

There is not much music to speak of. Except for the incidental music that cues when there is something to be wary of up ahead.

The Bad

I wish the zombies were more Romeroesque.(Yeah that’s right I just made up a word, so what, wanna fight about it?-MM-) In other words, I think that I would have preferred the slower, Night Of The Living Dead, classic zombies to the fast ones that can climb, etc.

Of course I can see why the game has the faster variety zombie. As the slow classic ones would make the game too easy. At least the Romeroesque, the zombies are only dangerous in large groups thing is still present in the game.

The A.I. cannot use bombs. But what’s worse is that sometimes they take forever to come to your aid. Which can cause you your life. More often than not they act intelligently. Which make the times they don’t that much more disappointing.

There are some minor glitches here and there as well. One that comes to mind in the blood glitch, as I call it. When pounced by a hunter, if you kill it fast enough, the blood will still flow from where you were. Like some kind of temporal anomaly.

More campaigns would be nice. Hopefully they are working on some as I write this. And I hope they are free, not extra. Either via, Steam, or Xbox Live.

A more in depth single player campaign would have been sweet. It could have you choose your survivor and then have you play out the scenario of how the escaped and met up with the others. Like the great Half-life mod, They Hunger. Sans, the wacky humor of course.

The Bottom Line

Left 4 Dead, is one of the best non MMORPG multiplayer games to come out in long time. Could you survive the zombie apocalypse? Now, thanks to Left 4 Dead, I know I could.