If there’s one thing I’m truly looking forward to, it’s the imminent Zombie Apocalypse. With the amount of zombie games being thrown at us, it’s quite obvious that the world’s governments are trying to get us ready for something. And if Left 4 Dead is anything to go by, then we are in for some exciting times.
Follow the jump to find out moreâ€¦
Four survivors in an epic struggle
As soon as you start the game you realise that Valve specifically designed it in is such a way that it feels like you are part of a movie. The loading screen for instance is a poster showing the 4 Survivors (Louis, Zoey, Bill & Francis) and your name above one of theirs, as if you are an actor playing the character. There really isn’t much of a story behind the game, there doesn’t need to be. The whole idea is quite simpleâ€¦ get from point A to point B while trying to keep alive. I reiterate, trying. Even though the whole object is quite simpleâ€¦ it’s doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
There are 3 different types of game play. There’s the single player, for those unfortunate people that don’t have internet access. Playing the single player, you soon realise that the game was not really developed to be played this way. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the gameplay and the AI in this game is above excellent but without the interaction of other people it’s just not that enjoyable. As such I did not spend that much time in the single player and because the co-op campaign and single player is exactly the same, I can say that I did not miss anything.
The co-op on the other hand is everything that the single player is not. As soon as some other human player joins the fray, the dynamics in the game changes totally. Being able to strategise with someone else helps a lot, especially at the higher difficulties in the game.
The whole point of the single & co-op campaign is to survive and fight through the zombie hordes to a destination where someone (in a helicopter or boatâ€¦ or whatever) can save you. Each Survivor is equipped with a M1911 pistol, this is the only weapon with unlimited ammo and also the only weapon that a Survivor can use when he’s incapacitated. At the start of each level you get to choose between an Uzi submachine gun and a pump-action shotgun but luckily you can usually upgrade somewhere along the way. You can also equip (and I highly recommend it, if you can find some) a medic pack, Molotov cocktail or pipe-bomb and some pain pills. Each level is divided into sections, with safe houses along the way. At each safe house you can restock ammo, health packs etc. and then do it all over again. This is above all a very team based gameâ€¦ if you are planning to play Rambo and run by yourself, you will die. If you are incapacitated you need one of your teammates to help you up. While he’s valiantly helping you, it’s your duty to keep the horde of zombies off his back (using your trusty pistol). Healing other teammates or handing them pain pills is also encouraged. The more Survivors you are the better chance of actually surviving
There are 6 different types of Infected. Your almost run-of-the-mill-everyday-brain-eating zombies, I say â€œalmostâ€ as unlike your normal undead zombies these zombies move damn fast. Above and beyond those are 5 special classed zombies. The Hunter, an agile Infected that pounce on the Survivors from long distances. The Boomer (no, it doesn’t say â€œBoomâ€ like the one in Gears of War), a bloated Infected whose vomit blinds the player and attracts the horde. The Smoker, and Infected that seems to have been crossed by a chameleon. It’s got a long tongue that it uses to ensnares Survivors and upon death explodes into a smoke screen that obscures the Survivors view. The Tank, a huge bodybuilding Infected that is extremely strong and the most difficult to kill and lastly; the Witch, a passive (cry-baby) Infected that when startled by sound, light or a inquisitive Survivor goes into crazy-b#tch mode and attacks her provoker.
Lights, cameras, action!
The AI in this game is very dynamic and is excellently programmed. The whole campaign is controlled by an AI Director. Instead of enemies spawning at fixed points, the Director places them and items in varying positions and quantities based upon each player’s current situation, status, skill and location, thus creating a new experience for each play through. The Director also creates mood and tension with emotional cues, such as visual effects, dynamic music, and character communication.
In addition to the AI Director, there is a second Director that controls music. The music Director monitors what a player has experienced to create an appropriate mix. The process is client-side and done by a multi-track system.
The last game type is versus, this is where player is pitted against player. In this mode 4 extra players can take control of the Special Infected (all except the Witch which stays computer controlledâ€¦ you wouldn’t want to sit around and cry for most of the game). Each player randomly gets assigned to one of the 4 available classes, however the Tank gets spawn less frequently. The Infected have the ability to see Survivors through the walls every time a Survivor runs, talks, or fires a weapon; a Survivor who remains quiet by crouching or walking instead of running gradually fades from the Infected’s vision. Throughout a Versus campaign, each group of four players plays each section (between safe houses) of the campaign as both Survivor and Infected, swapping sides once per section. At the end of each section, the team playing the Survivors earns points based on how well they performed.
The game is really so enjoyable that the graphics in the game isn’t even something that most people would worry about. The graphics aren’t groundbreaking but in a game this fun, who cares? The sound on the other hand is excellent, you can hear a horde of zombies sprinting your way; the boomer gurglingâ€¦ the smoker coughingâ€¦ the hunter growlingâ€¦ the witch crying. It all helps to create a very tension filled environment.
That’s a wrap
The minimum specifications for your PC to run this is fairly low and not outrageous, needing a 3.0Ghz Pentium 4 or AMD64. Only 128MB video card (should be DirectX 9 compatible) and 1GB Ram for XP, 2GB for Vista. A very, very fun game to play and thanks to the AI Director every time I play this, it’s a different experience. A definite must-have.
Gameplay: 9/10 [There’s zombiesâ€¦ nuff sed] Presentation: 8/10 [The graphics aren’t state of the artâ€¦ but who cares?] Sound: 9.5/10 [*Glug-glug-blubber-gurgle-gurgle*] Value: 9.5/10 [AI Director keeps the game interesting]
Overall: 9/10 [Go buy itâ€¦ NOW!!]
Last Updated: January 29, 2009