The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

Get out your Boomstick! Here comes Left 4 Dead!

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on November 9, 2008

Choose from 4 characters and watch them change over time

Choose from 4 characters and watch them change over time. When I played all the character wee clean shaved and in summer clothing.

This weekend I had the privilege of playing the Left 4 Dead demo and dear lord, I’m in love.  Let me say first that I’m terrible at shooters.  I dislike the plots, the gameplay and the whole experience in general.  And yet, I’ll be borrowing this game from my boyfriend as soon as he can part with it.  (I may be waiting a while… he’s even more in love with the game than I am).  That’s how impressive this game is.

All of the above being true, let me explain what drew me to this game.  I’m a Zombie Survivalist, and for those not in the know that means that I think about what would happen if the world came to an end and there were a bunch of Zombies of various types running around.  I plan how I could survive in various places and discuss these, admittedly crazy, topics with like minded friends.  Now, take all the things I’ve planned and make them come true in the Left 4 Dead videogame.

A Boomer can attract hundreds of zombies with it's foul breath

A Boomer can attract hundreds of zombies with it's bile

Valve, makers of Portal, Half Life 2 and other fantastic games went in to this project to design a zombie survival shooter that would appeal to a wide audience without taking itself too seriously.  They planned on character variety as well as good team and enemy AI as well as good quality graphics.  And they delivered on everything.

I’ll do a full review of this game when I get it to play the full version (see title, hint hint) but don’t worry, I’ll give you a peak at what I saw:

– 4 charters to play
– Team AI makes the game playable by even the worst shots.  I normally HATE shooters but even I can play this, I just use my teammates as meat shields! (Yup, I’m horrible like that).
– The ability to heal your teammates after you use them as meat shields.  Or yourself should the need arise.
_ Special zombie types add depth to the game.  The Smoker explodes and destroys your vision, The Boomer can vomit on you and attract hordes of zombies, The Tank is basically a zombie version of the Hulk, The Hunter jumps on you like something out of Alien and  The Witches… well… they rip you apart if you look at them funny.  Beware what sounds like the sobbing of children, no matter how much you want to be the hero.
– Zombies can entangle characters who must be rescued by other characters, including the Team AI’s.
– References to other Zombie classics.  “Groovy”.
– Character appearance evolves overtime.
– Stellar use of audio cues.  Teammates call out when they’re reloading or when they spot a special zombie.  Zombies make noises specific to their type, alerting the player before the encounter, and drawing them closer to the fight all at once.

Though Witches appear meak don't let thier cries fool you.  These ladies are cold killers.

Though Witches appear weak don't let their cries fool you. These ladies are cold killers.

– Don’t let the screencaps fool you, this game is not as hard to see as you’d think.  Though it is dark, you have a flashlight to use as well as light from billboards and the like.  However, the light and noise attract zombies so BEWARE
– Though it wasn’t available in the demo, YOU CAN PLAY AS ZOMBIES!

This is set to be one of the most fun shooters out this season, especially for those who don’t want the time commitment of Gears of War 2 or Fallout 3.  It’s simple pick up and go game play and group based play make it the kind of game you want to play with your friends, or even enemies.  Valve proves once again that simple formula done well can create the most enthralling games.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the full version of this one!  Assuming the Zombie appocolypse doesn’t happen first…

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