Zombies, whether the slow shuffling type or the new crazy sprinting ones will always get you in the end, but now’s your chance to prove them wrong by surviving an onslaught of the 28 Days Later and Dead Set type by working as a team of four in Left 4 Dead.
Created by Valve, the same guys that brought us Half-Life, Counter-Strike and Portal, the game uses the Source engine to deliver hordes of fresh infected meat to shoot at as you make your way from A to B without becoming DOA.
The fresh thing about Left 4 Dead is that it really does encourage online gamers to play together. In fact, if you don’t, you’re not going to last long. You start the game in a safe house and can pick up all manner of shotguns, machine guns and rifles and of course ammo and one health pack. You can also pick up molotov cocktails and pipe bombs which are very amusing as they act like a smart bomb. For some reason these infected love the beeping and flashing and crowd round it until it goes boom.
Once on your way to be picked up by helicopter or boat or whatever, you have to stick together as you blast wave after wave of infected and some super infected to spice things up a bit. There’s the Tank, a hulk of a zombie that throws cars and needs lots of hits to take down, the Hunter, basically a hoodie that leaps on you and pins you to the floor, the Smoker who grabs you with its tongue rendering you helpless, and the Witch, a super-human lady who attacks you if you startle her with your torch. It’s vital you help trapped buddies and revive them as quickly as you can if you want to make it to the end of each scenario.
At the end you then have to wait for your pickup and defend yourselves against waves of infected. It’s heart-stopping stuff and will certainly get you screaming down your headset.
This game is terrific. It’s atmospheric, the characters each have their own strong personality and the zombies run and sprint just like in the movies. It’s even a bit camp at times, nodding to its B-movie roots. You can play it single player with bots but that kind of misses the point. Your AI team-mates are also a bit too good and lack that human selfishness which so often gets you into trouble when playing with others.
There’s more to say but I just don’t have time. Although it doesn’t take long to play through the scenarios, the fact that weapons, ammo and enemies never appear in the same place twice makes for great replay value. You can even play in VS mode as the super-infected. If you love zombies and you’re in Microsoft’s Windows camp, get yourself Left 4 Dead. It gets 9 out of 10.