Valve produces a lot of fun games don’t they? I mean, Team Fortress 2 I’ve sank possibly over one thousand hours worth of time into on both Steam and Xbox 360. We’ve also had the infamous Half-Life series, where I played to the halfway point of all of these games and then stopped. There’s also Portal, which I must admit, the sequel was better. So what about Left 4 Dead? Clearly by the name it’s a zombie game, that’s a given. But due to the recent storm of zombie games, can Left 4 Dead really provide anything different?
The short answer to that is of course it bloody can. It may honestly be one of the best zombie related games of all time. For me this game does hold a very special value to me. Given that it was the first 18 game I was ever allowed to play, it does hold some nostalgic value. The amount of convincing I had to push through to get this game just made it so damn worth it.
But that was quite literally a good eight or so years ago. What I want to look at is whether or not this game has actually aged well. I mean, sure, I could’ve looked at Left 4 Dead 2, but for me this is the game that holds the most nostalgic value. Either I was going to ruin the nostalgic feeling for myself or I was going to enjoy playing through my childhood. It was a gamble that paid off in my opinion.
There is no real story line to this game as far as I am aware. A zombie “infection” has broken out and you team up with three other strangers in an attempt to escape. That’s it. You’re given the characters first names, but that’s all you’re given. Your one objective is to make it to the end of each level without dying. A very simple “plot” that is a lot harder to accomplish than you would think.
Most zombie games these days often have some form of stealth mechanic. You can manoeuvre around a large environment and make sure to keep out of their sight. In this game it’s pretty much impossible to do that. As soon as you fire a single bullet, well, you’re buggered basically. That was the best part about the game though. You couldn’t play this game tactically or co-ordinate unless you had a team of four. For the most part, you would be running and gunning your way through the game.
That works for the most part, especially with the AI. For some reason they’re actually very responsive. Something that was a very rare part of a game way back when was responsive AI. Still, it’s something to be applauded. If you ever find yourself in a spot of bother or clinging onto a ledge, they’ve always got your back. I’m not saying they’re perfect though, they’re sort of like Lemmings in that regard.
I guess that’s all the more reason to play this game with friends, so long as you have some. Personally, I never really played this game with friends because they all bought Left 4 Dead 2 by the time I got my hands on this game. No matter though, the community for Left 4 Dead is still pretty active and I did manage to play a few game modes of everything.
Apart from the campaign mode which is basically standard issue, there is both survival and versus. Versus is straight forward really, one team are survivors, the other team play as the special infected. Honestly that game mode was so damn fun to play when you were the zombies. When you were trying to survive it wasn’t so easy. The special infected were varied very well. The Smoker and The Boomer were a frequent combination where you could work together with your team. The Hunter would leap onto enemies and of course The Tank would just ruin your day entirely.
But none of this would have worked if the core gameplay wasn’t fun. The weapon variety in the game is great, you’re never able to stick with just one gun so long as you’re not on easy. You’ll run out of ammo fairly quickly in the set piece segments so it’s up to you to not get too attached to your weapons. There are no weapons that should be avoided either, pretty much every weapon is great for a different situation. For me it had to be the shotguns and the dual wield pistols.
The survivors are of course given a choice of who to play as. Bill, Zoey, Francis and Louis. For me, it was always Bill for some reason, I think it was the beret that did it for me. Not sure why that matters considering once I picked him I never saw him. Still, that’s not the point is it? None of the characters have special abilities, the core gameplay is very basic. That’s why it works though. You don’t need special “variety” classes working together. Left 4 Dead is very much a game based on skill and skill alone.
Should I really go into detail on the survival mode? You know exactly what it is by now. Camp somewhere on a map until you eventually get bored and let the timer run out. There were a few maps that were unique to survival in this game like the Lighthouse. A nice touch if I’m honest.
After revisiting Left 4 Dead, I was very pleasantly surprised with how fun it still is. Everything is just as good as I had remembered, maybe even a bit better in some regards. It’s a shame though, because after so long I have found better zombie survival games. Not many, but just one or two that I prefer to play. Don’t get me wrong, this game is utterly amazing and I would recommend picking up a copy instantly. But, for me, No More Room in Hell is not only free, but it’s one of the best games I have played in a very long time.
Let’s not contract from how good Left 4 Dead is though. Not only that but how much of a landmark it is to the zombie video game genre. With a lot of fast paced gameplay and a fun multiplayer mode, Left 4 Dead is a zombie game done right.