Demo Daze: Left 4 Dead

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After finally managing to get early access to the Left 4 Dead demo last night, I shut the curtains, turned off the lights and sat down for what I hoped would be a great gaming experience.

I’m a huge fan of the zombie genre in any shape or form, be it movies, books or games. I think I may have been one of the only people I know who was disappointed with Dead Rising, for me the time limitations and large amounts of terrible escort quests ruined what should have been a fun game. At first I didn’t want to get too excited for the game in case it couldn’t live up to the hype, but the more of the game I saw, the less I could help myself.

The premise behind Left 4 Dead for those unfamiliar with the game is simply survival, you aren’t trying to kill all the zombies or save mankind, just your own skin. The story centres around four survivors trying to escape a zombie infested city using whatever means necessary. The demo contains two levels from the co-op campaign which you can play with up to three others.

On the first run-through we decided to leave the difficulty at advanced rather than go the whole hog and pick expert. This turned out to be a good idea, as I found out I turn into a giant, pant-wetting girl when a horde of thirty or so zombies rush me. The way the scenarios work in L4D is that an AI ‘director’ controls the spawns of all the enemies, including the boss-type creatures. This leads to a different experience on every single playthrough.

The two levels available are set in a city, and the subway tunnels beneath it, giving a true zombie-movie feel to the escape as the setting is so familiar. At the end of each scenario is a safe room that you need to reach and shut the door behind you. The team-mate recovery system also plays an integral part, essentially giving you three “lives” before actual death if a team-mate can pick you up off the floor in time.

This is literally the first game in an extremely long time that has had me constantly on edge, listening for every little noise. I think the first time I came across a Tank I physically shrieked into the headset as it leapt onto my face to fulfil it’s rapely duties. The graphics are good, especially for something done in the source engine. All that’s left for me to decide is which platform to get the game on, because this is definitely a must buy title. I was leaning more towards PC for the modding scene and what I assumed would be superior controls. However after playing on the 360 I can happily say that the controls are very tight, they much exceeded my expectations. I have the sneaking suspicion I may end up owning the title on both platforms eventually, especially with the generous price-points Valve games usually receive.

Watch out for our full impressions when the game releases and four of us whores battle it out to survive extinction.

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