Left 4 Dead

Official Website

Having pre-purchased Valve’s upcoming zombie blast fest, I’ve been happy enough to delve into the demo’s early access for the past few days. I followed the game quite closely already, but I can safely say that I was not prepared for quite this level of awesomeness. From the fantastic intro video and the way the demo’s available levels thrust me on the same rooftop the cut scene ended with, to the surprising quality of the real time shadowing my flashlight caused from my surroundings, the game screamed of polish even before I met my first enemies.

And boy did those enemies make a difference! Being a fan of zombie movies like 28 Days Later, I easily recognized the animations as the hordes moved with an equal level of realism and agility. They climbed fences, jumped over obstacles and viciously clawed their way through my squad in ways no other games ever attempted to represent. Even better, the ragdoll and animations system rarely made a dud as the death sequences and poses were far more realistic than in most games which employ a pure ragdoll system.

Meeting the first boss characters was quite the spectacle. Most of them, like the Boomer (fat guy), Hunter (pouncer) and Smoker (frog tongue), died quite easily but their effectiveness depended on the situation - which they often seemed to choose wisely. I often made the mistake of killing a Boomer right around a corner, causing his goo to envelop my whole squad as a horde of zombies came rushing to our location, enticed by what I can only imagine was a sweet aroma to them. Having a Hunter or Smoker appear in a similar situation could cause the death of a member as the zombie horde stopped us from reaching our friend fast enough for a successful rescue.

The two other bosses, the Tank and the Witch, were the most formidable opponents. The massive tank often dispatched my whole squad with a combination of lethal close range attacks and long range throwing of heavy objects, while it was even more effective if the available maneuver space was limited. The Witch on the other hand, if disturbed, had incredible agility and would most certainly kill at least one of my mates before either being put down, or escaping to never disturb us again.

These are only the bare basics though, while the devil is in the details, of which most were perfectly implemented and balanced. From the way the death system worked, giving me the chance to rescue my friends before they get put down for good, to the healing mechanics and, impressively, the way a zombie horde could be lured onto a pipe bomb and explode in spectacular blood cloud fashion, the gameplay was an equal amount of exciting, empowering and, when the bosses or menacing hordes appeared, truly panic inducing.

I’ll leave you by saying that I can easily see why Valve feel so confident with their creation, enough to claim it is their best game yet and fund their most extensive advertising campaign. I honestly believe that, what Sven Coop used to be for the Half-Life community, Left 4 Dead can become for all of the gaming world. Keep in mind you may still pre-purchase the game with a 10% discount and experience the demo before the public November 11 launch. The full game will hit Steam and store shelves on November 18 so there’s still some waiting to do, but the demo’s two levels, so easily and enjoyably replayable, will help tide you over. I hope you’ll excuse me for now, more zombie blasting has to be done you see.

Official Website

Sounds like this could be a lot of fun in co-op, I’ll definitely try the demo tomorrow.

The demo should be available for everyone today, either on Steam for PC or XBLA for the 360. You all should try it out and I’m sure that a few playthroughs will convince you to purchase it. I’d recommend it for PC as it’s bound to get a good custom content community going, you wouldn’t want to have to pay for it when it eventually reaches the 360. It should run fine on any PC that could play Half-Life 2 in 2004, but look considerably better for newer systems (ie the dynamic shadows).

Nobody wants to even try it? It’s really one of the best coop experiences yet.

Well I played a few games, but I can’t say I noticed anything revolutionary about the gameplay. First of all the difficulty seems way too easy at the moment so anything except for Expert just doesn’t give enough challenge to a team of real players. For that reason the first games I played were rather boring, it just came down to mindlessly blasting wave after wave of zombies which required little or no teamwork. On Expert things became more interesting, since your team can actually die if they just rush into things which automatically forces people to work together. I guess I’ll play the demo a bit more before deciding whether or not the full game is worth buying.

Expert is the way to play, the other difficulty modes seem to just be there for complete FPS newcomers (since the game will get their most extensive advertising to date). It’s still not punishingly hard on expert but that’s only 1.5 maps (the 2nd is cut before the normal end) out of a 5 map campaign and you still get pretty worn down by then.

Unimaginative title is unimaginative.

Played the demo, seemed like a shell of a game really.

Go here, kill zombies, go there, kill zombies, copy and paste. There was no real survival horror aspect of it that I saw.
Oh and when will people learn :< in an FPS style where the game is mainly laid out in small corridors, for the love of the ancients, don’t put in friendly fire. It was almost impossible not to shoot my group.

Yeah, I just didn’t see anything special about. One of my least favourite games on my 360 is Rainbow Six Vegas and I’d rather play that with friends than Left 4 Dead.

Maybe you and your friends need to be more careful rather than ask for friendly fire to be off. Shooting through your friends will only make it more shallow and lessen the impact of working together. Try crouching if you are in the front row to give a clear shot to people behind you and have one of you cover the back rather than all attempt to shoot in one direction if the area is really that tight (though often it’s not). Bosses can pop up anywhere after all and having someone dedicated to spotting them before they attack can help. Also shove enemies away from your friends before shooting them to not risk friendly fire. Also don’t play on the easier difficulty settings since that takes away from the game and you can simply steamroll through anything it throws at you without trying. Bots are no replacement for friends either since they’re too good in certain things and too bad in others.

What kind of survival did you want? Resident Evil puzzles? That would hardly fit a game like this, not to mention solving them would only be fun once. You need to be careful around bosses, you need to manage ammo with certain weapons (SMGs can easily run out if you waste ammo, while you can’t do without them if you want effective crowd control), you need to look around for useful items (which aren’t always in the same place) and use them at the right time rather than waste them somewhere they’re not much use, you need to try and stick together to avoid getting someone killed by a boss or by putting a horde of zombies between your members, you can use doors effectively to delay enemies or make them easier targets, bosses need to be distracted off of each other before killing someone for good, and the AI director ensures things don’t always go smoothly and events that mess up your previously effective way of playing can happen, while also making no two playthroughs the same.

We can also assume the game does get more challenging since this is 1.5 maps out of a 5 map campaign out of 4 initial campaigns, while different campaigns have different styles which offer different challenges being even tighter (hospitals) or more open (cornfields).

Anyway, it’s not a contender to best tactical FPS or deepest online RPG or something. It’s a cooperative shoot em up, and it kinda sorta works with fun main mechanics and the simple fact cooperation is key, as shallow as it seems, since one person alone can certainly not complete even one level.

Also, Rainbow Six is just go here and shoot terrorists and go there and shoot terrorists if that’s how you’re going to describe games really… I prefer SWAT anyway :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d comment further on the demo, but it’s just too buggy for me to really form an opinion on the demo. Half of the time I get the sound loop crash which a lot of people are complaining about and I have to alt-tab to Task Manager to close the game. If not that it’s a crash to desktop. Seeing how the game is planned for release in a few days I doubt these problems will be fixed in the official release.

First time I hear of the issue. Anything to do with multi GPUs perhaps? If so, try disabling it for this game since single GPU should be enough to run it on max settings anyway. If not, oh well, no game works on all setups. Too bad you’re one of the “lucky” ones.

Yeah, I did say Rainbow Six was one of my least favourite games for 360. :stuck_out_tongue:

About friendly fire, we had a bot with us and they just take up the hallway you’re trying to shoot down so half the time I had a choice of standing and waiting or just shooting him and hoping I wouldn’t kill him. Even human players had trouble. I mean, they’re fast zombies and sometimes they came from round a corner or up some stairs, organising a zulu approach in a tight corridor…I found we really didn’t have the time.

And I guess my opinion of the “survival horror” aspect was based on the difficulty. I never even got close to running low on ammo, we just walked our way through and the game wasn’t…scary I guess. It didn’t really seem to try to be. Maybe it wasn’t aiming to be but the “horror” part of survival horror would usually suggest otherwise.

It’s just a demo so I can’t make solid opinions on it but a demo should grab you and make you want to buy the full game and it doesn’t do that for me.

Personally, I don’t think a game should start getting good on expert, generally a higher difficulty just offers a bigger challenge and reason to be able to enjoy the game again.
But yeah maybe that’s how this game rolls.

Seems people are split on it, some people love it, some people don’t, it’s marmite of recent games.