Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Left 4 Dead

I played quite a bit of Left 4 Dead today at work. One of the benefits of being in the game industry is that you sometimes need to do 'research' on a competitor. Of course, 'research' can take a while, as you really need to get to the heart of the game to fully evaluate it.

Needless to say, I love 'research.'

So, what do I think? The single player campaign is a solid B or B+. The AI is generally rather smart and can competently deal with the rampaging zombie hordes. They help you out, kill things, and are generally solid.

The Co-op campaign is a more difficult one to judge. I played a couple hours of co-op and it was a blast. However, not all players are created equal, so your mileage may vary. I can honestly say that with a coordinated, competent group that worked together, co-op would be an easy A or A+. However, I can easily see playing in a pick-up group being a nightmare, especially if you happen to fall in with a group of, how shall we say, 'dickwads.'

A few quibbles:
The areas are loosely populated with random undead, which are easy to pick off with pistols. Every so often, a 'horde' attacks and you get ten to twenty seconds of mayhem. Once the horde is dispatched, you go back to picking off strays. This cycle repeats throughout the game and once you get used to it, it's fairly predictable. 'Hey,' you might think, 'I just cleared a farmhouse, bet a horde will show up' and it will.

The gatling guns which are scattered about overheat and have a really limited firing angle. They're practically useless, though they can do bad things to a Tank if you get lucky. And honestly, gatling guns don't really overheat. That's why they have six or more barrels (that's why they're so widely used).

The shotgun seems to be the uber-weapon. You can take down any number of zombies in the blast area, so if you time it right, you can eliminate an entire horde in two or three shots.

The other weapons are okay, but I don't see a reason for the hunting rifle. The action tends to be close and fast, so sniping doesn't seem to be particularly useful. I haven't tried it yet, but I will.

Good things:
The characters look amazing. They have great dialogue and seem to have real personalities. I would occasionally forget they're AI and start trying to give them orders.

All the guns I've used so far are fun and do the job. I especially like the M-16 and the combat shotgun.

The sound effects are great. You eventually learn what sounds each of the bosses make, so once you hear it, you're instantly on guard and scanning for them. It's a great and subtle way of conveying information to the players.

The two movies I've played have been varied and fun. They've kept to their 'milieu' well and are believable environments. Sometimes, I'm not sure where exactly to go, but I've never gotten lost and actually, it feels believable in the situation.

Overall, I would totally recommend Left 4 Dead to any FPS fan. And even if you're not, download the demo and play with a couple of friends, you might be surprised at how much fun you're having.



matt said...

I completely agree with you. Left 4 Dead is an awsome game. But the only really good weapons are the shotguns. The uzi and M4 might have a lot of ammo, bt they just chew through all of that ammo halfway through the map.

I love playing as infected. In order to get the most out of that game, you must play a versus campain.

Drakona said...

The sniper rifle is close to useless against hordes; if you're using it and you get swarmed, it's pretty much all melee for you. Which is not too bad, really; melee rocks.

The sniper rifle is about defense against boss infected. Smoker halfway across the courtyard? Headshotted. Hunter pounce someone across the room? One-shotted. Smoker pulling someone in? He'll never get there. If you've got someone good on the sniper rifle, it saves the whole team a lot of damage from special infected.

I love playing as the designated sniper. I think most teams need one (though only one). You have to be patient, you have to be team-oriented, and you have to be willing to look pretty sucky during some of the more dramatic moments of the game (and run like a little girl from tanks). But man, do you get some of the best kills.

Jason Janicki said...

I actually use pistols most of the time. I only pull out the shotgun when there are hordes incoming. Otherwise, you end up empty half-way through.

Huh. I'll have to try sniping some afternoon with a good group. There is an Achievement for one-shotting a Witch, so that's probably the weapon for that.