I have officially logged over a day trying to survive the zombie apocalypse that is Left 4 Dead, after spending time tearing my friends a new one in versus mode and surviving expert I have my review.
Let’s get single player out of the way, don’t bother with it. While the AI bots are serviceable it really goes against the core element of L4D, the insanity of co-op. L4D ships with 4 campaigns (20 maps total) with two of the four available for versus mode which I’ll get to in a bit. The five maps of each campaign fit into the theme of the campaign, whether you and your friends must cross a city to reach a hospital alive or getting to a small town the map design has a lot of variety. Co-op as I mentioned earlier is the name of the game; every design decision has been built towards forcing everyone to stay together. Alone the player will be easily swarmed by the mobs of infected and will discover that they are unable to escape thanks to being reduced to a crawl while being attacked. The special infected (boss characters that will appear), 3 of them can disable someone while the fourth is so strong that it requires a group effort to take him down. Survivors who are knocked out can be revived with a helping hand from a friend. L4D rewards groups who are in sync with each other, as a good group can take anything the game throws at them. While 20 maps might not sound like a lot, the game has a trick up its sleeves to make you want to come back for more.
The much touted “Director” was created to keep the players guessing with each play through. Every time a map is loaded the director will determine where infected (both regular and special) will show up, item placement and will send mobs of infected to attack the players on a regular basis. Besides the big defense moment on most of the maps, ambush locations will change on each play through forcing the team to quickly adjust their plan. So far the director has been doing its job well, multiple play through (which on expert will happen a lot) have kept my team guessing and praying that we don’t run into a tank. The game comes with 4 difficulties that are sure to give everyone a challenge. Friendly fire isn’t so bad on the lower levels, but on expert one stray shot can take out your friend. Moving on let’s talk about versus mode, for when you want to become the chaser and not the chased.
Versus mode pits two teams of four against each other to see who can score the most points over a campaign. Each map has one team as the survivors and the other as the special infected who will spawn into the level. Points are earned by the surviving team and are based on how far they get, total health if they finish and more. The infected players have the task of stopping the other team by reducing their health to zero. The survivors have a lot of advantages to keep them going, firepower, huge health, and the ability to revive someone who is knocked out. The infected however cannot be completely killed and will always respawn in about 20 seconds meaning the survivors will need to move fast lest they be overwhelmed. Team work is more important for the infected as alone, they can be easily dispatched but working together they can use their unique talents to destroy the group. Overall versus mode is a lot of fun; however you really need 8 people to make the most of it.
L4D is not perfect and there are still a few bugs in the system. The match maker system for finding servers is not a good replacement for simply finding one for you; there are still a few imbalances in my opinion. The difficulty curve isn’t smooth as advanced is pretty easy for the FPS vet, while expert can make you want to tear your hair out every time a tank knocks you out in one hit. The achievement system is known for not giving the player the ones they’ve earned and some of them would make me livid if I didn’t get them due to a bug.
At this point it remains to be seen what new content Valve will add and if L4D will have the staying power like Team Fortress 2. Still for now L4D is a great game and a must for people with friends looking for an exciting time. I give L4D the correct use of the word “for”.
P.S. If you haven’t figured out the reasoning for the title of this entry, then you are beyond any help I can give sadly.