Left 4 Dead – a survival fps

Posted: January 3, 2012 in Games, Zombies

Although the likelihood of an apocalyptic pandemic by the Zombie Virus might be a rather small one, I found it very thrilling…probably the most thrilling of all (is thrilling the right word, regarding we are talking about the end of the world?…who cares). While most other post-apocalyptic scenarios contain a huge death toll, a hazardous environment (such as contaminated areas), food shortage, breakdown of civilisation and infrastructure, rivaling groups fighting for the last resources…the Zombie Apocalypse has one extra feature that spices everything up! Exactly! Zombies! The world is a totally different one when everybody who used to be all of a sudden wants a bite of you.

The Zombie Outbreak of Left 4 Dead (2008) is a little different to most movies & games. While one bite usually means certain death, our four protagonists are immune to the virus, which only helps a little if everybody else is turned into an extreme aggressive mindless freak. This difference results in basing the virus on a rabies-like pathogen (like in Quarantine) rather than on Solanum (like in Dawn of the Dead).
Two weeks after the first infection, Bill, Zoey, Francis and Louis are trapped on the roof of an apartment building surrounded by zombies. Not only that, they just found out that some of the infected have mutated and gained special abilities (more to that later). Now the normal infected are the easy ones to fight off.

Before I get to the gameplay, just as important: the atmosphere of the game. The game developers put very much effort in creating the feel for a post-apocalyptic atmosphere and succeeded with flying colours. It is dark and chaotic, sometimes your torch is the only illumination you have (and when you knock back a zombie it points to up the ceiling, leaving you unaware for a second where the next one might come from). The levels contain so many details, starting with the “US Army Survival Handbook” next to a dead body on the very first roof top to graffitis in the safe rooms along the way, telling stories of other survivors. When you hit a car with an alarm your adrenalin just rushes through your veins as the horde of zombies rushes attracted by the noice.

So they decide to leave the roof and fight their way through to an evacuation zone on top of the Mercy Hospital . This is the first campaign of Left 4 Dead. Each campaign is supdivided into several chapters. In this case the way from the roof-top to the nearest subway station(1), through the subway tunnels(2) to a different building, across the city streets and sewers to the hospital(3),  through the hospital (4) and a grand final battle on the roof top (5)before the helicopter evacuates them.

You can play this in singleplayer modus, but the fun starts when you play it in multiplayer modus as playing as a team rewards you with…well, survival 🙂 because this is where the special infected and their abilities come into action.
For example there is the hunter, a quick zombie that pounces from roof tops and knocks it’s victims off their feet. Once on them it furiously gashs their face and chest open and has to be either killed or shoved of the helpless victim by a team member.
I just wrote “the fun starts”…can this be exceeded? Four human players fighting of hordes of zombies and mean special infected, acting as a team to survive is just the starting part? Well, my favourite game mode is called “Versus” and it takes eight human players for that. Four playing as the  humans and the other four as special infected. It takes lots of teamplay and strategy to bring down the surviving team, but so does staying alive. Each team plays each chapter once as survivors and once as infected, depending on how far each team got as the survivors points are given out and the team with most points at the end of the campaign wins.

So who doesn’t know this game, here is the Trailer & Intro movie which is a great peace of cinematic art in itself…and leaves you right at the roof top where it all starts.


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