Left 4 Dead: A Game Review

Another older game, but it’s always been one of my favourites. At first glance, Valve’s 2008 Left 4 Dead seems to be your standard co-op first person shooter. But after your first play through, you’ll soon learn it’s far more than that. What makes this game truly great is its unique artificial intelligence engine, known as The Director, which customises the environment as you play, in response to your actions. This means that no matter how many times you play it, no campaign will ever run through exactly the same way twice, making for a dynamic and thrilling gaming experience.

The game contains four playable human characters and is heavily co-op based. Standard zombies, known as Common Infected, feature most often, but among them are five Special Infected, each with their own unique abilities and ways they can attempt to ruin your day. Crucially, two of these Specials, the Hunter and Smoker, possess the ability to “pin” players, rendering them completely helpless until another player comes to their aid. The Tank and the Witch possess a healthy amount of hit points and require all players to work together to bring them down. Depending on your difficulty setting, these two charmers can kill you with one hit if you get too close. The final Special is the Boomer, who has the lovely habits of vomiting on players when they get within range and exploding when killed; both acts resulting in those close enough ending up covered in zombie-attracting bile.

The way to survive and enjoy this game is to work as a team. This isn’t your everyday co-op where you do better if you work together. In Left 4 Dead, you cannot possibly survive if you don’t work together. And the game makes certain of that. Not playing as a team by failing to rescue each other, separating too far from the group or over-indulgence in friendly fire results in swift punishment from The Director. Punishment usually takes the form of a horde of zombies coming your way, or Specials spawning at the worst possible times. By sticking together and helping each other, you’ll find The Director to be far more merciful.

Another thing that makes this game unique is the somewhat more realistic inventory available to you. Each player can carry up to two pistols, one larger gun (such as assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine pistols, shotguns), one first aid kid, one grenade (pipe bomb or Molotov cocktail) and one bottle of pain pills. Basically your characters can carry what any normal person can carry at any given time. These limits encourage further teamwork, as no one player can become their own one-man army and zerg the place.

Overall, Left 4 Dead may be older, but it has stood the test of time and is still a fantastic game even today. The graphics are incredibly decent for a 32bit game and the intensity of the gameplay within the perfectly sculpted atmospheric environment makes for a truly immersive experience. Add The Director changing things up depending on how you play, and you get a clever, fun, surprisingly realistic game. I’d recommend this one to any first-person shooter or zombie hunting fan who loves a good co-op.

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