So you've returned, Weaver. What are you reviewing this time?
Well, I'm glad you've asked. Today, I'm doing a review of the Left 4 Dead series, a game by Valve (The guys behind Half Life, Portal, Steam and the Gaben meme.) which consists of two games, Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, commonly known as L4D and L4D2.
L4D was released in November 2008, and L4D2 followed almost exactly a year later in November 2009. In both games, you play as a group of four survivors making their way through several linear campaigns, all set in different environments. As you move through these campaigns, you and the rest of your team, be they other players online or AI controlled bots, must fend off hordes of zombies and the more powerful Special Infected, each with their own powers.
Enough history already, what is the gameplay like?
Wow, aren't you just an impatient little shit? Fine then... The gameplay is exactly what you would expect from a typical FPS zombie game, a shit ton of zombies and more ammo than a human being could feasibly carry. Honestly, I have no idea where they store all that ammo, and I probably don't want to know... ANYWAY, moving away from possibly storing ammunition in anal cavities, there are five campaigns, each separated into 4 or 5 different levels. The aim of each of the levels is to make it from one safe room to the other, with each safe room situated at opposite ends of the map, while fighting through large hordes of infected that randomly spawn, all controlled by the AI Director.
These common infected are simple to kill, and rather cathartic in a way. But the Special Infected are what you have to look out for. These heavily mutated versions of the infected have but one goal: to make your life as fucking miserable as humanly possible. There are 8 types of SI, each of them with special abilities the commons don't have. The Spitter spits acid balls at you which do incredible amounts of damage. The Boomer vomits on you and attracts a horde of common infected to attack you, while also obscuring your vision. The Jockey, Smoker and Charger all have virtually the same goal: To separate you from your team and make you helpless. The jockey jumps on you and steers you into danger, the Charger does exactly what its name suggests, charges at you, and the smoker pulls you away with its long, rope like tongue. Personally, I fucking hate the Jockey. It is too damn small and difficult to hit.
Now, those Special Infected alone are a challenge, but then there are two more that take it to a whole new level. The Tank and the Witch. Witches are most known for their eerie crying, which announces their presence. Initially, they are passive to you, but if you get too close, they become angry and come at you like a bat out of hell, not stopping until either you, or her bite the dust. Problem is, she can run faster than you can, and her claws will incapacitate you in one strike, or simply kill you on higher levels. Not something you want to mess with at all.
The Tank... well, that explains itself. A massive beast with a massive amount of health and massive damage. It takes the concentrated fire of an entire team to take the bastard down in anything resembling quickly. And even then, it can do a hell of a lot of damage to you if you let it get close enough.
All of these Special Infected types, coupled with the varied environments, make the game an interesting challenge for both new players and veterans of the game.
So, any overall thoughts on this?
Well... for all the fun that this game has, after a while it ends up doing a thing that no game should ever do to someone. It began to get tedious, monotonous and repetetive. Once you get into a routine and find a weapon that you like, it becomes less of a survival and more of a grind. Sure, the Tank and Witch encounters mix things up a little bit, but those are few and far between, only occuring a few times within each campaign. Even the crescendo events become rather predictable and easy to deal with.
That isn't to say I didn't enjoy L4D immensely, it is a perfect game to pass the time with, but playing it for long periods loses its fun quite quickly. Sadly, I wasn't able to touch on the online play aspects of the games due to my PC not having an internet connection, so I'm unable to say anything on that section of the game. But what I have played is a lot of fun, and definitely a game I would recommend to others.
Reviewed by Nihilus Nix Naught