Tucked-away in Valve’s Meeting Room at E3 2008 was a playable build of Left 4 Dead, one of the highest profile titles coming in the latter half of this year. “Left 4 Dead is Valve’s attempt to fill gamers’ desire for a dynamic and engaging co-operative action experience,” said Doug Lombardi, VP of marketing at Valve. “This has been validated by the press, who are calling it one of the most anticipated titles of the year.”
Valve have become famous through only a handful of titles – the Half-Life series and Counter-Strike – and their hard-won reputation for delivering quality products has gamers the world-over salivating at their next proposal – co-operatively surviving a zombie apocalypse.
Set in the modern day, Left 4 Dead casts four players in the role of a group of survivors “in an epic struggle against hordes of swarming zombies and terrifying “Boss Infected” mutants.”
Running on the Counter-Strike: Source engine, Left 4 Dead doesn’t feature a traditional Campaign structure, instead offering four scenarios to the player. Each features four “Average Joe” characters for the players to slip into, each of which is simply stated to represent the standard array of people you’d commonly find in an urban setting. The action is scaled depending on you’re teams performance. Hacking down zombies left-and-right with abandon will see the waves continually coming, whilst having a team-mate struggle may see the quantity thin-out. The Intelligent Zombie Wave System does well to measure the player’s performance, and not only decides how many, where and when the zombies will attack, but also how – allowing entrances from air vents, elevator shafts and even the ability to bust through doors.
Player can attack either with their equipped weapon, or a melee attack that will force enemies backwards – a life saver when reloading. Your arsenal includes a selection of an M16 Assault Rifle, Shotgun, dual Pistols and projectiles such as Pipe Bombs and Molotov Cocktails. Weaponry can typically be found in Safe Houses, areas crossing intersections between Level Checkpoints, which also allow players to heal themselves.
Team play comes into focus throughout the game, with basics such as boosting players over walls, healing each other and saving one another from a marauding zombie pack, but also in areas in which the team are forced to fight as one unit. Unlike other recent co-operative titles such as Army of Two, straying-out on your own will most certainly seal your doom.
Left 4 Dead is currently a fantastic experience when left to a basic four-player Co-Operative Survival title. However, when factoring in the added – yet currently unseen – option to expand the game to up to eight players, with a second four playing as the “Boss Infected” zombies, each with their own unique abilities, Left 4 Dead all-of-a-sudden becomes one of the most enticing online prospects on the calendar in 2008. Due for worldwide launch in November on both PC and Xbox360 – of which Electronic Theatre has been assured both versions are “virtually identical” – you can expect a lot more on Left 4 Dead to be coming very soon indeed.