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anglebender [Celluloid 12.07.08] zombies review video game



PLATFORMS - PC (XP, Vista), Xbox 360, PS3
DEVELOPER - Certain Affinity [http://www.certainaffinity.com/]
PUBLISHERS - Electronic Arts/Valve Studios [http://www.ea.com/language] / [http://www.valvesoftware.com/]

GAMEPLAY - 8
SOUND - 7
GRAPHICS - 9
OVERALL - 8

I dislike Platformers. I dislike shoot-em-ups for the same reason- They are predictable. Your skill is determined by your ability to repeat patterns, which any trained monkey can do, but a great game will reproduce actual randomness. If the game makes a zombie come out from that barn every time you play, then how can that be fun the 100th time it happens? Instead, replace that single zombie with a galloping swarm, but make it come out from the barn ONLY when things seem too slow- That's Left 4 Dead.


It has earned complaints from many online gamers because of its matchmaking system. In other online games, you have a long list of servers from which you pick a place to login, so you can avoid servers named "-=L33tskiZZls=-" because of what their name infers. In Left 4 Dead, you choose "Versus" and the game chooses the server for you based on your demonstrated skill. Every time you login you get a grab-bag of teammates with varying temperaments and abilities (just like a real zombie apocalypse I guess). You might want to deactivate headset communication in the audio options menu unless you enjoy tactical advice from prepubescents for some weird reason.

Or it can be a LOT of fun. About 80% of the time, I will find a group of anonymous people who will cover my back, close doors behind them, or headshoot a Hunter pouncing me. There's moments when teamwork with strangers seems to evolve from the chaos of overwhelming odds. Those are the moments why I play video games online in the first place.





GAMEPLAY - 8

Left for Dead has a Single Player mode that I highly recommend completing before venturing online. Each map is linear (but intricately complex) and has a safehouse (the "goal") at the end to which the survivors run. You cannot hope to find an abandoned shack and hold out for the Marines to save you (that's the other map). You need to know where you are going or you WILL die. Players online will do this sometimes: they will enact pointless run-n-guns without any strategy or teamwork, then run all the way to the safehouse and hide while the team gets eaten. I highly recommend playing online with friends or people you trust in a zombie apocalypse. Go into online waters if you want, just know what you're getting yourself into.

The most irritating thing to me about Left 4 Dead (besides the neo-urban numeral placement in the title) is when you get to a fork in the road to the saferoom, players will take off in two directions without looking even looking behind them. Also, being the last one alive with a broken leg and with infinite bullets as the echoes of running flesheaters approach, the very last thing I'd want to hear over my headset is "I gotta go home now, my parents are worried". Aside from the anonymous newbie on my six constantly firing their shotgun into the back of my head, Left 4 Dead can be extremely fun providing you know where to go and what to do, or it becomes an embarrassing ordeal with blood and zombies thrown in as an afterthought. L4D is fun, but there will assuredly be online moments when you'll go "Aw shucks, here I am playing a video game again...".

And then there's death. When you start an online game, you can choose to be one of the four survivors or one of the "infected". Being a zombie is more than a redeeming factor for the online game, it's practically another game entirely. If you play a good game as a zombie, you'll spawn as a Tank zombie, a 5 ton monstrosity that hurls survivors hundreds of feet with a single punch. I'll take mine with Mayo.





SOUND - 7

Cheesy campy "oooh-OOOH-oooh" music with theremins and 1980's orchestral crashes for no reason. It crescendos during a horde attack, then suddenly drops to serenity without transition. Jarring to the bone, disabling the music improved gameplay for me vastly. The "BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-ROAR" of an approaching tank is music enough. I understand what Valve & EA are doing with the music: they are trying to make this game as accessible as possible, which while for a product is a requirement, but if it makes the game all corny and dumb, then I just turn the music off.

Voice-overs and zombie grunts aren't irritating sound loops. You won't ever get sick of hearing "GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME!" or "OHGODNONONO!!". The voices of each of the four survivors perfectly match the appearance of each model. The grumpy old vet sounds like he's going to yell at me to keep off his lawn, Zoey sounds like she's gonna snap at any moment, the black guy is simmering without being over-the-top, and the scary-looking biker dude sounds the part. They even sound the part when they are a pixel from death and covered in their own blood- That's pretty awesome.

All the complaints I made earlier about the online play? Just deactivate your headset and you're complaint-free. I think it's a better game because of that feature. The really good players don't seem to use the headset anyway. Maybe they don't want to speak to me because my avatar of a three-eyed kitten was too much for them.





GRAPHICS - 9

The gore is thick with this one. Every time you unleash a cone of shot at hundreds of dead grasping hands, a fountain of blood erupts like a hemoglobin Christmas tree. On a console (XBOX 360 or PS3) you're fine, but on lesser PC systems this spectacle with either crash the computer or freeze it with repeating sound. For that, I'd find a tweaking guide online somewhere. If you have a good rig, then you should be okay, but you might still need some tweaking. Or maybe Valve/EA will patch it.

The texture maps for the 3D models are very good. It seems to blood-splatter onto the walls and floor well, but it's the same three texture maps only rotated 90 degrees every time, and thus the Ministry of Minuscule Gripes issues two demerits. Seriously, all the graphics are top notch, but it may tax older PCs.

I'll be playing this for a while, so if you're online or on Steam, look me up under "ADVERSARY X" because I'm always looking for a few good players. Until some kind of Grand Theft Auto with zombies hits the shelves, Left 4 Dead will the only reanimated corpse attack simulator there is.

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duran (11 years ago) Reply

I just want to comment, saying that your biggest problem seems to be the random pubbies and assholes that exist on the internet.
You're absolutely right. They can ruin the game and make it unplayable.

L4D is *ALL* about team work, its the only way to win.

Find a good core of people to play with, on one of the more mature online gaming communities, (arsclan.net, my favorate) and you'll never go back to a public game, ever again.

L4D is the best game of the year imho, simply because of how well Multiplayer is executed.

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bigfoot (11 years ago) Reply

If I can get into a game with at least one good player, which happens about 90% of the time, I'll be fine. People who get annoying, such as "Hella" today who thought it was funny to TK me, get voted out of the game.

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soma (11 years ago) Reply

shame this isn't on teh ps3

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bob jones (11 years ago) Reply

amazing

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Anglebender (11 years ago) Reply

OOPS! Left 4 Dead is only for XBOX 360 and Windows, NOT PlayStation 3! The real shame is that I didn't notice until after Xmas LOL

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n107 (11 years ago) Reply

I just got the game and enjoy what I played so far. It's a little disappointing that the campaigns are so short. What I find interesting is the fact that the game needs good teamwork to get through the missions alive BUT you're actually punished if you take your time and move too slow (hoards of zombies will spawn to come after you). So you have to be careful while still being rushed forward. It's a clever way to make the game exciting and stressful at the same time.

I haven't done multiplayer yet, but I did try one campaign with a friend and you REALLY see the difference between having a good human at your side compared with the AI teammates (though they do a decent job).

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Sunolet (11 years ago) Reply

i personally love L4D i think it veered off valve's normal formula of loads of guns and maps but nonetheless it was very creative and fun my only problem with it is the assholes who randomly shoot at you if you don't help em out (he had been on the ground for 25 secs, was surrounded, and i was the only other survivor) and the 8 year olds who play which really gets me pissed about the parents as well


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