LEFT 4 DEAD Xbox360 Video Game Review

     December 4, 2008

Reviewed by Brett Weinstock

I have always been a fan of games made by Valve. Whether it be the original Counter-Strike or Half Life, or last years remarkable Orange Box, they are one of the best game developers around. That being said, Left 4 Dead is an absolutely incredible game and needs to be in any gamer’s collection. Though it does have a few short comings, they are easy to ignore when the game play is this fun and intense. Valve has definitely done it again, and all will enjoy this game in any of its various modes. Though the co-op is really the star of the show here, nobody will be disappointed by the single player or versus experience.

In Left 4 Dead, you play as one of four characters that have been left to fend for themselves in a zombie apocalypse. The opening five-minute cinematic is so intense that you feel you are about to take part in a real zombie film…it was awesome! Trust me, this is NOT another Resident Evil clone by any means. In fact, other than the zombie premise, this game is nothing like RE or Dead Rising. This is a first person shooter, the zombies are fast moving and strategic, the action is wild and adrenaline pumping, and the emphasis here is to stick together or die. This is where the co-op really shines- playing solo on the harder difficulties can almost prove to be a chore, since the zombies are sometimes relentless. The zombies come in six forms and they are different from anything you’ve ever seen. From the simple “horde” form to the terrifying “witch” there is always a good variety in each level and trust me when I say that strategy is vital. If you want to run and gun into a room filled with a “boomer” (fat zombies that vomit and attract an endless horde) and a “hunter” (zombies that jump on you, pinning you down and clawing you into submission), you will probably face death on multiple occasions. The strength of teamwork and strategy can not be stressed enough, but it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment level at all.

This game truly shines in multiplayer. As you are one of four people, you must rely on one another to survive. Moving as a group and defending one another is the only way to ensure success. Though the characters look and sound different, they all have the same attributes, abilities, weapon accessibilities, etc. What makes this game so different from the norm is that your own choices come in to make the game a different experience. Zombies usually don’t appear in the same place twice, so reloads will almost always lead to a different play through, no matter how slight the change is. Using the headset is key, and I gotta say that its really fun to call out “reloading” so your teammates will cover you. Since you can see everyone’s health bar, you have the option of healing yourself or a damaged teammate, the choice is always yours. Adding a unique twist, Valve causes everyone to fail a mission if one team member dies…again, strategy is always vital!

Versus mode is also pretty fun, but it lacked a little in my opinion. The basis here is simple- play as zombies or humans and survive the attack from the opposing team. Playing as the zombies is actually really cool because you get to be one of the unique types in each round and tormenting the human players is a blast. This mode also demands strategy but I didn’t like the way the games were set up. Instead of your typical death match where everyone runs around dealing death, these were played on the exact same maps and setups as the single player and co-op modes. It felt like playing the co-op mode against smarter zombies…though fun, it got a little old to not see some new environments or experiences. Not a huge knock, but it irked me a little bit.

The graphics here are what you expect from Valve- good from afar, and that slight grainy look up close. I happen to be a fan of this design, and adding zombies made it have a “Grindhouse” style feel. The Source Engine powers the physics again, and its phenomenal. That being said, there are the occasional glitches that hold the game back and some minor collision detection. This was most noticeable when a teammate was in front of you and you could walk right through them. Again, not huge problems, but I am just nitpicking since there is so little to complain about. The sound is also pretty eerie, and truly felt like playing through a zombie film. There was nothing overdone, no terrible voice acting, and no silly score to accompany your journey through the towns.

Overall, this game is fantastic. I was honestly skeptical at first, since it seemed like a repetitive game. I was honestly wrong, and this game truly adds to the horror/zombie genre. Though the single player lacks the flair and excitement of the co-op or versus modes, there is still a lot here to like. I would recommend this game to anyone that likes shooters since it as the frenetic pace of Gears with a strategy similar to “Rainbow Six Vegas.” Valve has done it again, and you must go buy this game.

Game Rating: A

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