All 4 one

Left 4 Dead‘s premise was such a no-brainer (pun intended), I was starting to think no one would ever make it: a four-player cooperative zombie apocalypse.

Having a developer like Valve — known for the high quality of their games — work on it is just icing on the cake. No, actually, it’s more than mere icing. I haven’t played many Valve games, but from what I understand, the high level of polish present in those I have played (Portal and Team Fortress 2) is a trademark of theirs — and Left 4 Dead definitely seems better for it. From the B movie poster loading screens to the fake ads plastered everywhere to the horror film-esque gore, I can’t help but smile (and cringe) when I play.

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In fact, I would say Valve is theoretically the best company there is to handle something like this, since the time I’ve spent with Team Fortress 2 really shows that they get what will and will not work when you want people to play as a team. The easiest difficulty is a cakewalk, but everything else requires your teammates if you want to avoid becoming a mob’s lunch. Much like TF2, a careful balance is struck between the freedom to do what you want –- like rampage with a shotgun –– and the need to be mindful of your friends; otherwise, who’s going to free you when you’re pinned to the floor by a corpse that hungers for your living flesh?

I’ve never been a fan of standard “team” deathmatch multiplayer, since it always feels like you’re playing next to the guys on your team, rather than with them; I prefer something with more of a cooperative mechanic to it, like Team Fortress 2 and (theoretically) Metal Gear Online. Left 4 Dead, so far, seems to be the best entry into this esteemed category. Of course, I would assume this is also present in what is arguably the game’s most interesting aspect: the ability to play on the Infected side. I only have access to the Xbox Live demo, though, so I’m unable to try that out just yet. But let’s be honest, here: having a friend herd humans your way so you can puke all over them is the very definition of teamwork. I’m so excited about the full release I can hardly wait.

…Even if the zombies can run.

14 thoughts on “All 4 one

  1. I was looking forward to L4D but this demo left me cold. Just so blase and boring. Didnt really seem to be much to it. Additioanlly it seems like 55$ is kinda a steep price for a game with no (worthwhile) offline mode.

  2. The video guys on the other side of my cubicle wall have been playing this non-stop for days. It’s seriously like there’s an action movie going on over there, with the players constantly spouting corny Hollywood zombie movie dialogue to their co-op partners. “Here they come!” “I’m down. Shoot me before they get me.” I admire the game simply for the multiplayer dynamic it creates.

  3. chud – if you’re not playing it online with Talking Time, you’re Doing It Wrong ™. Seriously, it’s fantastic with friends.

    parish – Yes, exactly. As I said, “standard” multiplayer is uninteresting to me, but when they create an interesting multiplayer experience, I’m all over it.

  4. @chud66: Did you play the game alone or with a friend? I just tried the demo last night at a friend’s place, and we had a blast just in two-player co-op mode. The game is built around teamwork, which I can appreciate. While $55 is definitely a bit much for any game in my opinion, it does look like it has some lasting value if you can setup teams of two to play the game together.

    On another note, I’m not a fan of 28 Days Later viral “zombies”. The fast-moving undead certainly do have a place in horror lore now, but they’re not zombies. Simon Pegg did a great write-up on such creatures that I think readers here can appreciate in light of this entry:

  5. Squire Anthony echoes my own sentiments regarding multiplayer gaming. Deathmatching (even in a team setting) leaves me decidedly cold. Give me an objective. Give me an opportunity to play in a support role. Give me some teammates I can work with (and that will work with me). Do these things and you’ll get my money pretty much every single time.

  6. Full disclosure – I dont really like FPS’ or Valve in general. I like the multiplayer in principle, but like I said didnt really give me much of a thrill. Demo should have zombie/boss mode in it…

  7. Cute article on running zombies, but it’s not as though George A. Romero created the notion of The Zombie, and hallowed be his rules. Some form of reanimated dead appears in most folklore around the planet, and the exact traits of them vary. If you’re going to contest calling fast moving undead “Zombies”, why not contest Romero calling his shuffling radiated undead “Zombies”, as they have nothing to do with Voodoo which certainly predates Romero’s mythos? I see nothing wrong with tweaking the mythos to suit the needs of the story/game/whatever, and that’s what Romero did and that’s why we now have fast zombies.

  8. I was a little on the fence about this until I played the demo. It was only then that I truly GOT it. And oh man, now I’m so excited to play this with my friends on Live. I just have decide what’s my favorite weapon to use…

    PS, the decision to have unlimited ammo for the pistol…GENIUS.

  9. MojoBox – but both the Hatian voodoo myths and the very real neurotic drugs in Africa that fueled the creation of the modern “zombie” were drugged/brain dead bodies that, at best, could shuffle about like an incredibly drunk individual. The reanimated dead stuff goes along with that, because these drugs could often make you go comatose – appear dead – for several days before you were awakened and basically turned into a slave.

    All I’m sayin’ is, it’s not like Romero pulled this stuff out of thin air and everyone decided his rules were set in stone. The idea predates that.

  10. I played the demo of this, and I’m left wondering is the final version is as annoying with some of the enemies. I find it kind of dumb a swarm of athletic combies will run up and start punching the crap out of you with little effect, but it only takes a single smoker or hunter to render you completely helpless and unable to do anything as they slowly murder you. I understand the whole point is to encourage teamwork, but to leave you completely defenseless sucks.

  11. Most. Anticipated. Game. This. Fall. Fo’ reals.

    I look forward to surviving the zombie apocolypse with the other Tyrants.

    Also, running zombies=more terrifying. For concrete proof, watch 28 Days Later.

  12. “Left 4 Dead’s premise was such a no-brainer (pun intended), I was starting to think no one would ever make it: a four-player cooperative zombie apocalypse.”

    Er.. wasn’t there a PS2 Resident Evil game that flopped that did EXACTLY this?

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