Left 4 Dead Review

Score: 90 / 100

*Good:* 4 player co-op, beautiful source graphics, lots of zombie variety to kill, great sounds, easy to just pop-in and start mowing down the undead

*Bad:* Awful server browser, lack in variety of weapons, small amount of levels to play, NO plot, gameplay never really changes and thus gets old

*Update (Jan. 6, 2009):*

My initial review for this game was shallow. I will admit that. That is why I am rewriting and revisiting this game and review.

Left 4 Dead is one of the most interesting games of 2008. Not only did it get delayed a million times, in valve fashion, but they milked the demo of L4D at every gaming convention they could get to. Needless to say, that built some hype for a game that looked to be amazing. It also led to people getting completely offended when you write anything negative about this game.

The fact of the matter is that L4D has not lived up to any level of hype there was about it and it is not that amazing.

Firstly, there is not plot. I didn’t honestly buy this game thinking there would be one, but some type of plot would have been welcomed. I mean come on, even Soul Calibur IV attempted to have a plot.

The only plot this game offers is survive. Start the short level, grab some ammo and a health pack, and then start shooting tons of zombies that just kind of stand there and take it. Now, after you start making some noise, zombies start to become aware of your presence. That is when HORDES of them start to attack.

Secondly, the boss zombies are a great addition to the game, but are rather ridiculous at times. I don’t know how many games I have played where I would get grabbed by a smoker (that wraps it tongue around you and pulls you across the map), vomited on by a boomer, and then pounced on by a hunter. That is when you start to realize that L4D is, in large part, about dodging boss zombies and letting your friends wander ahead of you.

Thirdly, the co-op features of this game are great. I will absolutely give it that. L4D does teamwork like no other game I have played. Having to help your friends up while trying to fend off a zerg rush of zombies is stressful…but amazing.

Lastly, the server browsing in L4D is non-existent. For some reason they decided to scrap the default source server browser and make their own that allows two options. Create a local server (running off your machine) or create a dedicated that throws you on a random server. Dedicated doesn’t sound that bad right? Wrong. The game doesn’t take into account your location, or your teammates locations, relative to where the server is located. This causes very very bad pings and gameplay that makes me frown. My friend has a theory that since making two different browsers for Xbox and PC is too much work, PC players get to pay the price.

On a brighter note, the graphics and sounds are great. Also, the mood and lighting really get you in the mood to annihilate zombies….and run for your life.

Left 4 Dead was a great first attempt by a company to harness all that is zombie slaughter. The only problem is that it didn’t quite get it just right. With gameplay that gets old fast, no server browsing, a lackluster assortment of eight weapons, and 4 levels that are pretty damn short, Left 4 Dead left me a little disappointed. While it is fun to kill zombies in co-op with your friends, charging 50 dollars for something that felt like an expansion just can’t be justified that easily. The game is fun, don't get me wrong, but be warned that playing through the same 4 levels over and over will get old and changing the difficulty can only add so much more gameplay.

*First Review:*

If you have read this site at all then you know how long we can wait to post a review. Granted sometimes we get reviews out pretty early, but most of the time we let the game saver and sink in.

This is exactly what I have done with Left 4 Dead. Ok, I will admit that they made us wait a long time to play this, so me waiting to review it might have been a little slap in the face to valve.

Though it isn’t the first game to have zombies, it is the first game to throw you into a zombie apocalypse and just say….go! While most games attempting this might have failed, L4D pulls it off with flying colors (mainly red…green in Germany).

You start every mission with your trusty companions: old military dude, biker dude, sorority chick?, and Obama. You then have to make it to the useless ‘rescue points’ while 1. Staying alive, 2. Killing HORDES of zombies, 3. Making sure your teammates stay alive, and 4. Doing all of this with a limited amount of weapons.

L4D, in being successful with zombie survival, brings several different types of zombies to the table. You have your smokers who frog tongue you across the map, your tanks who are exactly that, your boomers who explode lots of zombie puss all over you, and finally the witches who are just scary as hell. (edit: I stupidly forgot to mention the hunters. They pounce.)

This is now where I mention the co-op. Basically this game is built for it. You play 4 player co-op through all of the game and I wouldn’t recommend doing it otherwise. I have truly not seen a game that requires as much team work as L4D.

But where this game falls short is its lack of variety when it comes to weapons. With how long the game was in production, a better assortment of firearms would have been most welcome. The game also has AWFUL server browsing. Forget selecting what internet server you want to play on. The game throws you and your friends on a random one every time…no matter how laggy or far away it is from you. Though there are ways around this (like selecting local and running the server off your machine), most casual gamers will fall victim to the gross server browser this game offers. Why they changed it from other source titles, I have no idea.

I guess I should also mention that the game does offer PvP as well. Zombie vs Survivor. Though fun to go head to head, the PvP in this game just falls short of anything great.

Another huge down fall for the game is the lack of levels they give you and how short they are. There are 4 levels with about 30 minutes to an hour on each level. May sound like a lot, but they get old fast, no matter how challenging they may be.

While L4D may have some drawbacks, it is still a blast to play with your friends. And any game that offers co-op is alright in my book. Especially zombie co-op! I would definitely say Left 4 Dead is worth the buy.

- Tyler (Chiko)

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