Left 4 Dead Review

Left 4 Dead is a 2008 survival horror first-person shooter video game, developed by Valve South, published by Valve Corporation, and released for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, and OS X.  Set as the first installment of the Left 4 Dead game series, the game is set during the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic, the game follows four “Survivors” who struggle to survive against hordes of infected.


Positives:

  • Great gameplay
  • Fun multiplayer modes
  • Great music/sound design
  • Good graphics
  • Awesome multiplayer
  • Awesome game engine

Negatives:

  • Lackluster story
  • Lacks unlockable/hidden content
  • Lackluster characters
  • Highly repetitive gameplay

Campaign: The game can be played single-player (played offline with three AI-controlled bots) or cooperative multiplayer (up to 4 players) is experienced through five campaigns, each campaign is divided into five chapters. Each level involves players fighting off the infected while trying to escape or make their way to a safe house, which are checkpoints where players can heal, re-arm and revive characters who were killed. The final level in each campaign requires the Survivors to call for rescue and either survive a prolonged onslaught until rescue arrives, pass through an especially challenging gauntlet of Infected to reach an escape vehicle, or collect and utilize fuel cans to enable their escape.

One thing about the campaign is that it is linear and the missions get pretty damn repetitive real quick.  Also, there is also the lack of any kind of story.  Sure, a game like this wouldn’t really have a story but it would’ve been a helluva lot better had there been more focus on the characters, which includes outlaw biker Francis, Vietnam Veteran Bill, university student Zoey, and district Account Manager Louis.  Who are these characters? Where do they come from? Do they have family?  Content like this could’ve helped give the game more depth, make players actually want to know the characters. What about other Survivors?  (3 out of 5)

Gameplay:  The game is a first-person shooter where the player takes control of one of four survivors; if human players are not available, then the remaining survivors are AI-controlled bots.   Upon completing a campaign, a faux credits screen recaps certain performance statistics for the group. If a survivor’s health is depleted, they become incapacitated and can only be revived by another survivor.  If a survivor takes enough damage while incapacitated or is not eventually helped up by teammates, then the character will die.  Survivors communicate by voice commands and can share first-aid kits and pain pills and help each other heal.  The controls are pretty standard and are handled pretty damn well.  The AI is pretty damn competent though at times they can be a bit reckless.  There should’ve been something to add more strategically control over the AI, especially when dealing with the special infected like the witches or tanks.  The enemy AI, when alerted, are just relentless, and will have even the most advanced players frustrated with the hordes of infected that will attempt to overrun them.  Special Infected can be a pain if players aren’t careful and a major threat if joined by a horde. (3 out of 5)

Graphics:  The game’s graphics are pretty good.  There is enough detail to the different areas to make them different though they could be a bit more realistic.  Sure, the lack of cinematics do make the game suck (sorry fanboys but it does) in terms of story and characters.  However, the game has a lot of atmosphere.  The areas feel desolate, isolating, and totally creepy, no matter the area. (3 out of 5)

Score:  Thumbs up to the score which is hands down awesome.  The voice performances are pretty well done and the creatures do have their own unique sounds.  The music when it comes to the levels does maintain a dark and creepy tone as well as for the special infected.  The witch’s theme is a personal favorite. (4 out of 5)

Replay Value:  There is a lot to appreciate when it comes to the replayability, however there is just as much to dislike.  For one thing, there is no unlockable or hidden content.  Sure, there are little tidbits here and there but nothing to enlist multiple playthroughs to find.  Outside of the campaign (which features single-player and cooperative multiplayer), there are both Versus (each team of one to four players plays each chapter of the campaign as both survivor and infected) and Survival (timed challenge where players try to survive as long as possible against a never-ending flood of the infected).  This is one of those games where if players don’t have friends they probably won’t be playing it very much.  However, for those lucky players with a gang of friends ready to jump on at a moments notice, there is a lot of play to have. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, Left 4 Dead is a pretty good game and those who love online multiplayer will have a fun time.  Yeah, the game does suffer from a lack of unlockable content, highly repetitive gameplay, and lacking story.  However, the game features great atmosphere, good graphics, an awesome music/sound design, challenging gameplay and fun multiplayer.  Left 4 Dead gets 3 out of 5.

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