Since it’s release on November 18, 2008 Left 4 Dead has been a sensational hit on every platform it was available on, especially PC. Named “Best Game of The Year” by IGN and also winning “The Computer Game of the Year” from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS), Left 4 Dead has shot, hacked, and disembowled its way through hordes of undead to the top of the gaming world. However, what is it that makes this zombie shooter such a success? Here at Gamer Syndrome we are going to explore this question and more.
Left 4 Dead is an addictive co-operative survival game that lets players fight for their lives in a high adrenaline horror movie environment. Developed by Valve and supported by Steam online, Left 4 Dead has been built from the ground up with co-operative gameplay in mind. There is very little plot, and only one real cinematic, but the gameplay has been developed to such a degree that these components are rather insignificant and minor.
The game features four characters, Bill, the retired Vietnam veteran, Francis, the rugged tatooed biker, Louis, an IT technician clad in shirt and tie, and Zoey, the lovable college student. These four characters differ only in appearance, and choosing between them is really only a matter of preference. Left 4 Dead features four mini “campaigns” in the form of cheezy movie titles that presented in the loading screen, a nice touch that ads to the horror movie theme. Each campaign takes the four players from a starting point to an eventual evacuation point via boat, helicopter, or APC with intermitent “safe rooms” in between for players to take a quick break and stock up on supplies.
The gameplay itself is rather simple, if brilliant and it consists of a main weapon, a generic handgun with unlimited ammo, and a special weapon (either a molotov cocktail or pipe bomb). Each player can also hold medical supplies, which are vital on the harder difficulties of the game. One downfall however is the simple fact that there are only five real weapons in the game, a shotgun or auto shotgun, an uzi or M16, or a hunting rifle. Not that these are not enough to keep the undead at bay, but the thought of a chainsaw as a selectable weapon seems like an obvious choice. The controls themselves are also simple and easy to master, as one simply points and shoots, and crouches to improve accuracy.
The real twist in the game is not the mechanics, but the teamwork and strategy involved. Left 4 Dead boasts a cunning AI director that changes the placement of zombies, items, and of course “boss” zombies that will keep even the most hardcore players on thier toes. Speaking of boss zombies, Yes, there are boss zombies, and they come in the form of a Hunter, Smoker, Boomer, Tank, and Witch. The hunter is the most common of the five and is an extremely fast zombie that has the ability the pounce on a player and pinning them down, forcing them to be rescued by thier companions. The Smoker is an interesting boss that is rather weak, but has the ability to drag players a far distance with its tongue, this is especially deadly when you are dragged from your area of safety into a horde of infected. The Tank is well…. a Tank, a massive zombie that throw cars and chunks of the environment at players and can kill them easily if allowed to come close, players must sink clip after clip of ammo into the Tank to kill it. The Boomer is an extremely weak fat zombie that has the ability to “vomit” zombie goo at players, temporarily blinding them and spawning a horde of infected to attack them. The Witch is the rarest of the five, and is an innocent looking girl who sits on the floor and rocks back and forth softly crying…. until you startle her, and then she flies are the closest player usually disembowling at least one of the four with razor sharp claws if not handled carefully.
One other interesting addition is the competitive multiplayer mode, which enables four players to play as the infected as well as four players play as the survivors. This shakes the gameplay up as players must learn how to control the very creatures they worked so hard to kill, but once mastered, makes for extremely fun and addictive gameplay.
Left 4 Dead, while limited in some ways content wise, is still one of the most enjoyable games on the market. The AI director which changes the gameplay every time you start a level makes up for the lack of content by letting you play the same level over and over, with a different experience each time. While available to play by yourself, Left 4 Dead shines as a multiplayer game, and even the casual gamer can get countless hours of online play out of the title, giving it a longevity that surpasses most games out there. The short truth? Left 4 Dead is a game that revolutionizes online co-op gameplay, and a much needed asset to any gamers collection, if you do not already have this title for your PC or Xbox, suggest you buy it… No seriously. Buy it right now.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com