Frost's Left 4 Dead Review
-I have never seen this kind of Zombie Survival game before. It feels fresh.
-The four characters mesh well together.
-There are three game modes that are all intensely fun.
-The replay value is off the charts.
-The game features achievements, which are very fun to try and achieve with friends.
-There are only six guns to use, and multiple explosives, making your arsenal relatively weak.
-There is very little story development.
Valve added yet another game to run on their prized Source engine in November of 2008. This addition is titled Left 4 Dead. The game throws you into an apocalyptic world where an insane infection has turned what seems like the majority of the world’s population into cannibalistic zombie killing machines. Four characters manage to be free of the infection, and it is their job to stay that way.
These four characters are the center of the action. They are Louis, Francis, Zoey, and Bill. Louis seems to be an office worker, Bill a Vietnam War hero, Francis, a motorcycling badass, and Zoey seems to be your average teenage girl. The characters’ backgrounds remain unknown throughout the game, which keeps players curious. It seems as though each player seems to attach to one of the survivors. I personally always play as Louis.
The storyline has got to be the weakest part of the game, because there is such little development to it. You do not know what caused this infection, why some zombies differ from each other, and most importantly, how the characters met up. The game is divided into four separate campaigns, but none of them reveal any details of what in god’s name is going on. Each campaign offers a different rescue scenario, and the five chapters that make up the campaign allow you to explore different areas. For example, one of the campaigns, No Mercy, you begin on an apartment rooftop, and you must navigate through city streets, through a subway, underground, and through the hospital up to the rooftop to be rescued. That is a lot easier said than done, trust me.
Left 4 Dead’s gameplay is one of a kind. There are four campaigns in the game, each with five chapters. Each campaign presents the four survivors with a scenario that if played properly, will ultimately result in their rescue.
The Campaign Mode is the basis for the two other game modes of the game, Versus and Survival, as they use the maps from the campaigns to operate. As I said, there are four campaigns, each having five chapters. The goal of the first four chapters is to successfully reach a safe room, which acts as a checkpoint. The fifth chapter acts as a climax, and if successfully played, a rescue vehicle will rescue you from the never ending horde of zombies, resulting in your victory. In these campaigns, you will find your typical zombies, which are called common infected, but you will also find special infected, tanks, and witches. Special infected are zombies with special attacks. For example, the hunter is an infected that pounces on you, and keeps attacking until either you are dead, or it is dead. The tank is the largest zombie in the game, and is basically described by it’s name. The thing is huge, takes away huge amounts of health, and takes a whole team to kill. The witch sits in an area of the map waiting to be disturbed. If disturbed, it attacks the one who disturbed it until they are dead, which doesn’t take long. The special infected, tanks, and witches really spice up the campaigns. Each campaign takes about an hour to complete. Now that does sound like it will get boring extremely quickly, but you are wrong. The game engine produces a new environment every single time you play through a campaign. In laymen’s terms, you will never see the same thing twice, which is extremely cool, and does wonders for the game’s replay value.
One of the coolest features about the campaigns, are that each one runs like a movie. When you are playing through, your screen shows a slight amount of film grain, which is present in some horror movies. The Campaign mode is very fun. Minus the story development, there is not much I would change about it.
Versus is Left 4 Dead’s competitive game mode. It pits two teams of four against each other. One team plays as the survivors and the other team plays as the special infected. To play Versus, the four campaigns are used. The survivor team plays as they normally would, running through the chapter trying to get to the safe room. Here is where the special infected team comes in. Their job is to ultimately thwart the survivors, and pin them down to the point where none of them are able to reach the safe room. Basically, the more trouble the survivors have, the better you are doing. Survivors gain points for total ground covered, how many medkits they have, and their scored is multiplied depending on how many survivors made it to the safe room at the end of the chapter. At the end of the chapter, the roles switch. The survivors become infected, and the infected become survivors. You play like this until the end of the campaign. The team with the most points wins.
I think that versus is ultimately a cool idea, but I just don’t like it that much. I think that it is because it takes so long to complete just one game. In the end, each chapter is being played twice, and a campaign usually takes forty-five minutes to an hour to complete in the Campaign Mode of the game. So in Versus, you have to dedicate more than an hour to complete one game. In my opinion, that is a lot of time. It is a rare occurrence that you will start a Versus game, and finish it with the same group of people. Players constantly quit out in the middle of Versus matches. Playing as the infected is definitely an awesome and fun idea though.
Released as downloadable content, Survival mode is probably my favorite game mode in Left 4 Dead. The game mode supports up to 4 players, and adds AI bots in if you cannot find four people. Basically, the game works as a never-ending finale. You start the buzzer or contact the rescue vehicle, and the infected start pouring in. What makes this unique is that the infected never stop pouring in. Your goal here is to survive as long as possible. There are three medals that you can achieve for surviving. The first is the bronze, which you get after 4 minutes, the silver after 7 minutes, and the gold after ten. Now you may be thinking, 10 minutes, psh that’s a piece of cake. Well, it’s not. Along with the common infected come special infected, and they aren’t always easy to take down. The smokers can pull you away from your team into a pit of infected, a set of hunters can pounce your entire team to death, and worst of all, the tanks join the party. Tanks are the toughest infected in Left 4 Dead. They are huge, pack a ton of damage, and take a whole team to take a single one down. I have seen a total of three tanks at one time charging after me. Obviously, I lost there.
Some people compare Survival with the Nazi Zombies game mode present in Call of Duty: World at War. The general idea is similar, kill zombies and survive as long as you can, right? Well, I guess, but not really. I like to think of Survival Mode as Nazi Zombies on steroids. In Nazi Zombies, basically all you have to say is, “Alright guys, we’ll each get a ray gun and camp over there.” In Survival Mode, you find yourself saying things like, “Alright, you grab the assault rifle, you grab the shotgun. Now, camp here, and we’ll run for ammo in two minutes. Oh no, tank, help me! Smoker! We’re toast!” You will be saying that every single round almost guaranteed.
What I like a lot about the Survival Mode is that there is never a very good spot to camp, like in the finales. Valve blocks off bathrooms and closets which make the mode easy. So you are limited with certain spots to camp, and the game mode is still very hard once you’ve found a good spot.
The Source Engine never ceases to impress. Left 4 Dead’s graphics are phenomenal. Every single little detail is top notch. There is blood on the walls, broken furniture, fires, and of course, zombies. They all look great. In fact, depending on location, the infected wear different clothes. For instance, in the No Mercy campaign, the common infected are wearing hospital robes. Hell, I noticed that the tank, the most powerful infected in the game wears sneakers.
The sound is nothing less than great as well. The weapons sound good, and the sounds of the infected keeps you on your toes at all times. Listening in to the game can also be useful, because you can determine where the infected are located, using your ears. The voice-overs sound pretty good, but can be annoying, because it seems as if a good bit of the time, the survivors are babbling on.
For Left 4 Dead only spotlighting 4 campaigns that can be completed in less than an hour, the game actually does have very high replay value. In the campaigns, basically everything except the scenery changes every time you play it. That means that infected, special infected, weapons, and health will all be in a different spot. You will never see the same combination of all of these things twice. I love that, as I have played each campaign an upwards of ten times, and I intend to go on.
With the game also featuring two other game modes, Versus and Survival, the fun is literally endless. Another great part about this game is that it is primarily a cooperative game. Even playing with different friends can change the experience up a bit. I have taken breaks from the game, and then played again with a different set of people to find it a whole new and thrilling experience.
Left 4 Dead is the best Zombie Survival game that I have ever played. Everything seems to be done right, minus the story development, and lack of weapons. Each game mode is immensely exciting, and the games replay value is incredible. Should you buy this game? If you are searching for a thrilling zombie shooter, this could just be your best bet with everything that there is to do. You can not miss with Left 4 Dead.