I must have been a really good girl this year because Santa was kind enough to bring me the best online multiplayer FPS game I have played all year. Gears of War 2, you were a glitchy disappointment.
Left4Dead is literally what the game’s title suggests. You play through severalvignettes, or campaigns, as one of four survivors left in a town where zombies are devouring the entire city. Your primary goal is to make it out of the city alive without sacrificing anyone. Your character can also revive, heal, and defend another survivor; all while trying to make it to the next safe room.
While Left4Dead could be billed as just another typical zombie shooter, a la Resident Evil; there is a unique twist. Left4Dead takes advantage of the new XBox experience. You can party up with four buds through XBox Live and battle these baddies online. Or you can leave your party open for everyone to join and assist you in your zombie killing rampage.
Left4Dead has some interesting additions that I think everyone would appreciate. First, is the achievement counter. We’ve all pretty much seen it in Gears of War 2, the little counter that pop-ups letting you know you how much you have left to reach a certain achievement. Left4Dead takes this a step further and gives you the exact number that you have completed for a particular achievement. It’s comforting to know that, so far, I’ve only cremated about 50 zombies so I have about 51 more to go before I get the 101 cremations achievement. Go achievements!
Another cool addition is the “Take a Break” feature which replaces your character with a bot to take your place while you go off and do some quick errands or maybe even, um, take a bathroom break. That’s definitely better than pausing the game and telling everyone, “Hold on, guys! Gotta take a leak! BRB!”
Overall, the gameplay is fairly similar to any other FPS. You’ll find it really easy to just pick up a controller and start bashing a few zombie heads in. However, I can argue that there is no real story to the game since I’m used to being interrupted with obstructive CG cut scenes as I play. But you will not find them here. The story develops through the interaction between you and that other survivors as well as through the writings on the walls. Previous survivors, who might not have been as lucky as you, were kind enough to scribble notes onto the walls throughout the city. Notes to loved ones letting them know where to meet or warning others of the dangers that lie ahead. A welcomed change since sometimes all we really want to do is just run around and blow up things anyways.
Online was surprising smooth. No lag or disconnects at all. And we’re talking right through Christmas weekend, which one year ago XBox Live was littered with connection issues.
Lastly, the overall campaign is extremely short. You can complete the entire game in around 6 hours or so. But there is so much replay value in the game that I wouldn’t see a short campaign as being a major problem for some.
Left4Dead is a definite buy for anyone who loves playing FPS with buddies online as well as for the zombie movie fan. Awesome graphics and perfect for playing alone in the dark!