So, Left 4 Dead is pretty cool. Â It is, for sure, the best zombie survivor game I’ve ever played. Â And I certainly enjoy it in co-op. Â But I can’t help but feel a little let down, because honestly, there are so many little things they’ve done which either ruin the experience, or at the least, pull you out of the game. Â
First though, things I like. Â The pacing of the game is, for the most part, fantastic. Â It doesn’t suffer turtlers, and it doesn’t mind killing people who rush headlong in to the fray. Â Except… death doesn’t really mean death reallyÂ in L4D. Â Which is a good thing. Â The system is ridiculously forgiving and allows for many frantic situations where you are trying to save someone when everything is going to shit around you. Â I don’t know how many times we’ve only just made it in to the next safe house. Â (It’s worth noting that so far I’ve only played on Advanced mode, based on input from friends. Â And frankly, on advanced sometimes it feels a little too easy.)
The knockdown mechanic, instead of death, is a fantastic method of keeping the player in the game. Â And there’s nothing more awesome than being knocked down and being able to continue blowing zombie heads in to paste. Â I’ve had moments where I was knocked down, but I still managed to save people nearby from special zombies.
They also do a lot of things to help create tension. Â You can’t just use a healthpack. Â You have to apply a health pack, and it takes time. Â And it can be interrupted. Â You almost never have enough ammo to reach the next ammo pile. Â There are alwaysÂ more zombies. Â Using a flashlight draws so much attention that it’s often better to skip it if you aren’t in pitch black. Â
The game is good at mixing things up. Â Things rarely happen exactly the same, and you can’t really prepare too much for what will happen, or expect things to go the same way twice. Â Which is really great when you are playing on a high difficulty, as it keeps the game fresh.Â
Which is sorely needed, because it is a very limited and very repetitive game. Â Not to say it’s not still fun… but after you’ve played for a half hour, you’ve seen everything. Â There’s the odd new event, and the scenery changes, but really, after a half hour, you can safely say you’ve experienced the game. Â I’ve put five hours in it, and seen two of the campaigns through to the end, and I feel like if I stopped playing today, I wouldn’t miss much more.Â
The things I don’t like about the game, however, are things that I hope are either tweaked through modding, if possible, or added in later patches. Â For one, there needs to be a game mode which turns off music for all players. Â Maybe not all the music, but certainly the event music, which lets you know really early what’s about to happen, so that the game never really catches you off guard. Â Sure, it happens once in a while… but that becomes really rare once you recognize what each piece of music means. Â
Second, there needs to be a mode which turns off monster outlines. Â And you know, maybe even player outlines if they are within your line of sight. Â Sometimes it just feels so gamey with these bright outlines letting you know exactly what’s going on. Â The game supports voice, so why not use it? Â I want to play with friends and I want to have to communicate with them, and understand what’s going on. Â But the outlines are just a method of handholding which is all too common in games nowadays.
Third, there needs to be a co-op versus mode, where if you pick survivor, you are always a survivor, and it works the same as normal co-op, completely transparent. Â It doesn’t let you know if the other zombies are controlled by players or not. Â And then random people can jump in, control infected, and surprise you. Â But it’s hard to be surprised when you knowÂ there’s a player controlling the enemy.
Oh, and one thing, which I think is a bug fix as much as anything else. Â I want to be able to see the outlines from everyone else’s flashlight. Â That would be ridiculously more immersive and nothing would be more awesome than jumping at your own shadow in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.Â
I enjoy the game, and I hope it gets some tweaks, because it has potential to be way better than it actually is. Â However, it will suffice as a pretty damn fun version of a zombie apocalypse, even if not a very real one.