james debate
james debate

Monday, 2 February 2009

Developed by Valve Corporation
Genre First person survival horror
Platform PC, Xbox360
Release date(s) 18th November 2008

left 4 dead

Now I want you to think about that film 28 Days Later. Remember that? Man that was a sweet film. Now I want you to imagine playing that film in a videogame form. Then you probably have a pretty good idea what this game is like.

This is a survival horror, where you control one out of a small group of survivors (either online with friends or offline on your own) and attempt to survive a zombie onslaught. These are no shuffling Resident Evil type zombies mind, this is more like 28 Days Later 'infected', running towards you in massive packs at high speed like a snarling animal and then lunging their teeth right into you. Your team consists of Bill, an aged, ex vietnam vet with a gruff demeanor and an ass kicking attitude; Lou, a regional assistant at some tech company with lots of pent up rage ready to be unleashed; Francis, a bad ass biker to whom a zombie invasion is like Christmas, Easter and New Year's combined; and lastly Zoe, a hot college student who watches too many horror movies.

You will end up fighting hundreds of these guys in open spaces as well as in claustrophobic corridors as you desperately attempt to make your way to the next safe house, and to do this you have access to all manner of goodies, double pistols, shotguns, assault rifles. It's incredibly frenetic, tense, and will shake you to your core. It's bloody brilliant.

Whilst clearly designed to work as an online game in your team of four, the single player will still keep you entertained for ages, thanks largely to some really excellent AI work, though I did encounter one or two glitches, players getting stuck and the like, but it ends up not mattering anyway as you can immediately start at any stage of the game from the moment you get it, as opposed to the usual mechanic of having to unlock new levels to play.

So what's wrong with it? Not a whole lot. I suppose some more could have been put into the single player mode, maybe some cutscenes tying together the individual chapters rather than making them so disjointed and abrupt, and as I mentioned I did encounter some AI glitches now and again. And of course, the game is really a bit short, not that that's a surprise for a game mostly intended for online play, but still.

Overall this is a very fine game and a must have for any fan of Valve or of zombie movies. Very exciting, very gory, very good.

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