Saturday, November 8, 2008

Left 4 Dead - Early Demo Impressions

For my pre-order of Left 4 Dead, I got a early demo code. So finally, I was able to try two levels of one of my most anticipated titles of the year! But did it live up to my high expectations?

Hell yes it did. The game throws you into one of the game's earlier chapters and gives you the not so easy task of moving from one safe room to the next. You travel through partially demolished buildings, abandoned subways, and empty streets, fighting the undead along the way.

The controls are responsive and the gameplay is fast. Throughout the level there are places that seem deserted and their are points where you're overwhelmed with zombies. Even deserted areas can become infested if you wait too long. The zombies are constantly surprising you, climbing in through windows behind you, climbing over obstacles to get at you faster, crazy stuff like that.

I played the game online, and I have a suggestion for those of you without a headset, get one. You need to communicate for this game to work in your favor. Let your teammates know when your in trouble, what you see, what you're doing, all of that. Or else you may very well find that you die, leaving your teammates vulnerable and pretty much screwed.

The game really thrives on co-op, just as it's been said many times before. If you don't have your teammates back and keep them alive then you'll all die. I played the game on medium, advanced, and extreme difficulties. While medium is way too easy, extreme mode seemed to be a little too much for my team of 4, and we ended up going with advanced. This gave us an adequate challenge and was the most fun.

If you're worried about the length of this little zombie killing romp, don't. I've played the two demo levels countless times now, each time they where different, and each time they where fun. The versus mode will just add on top of that.

I tried the game in split-screen, and while it was still very fun, I often found myself confused as to what was going on with the smaller screen. This didn't hamper the fun too much, but it was certainly disorientating at points and left me a little confused in the smaller indoor portions.

Another problem, I could occasionally see zombies heads poking through walls. This didn't hamper the fun at all for me, but it could annoy some. Animations didn't always perfectly match the environment either. For example, when picking up a teammate from a ledge I went through a wall and my teammate was floating. Once again, the actual gameplay was unaffected by this, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Overall Left 4 Dead looks to be an instant classic. The rush you get from fighting off dozens of zombies at once is unforgettable, and the number of "holy shit" moments will really keep you coming back again and again. I've walked away from the demo impressed, still greatly look forward to the 18th when I'll get to delve into the full thing. Look for a review of the full game soon after.

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