Pass the Grey Poupon

There are zombie games, then there is Left4Dead.

Left4Dead is a relatively newer game from Valve, the makers of the Half-Life, Portal, and Counter-Strike games(to name a few.) They put their own unique spin on the zombie survival genre and turned it into a team-based deathmatch. Think of it as Counter-Strike meets Resident evil(minus the crappy controls) and you have this gem.

There are 4 different scenarios with 5 different maps, which get progressively harder the further you get; this is campaign mode(4 survivors against AI zombies). Versus mode(4 human controlled survivors against 4 human controlled special zombies, with AI controlled regular zombies) uses 2 of those scenarios right now, but Valve has mentioned that they will be adding more versus scenarios in the future.

The goal of this game is to make you feel like you’re in a zombie movie, and I feel it accomplishes that very well. Each scenario is actually a different “movie” that you play through, and with titles such as “Death Toll”(you fight your way through a highway map) and “Blood Harvest”(Mostly played in the woods, culminating on a farm) you can’t help but chuckle a bit. The four survivors have a fair bit of dialogue, much of it being “Help me up!” or “Get this off of me” etc… though a lot of the things they say usually reflect whats going on around them. For instance, you’ll be passing a flashing car and one of them will tell you not to shoot it or the alarm will sound, calling a massive rush of zombies to ruin your day. Other times they will give a bit of info on the back story before or after an event; to continue through the map you will need to turn on the power of the building you’re in so you can open a large door. The sound from the generators firing up and all the lights coming on triggers a pretty consistent flow of zombies for a good minute or two. They will then talk about the best way to reach the hospital from where they are so they can be air lifted to safety from the hospital roof. Another example is when they’re in the hospital and they have just called the elevator. This too triggers massive amounts of zombies to come at you from all directions for a minute or so. After they finish all the zombies off they hop in the elevator and ride it to the top and engage in some short dialogue. Which survivor(s) do the talking changes every time, but after a few play throughs it will start to sound familiar.

There isn’t a whole lot of back story to the game, which I like and dislike at the same time. While I would like to know a bit more about what caused people to turn into zombies and maybe where each of them come from, it’s not really a story-driven game and works quite well without it. In one of the elevator chats, they talked about being “immune so far”, but in the opening cinematic one of the survivors states that “they’re changing”, so who knows what that means for them.

While this game has barely been out for half a year, there are rumors of Left4Dead 2 already. Whether or not there is any truth to the rumors, i’ll still be enjoying this game for a long time to come.