When Valve release a game, it’s a big deal. In fact, to many gamers it’s a very big deal. Left 4 Dead is no exception – Valve made sure of that with community blogs, regular news updates and a huge marketing campaign. Now that the zombie apocalypse is finally here, does it live up to the hype or is it dead on arrival?
It’s the Zombie Apocalypse. Bring Friends.
Left 4 Dead pits you and three associates against a zombie horde and requires you to traverse various locations, including a hospital, an airport and a subway in order to survive.
Valve have taken an unoriginal concept and made it their own
On the face of it the concept is simple and cannot exactly be described as original. Yet it is not the concept itself which makes Left 4 Dead one of the most incredible multiplayer games of the year, but the way in which it is carried out. Valve promised an incredible, jaw-dropping experience and they have certainly delivered and then some.
Many games in the past have offered multiplayer co-operative experiences and in a lot of cases have delivered great results. However, while the elements of co-op play are definitely evident, the necessity to actually play in this way is not so. Just look at any online multiplayer game which asks players to ‘work as a team’ to achieve a goal – say, Counter Strike: Source, for example. Yet anyone who has played one of these so-called ‘team experiences’ will know that the majority of the time it is far from. Teammates run around doing their own thing, not really caring about their team and aiming to get the highest individual score.
Of course, this lack of team play would usually lead to their demise – but since the other team are most likely charging around every man for himself too, it turns out to not be such a problem.
Left 4 Dead changes all that. Rather than rewriting the rules book, Valve have read each rule and worked out a strategy to force players to stick together. No longer can rogue team-mates forget the objective and go on their own little mission – the zombie horde makes sure of that.
They’re Everywhere… EVERYWHERE!!
One factor which contributes to this need to stick together is the sheer amount of infected enemies. The zombies are literally everywhere. Of course, for a hardcore FPS gamer, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem – a simple headshot to each undead is enough to move your way through the hordes. Yet if you take the distinct lack of ammo into account, it quickly becomes very apparent that you’re going to need a few more gun-toters in order to survive.
Surrounded by the undead, it’s always nice to see a little bit of humanity scattered about
Then there’s the zombie wave attacks. Every now and again it will all seem a bit too quiet and this is when you will need your team-mates quite a fair bit, for eerie silence is usually the calm before the undead storm – first the distant screams, then the indescribable sight of dozens and dozens of the undead rushing your way. If you don’t have help, don’t expect to survive.
Finally there is the biggest factor in your survival – the ‘Special Infected’. Taking the form of five undead creatures who have some very interesting abilities, these are the beasts who instill fear into the hearts of every player – and that’s before you’ve even caught a glimpse of them.
The Boomer is huge, fat and slow, but that doesn’t mean he should be taken lightly, as he’s packing a whole lot of infected gloop and will try at every available moment to orally spray it all over the Survivors, attracting the zombie mob. Then there’s the Smoker who will take any opportunity to fire his ridiculously long and flexible tongue out of his mouth, grab a Survivor and reel them in to apply a good pasting to them via his pointy claws.
The Witch can do incredible damage in an extremely short amount of time
Another special infected is the Hunter. Lunging out of the shadows, the Hunter will pin a survivor to the ground, rendering them helpless until a team-mate can remove the vile creature. Next up is the Witch, possibly one of the most terrifying creatures ever created for a game. Ironically, she is also the easiest to get around, simply by not going anywhere near her! Sitting on the dirty floor in a clump, the echoes of her crying move through your body and every Survivor instantly turns their flashlight off and begins to creep. Startling the Witch with your flashlight, rapid movement or gunfire is right at the bottom of the list entitled ‘Clever Things to Do During a Round of Left 4 Dead’ as she will rise from her crumpled mess and surge in your direction, dealing out single-hit floorings to any survivor who decides to take a pop at her.
Finally, we have the omnipotent Tank. Catching a glimpse of this beast charging in the distance will send shivers down your spine and cause a lot of running in the opposite direction! Terrifyingly huge, he will stop at nothing to punch you to the ground and proceed to beat your helpless body to a bloody pulp.