Left 4 Dead is the Co-Op Game of the Forever
The public is about to get the most addictive demo I’ve ever played dropped on their Steam clients and Xbox Live Marketplaces. While I’ve played the PC version way too much, I haven’t had a chance to play its 360 counterpart, but almost every impression I’ve come across on the web with regards to the latter is exceeding positive. Even moreso than the PC version — but that would be due to shitty matchmaking taking the place of a server list. Console gamers may be used to matchmaking. but if Valve doesn’t at least add a custom server browser in the PC version, there will be internet rioting. Nonetheless, once a game is up and running on a good server with four people, it’s easily the most fun I’ve had gaming this year.
The brilliance of the game lies in the simple premise of surviving a zombie apocalypse taken to its highest level of replayability and unpredictability. The two go hand-in-hand, and the difference in every playthrough can be attributed to The Director, the AI constructed by Valve that controls zombie attacks, health pack location, weapon drops — pretty much everything other than the physical structure of the level itself. Does your group suck? Then the Director won’t spawn that tank zombie right around the corner. Taking too long? Zombie swarm incoming. The Director — combined with the variation between human partners — makes for an amazingly unique experience every time. And this is just the very first (not even full) two levels out of 20. I’ve played the demo for 10 hours. Ten hours for less than 1/10 of the game, not including the other modes. Some of that may be due to not wanting to touch my 360 games until my new HDTV arrives, but the demo is undoubtedly incredible.
It is so transcedent that I may have to double-dip, as most of my friends will be buying it for 360, and I want to kill zombies with the same people I would kill them with if there were a real-life zombie apocalypse. We need to formulate strategies and assign roles. Not to mention the split-screen capability. I’ll just have to see how well I get accustomed to using the 360 controller to play a Source-engine game. That’s going to be weird.
My own PC leanings aside, Left 4 Dead is poised to become the massive word-of-mouth hit of this holiday season. This demo just might be the Call of Duty 4 beta of 2008. We will see starting tomorrow. Don’t let me down, my fellow gamers.