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Left 4 Dead

“Don’t call it a comeback I’ve been here for years,” said LL Cool J.
The zombie phenomenon is not on the comeback because it really has
never left us. Just as Twilight didn’t bring back the vampire, Pride,
Prejudice and Zombies hasn’t reinvigorated the zombie as a movie
monster. It just made it popular again. In fact, Zombies are a great
monster/villain because they are easy (no character development needed
for them). They also represent the ideal video game enemy because their
endless respawning doesn’t destroy immersion or believability. There
are supposed to be alot of them, because one zombie is a joke even the
fast ones from the remake of Dawn of the Dead need the endless horde to
be the least bit threatening.

Which brings me to my review of Left 4 Dead on the Xbox 360. This game
is about zombies, but unlike some installments of the Resident Evil
franchise there isn’t a convoluted storyline or mystery to solve.
Simply put, this game is about bullets. You play as one of four
characters stranded in the middle of the zombie apocalypse and you have
to get from point A to point B without being eaten. There isn’t a story
per se, there is not much in character development aside from the
various comments from one of the four, it’s simply the recreation of
the last hour of almost any zombie movie. The survival/climax hour.

Which makes the game appear to be rote. It doesn’t matter which of the
four characters you decide to be: they have the same abilities (they
can shoot) and behave interchangeably. Unlike the movies where one
character is an ass trying to save himself and another is some sort of
person with training which influences their respective outcomes neither
of these characters seem to be any different. They look like these
archtypes, the anarchist biker, the war veteran, the business man (who
looks alot like the main character in the original Night of the Living
Dead), and the college girl; but it’s all appearances.

The game accounts for this by focusing on cooperative online play. Each
of the four characters is not meant to be inhabited by the game’s AI,
it is instead meant to be controlled by a person, either sitting next
to you or through the internet. What this does is add to the game a
human dimension to counter balance the repetitive gameplay. Further
adding to that counterbalance is the random spawning aspect to the
program. If you play the same level twice the zombies do not appear in
the same place. This adds tension to the game fitting it nicely to the
zombie apocalypse scenario.

Online play goes beyond the simple storyline too. Adding gaming modes
such as survival in which the end is written, we just have to see how
long the players can hold out. I’ve never made it far past 5 minutes.
Then there is the unique versus scenario.

This runs through the story line with one group of four occupying the
survivors and another group taking control of the zombies. I should
mention (or should have earlier) that the monsters here are not slow
and lumbering. They are fast and can navigate certain obstacles. They
have also mutated giving a leaping predator zombie, a frog tongued
zombie, and a fat zombie that explodes a bile that summons other
zombies to the target. The problem for the zombie side is that the
respawn rate is too slow, making most of the versus play being occupied
by watching the game waiting for your turn as the creatures are still
pretty weak.

It’s a fun game and worth it for the co-op play. However it suffers
from a lack of variety in both characters and weapons (there are only
8). I suppose it could have been much more difficult if they stuck to
the idea that zombies can only die through fire or catastrophic head
trauma, but then it wouldn’t have been that fun.

Story mode: 6/10 Romeros
Online: 7/10 Romeros

Categories: reviews, video game review
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