Left 4 Dead

Genre: Survival Horror/First-Person Shooter
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PC
Allegiance: Valve
Vintage: 2008
Rating: M
Intelligence Agency Report by: Dante
Two weeks after a deadly infection ravages part of the world, four survivors who came out of it immune must battle their way through hordes of the infected, fighting for their lives . Some of what they encounter doesn’t even seem human anymore. In this world, guns are your best friends and time is your bitter, bitter enemy.

Weapons Expert Report by: Dante
Overall 9.50
(not an average)
Version Reviewed: Xbox 360 Left 4 Dead is one of the few survival horror games I’ve actually managed to play through from beginning to end, and the only one I’ve played through more than once. I’m the kind of person who tends to shy away from survival horror games. I admit, I scare easily. But Left 4 Dead is different than the norm. With its main focus being co-op, you’re never really alone (unless your teammates have all died, that is). It’s quite a bit easier to fend off hordes of the undead with three friends at your back. The witty quips of the characters also help to lighten the mood, be it Francis’ blatant hatred towards everything except vests, Bill’s war talk and jokes about the “Great Zombie Attack of ’57”, Louis’s comparing the fight against hordes of zombies to playing Counter-Strike, or Zoey’s nonsensical rants. There’s a little something for everyone as far as character personalities go. 

The story in Left 4 Dead is simple: there isn’t one. The objective is very simple as well: kill zombies on your way from point A to point B and try not to die or let your teammates die. The instruction manual for the game offers a background on each character, but that’s about it. So if you want an in-depth zombie game with a great back story and complex characters, I suggest you pick up a copy of Resident Evil 5. If you want a zombie game that you can just pick up and play online with your friends (and have a blast playing, I might add), then this game is worth a shot. 

The gameplay of Left 4 Dead is where it really shines. Four-player co-op makes this game a lot more fun to play than most survival horror games, which generally focus on single player modes. One of the unique elements of the game is that if you die, your (human) teammates can continue on without you, and after so long, you will respawn in a closet, allowing your teammates to rescue you so you can continue along with them. This makes it a lot easier to progress through the different scenarios. Various weapons and an assortment of explosives also make fighting the hoards a bit easier. 

The key to the gameplay is the A.I., though. If your teammates are computer-controlled, they don’t actually suck, like in most games. In addition, you also have the Director A.I. What he does is set the pace of the game as well as the music in the background for each player, which is different depending on what situation they are each in. He spawns the zombies throughout the map, spawns weapons, and controls the general mood of the game . This also adds a lot to the replay value of the game, making it so no two playthroughs are quite the same. So, in short, the gameplay of Left 4 Dead is probably the best aspect of the entire game. Period. 

The graphics of Left 4 Dead are superb. Valve tends to outdo themselves with each new game, and Left 4 Dead is no exception. Every zombie is very detailed, looking diseased and bloody (as all zombies should). Some zombies are even dressed to coincide with the location they’re found in (zombies in the hospital dressed in scrubs and patient gowns, for instance). The character designs are also well thought out. You have Louis, an IT professional, dressed in business attire, namely a white shirt and a red tie (Shaun of the Dead reference, perhaps?), Zoey, a college student, dressed in casual clothing befitting a college student, Bill, an army vet, dressed in greens that are somewhat reminiscent of the army, and Francis, a biker dressed in the typical leather biker vest and jeans (with the stereotypical tattoos). The character designs really fit the respective personalities well. The landscape is also well designed, with various nooks and crannies where both zombies and survivors can hide. There are also several posters and whatnot around the different levels with some of the most miniscule details. Valve took care to make just about everything as detailed as possible in this game, even the stuff that serves no purpose other than making the level seem less empty. Overall, I’d say the graphics of this game are well above par, and really make the game stand out among veterans like Resident Evil and Silent Hill.. 

The audio in Left 4 Dead is about as epic as the graphics. As I said before, the Director sets a good portion of the audio to fit the particular mood. The different bosses in the game also have their own theme music (which is probably the biggest hint that that boss is somewhere nearby). Some of the tracks have that panicky feel to it, while others have a more ominous feel. Either way, the music is quite easy on the ears. It mostly sounds like something you might even hear an orchestra play (mostly because it’s instrumental stuff with horns and strings and whatnot). If you enjoy listening to game scores, then Left 4 Dead is probably a good choice for you. However, if you buy the game solely for the score, then I shall find you insane. The gameplay is much better than the score. 

Overall, Left 4 Dead presents itself more as a shooter than a survival horror game. But if you like either genre, or even both genres, then you’re bound to find Left 4 Dead interesting and fun. If you want a deep, detail-rich story, this isn’t it. The game is very vague, and the only real background to anything is given in the instruction manual (for the characters) and on the walls of safe rooms and whatnot. The audio and graphics make this game well above par when compared to the standard set by most survival horror games, and the A.I. isn’t completely useless here. The Director has a sick sense of humor, though, sending hordes of zombies at you when you’re least expecting (or prepared for) it. In the end, this just adds to the game’s replay value, and if these things appeal to you, then I say go for it. It’s definitely earned its place in the gaming world.