Left 4 Dead: the game that got me playing on the PC, and its worthy sequel

I was raised a console gamer from the age of 6. More specifically, a PlayStation gamer (PlayStation, PS2, PS3...). In fact, to this day, I still remember when my dad first brought home the original PlayStation and all of the game demos that came with it. I was so fond of my PlayStation gaming experience that until two or three years ago, console games were really the only ones I ever considered playing. Afterall, the most popular games on the PC that I knew of were things like WoW and Call of Duty, which didn't really interest me in the slightest. So for a long time, I stuck to my Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Prince of Persia, Shadow of the Colossus, and so on. But one day, that all changed.

My dad got an issue of Game Informer in the mail and after bickering with my brothers over who got to read it first, I finally got the chance to flip through it. About halfway in was a brief preview (with lots of pretty pictures that made it seem not-so-brief) of Left 4 Dead. I was instantly enticed. Not only did it star hordes zombies, which I have had a sort of infatuation with for as long as I can remember, but it emphasized the idea of tactical cooperation and the delicate functionality between the four playable characters. Basically, if you couldn't work well as a team, you were screwed. How cool was that? I didn't even know about being able to play the Special Infected or Versus Mode until later. After all of this excitement, however, my heart was effectively crushed when I searched the page for its system availability, only to find that it was for the XBox 360 and the PC only. At the time, I didn't have my own computer so the possibility of playing it on the PC didn't even cross my mind, and I certainly wasn't going to be able to afford a 360 any time soon.

So some time passed and when I had forgotten about the game almost completely, it was released and my boyfriend showed it to me on his computer. At first, I was stubborn and prejudiced, as we gamers tend to be. I was so familiar with playing on the PlayStation that the PC made me feel like a nub. All of those years of experience with a controller in my hand seemed to mean nothing now, and that made me uncomfortable. But then I saw the intro to the game.

Holy crap. I was thrilled in a sort of terrified way. Not only was the intro exciting and fun to watch, but it revealed precisely what made the game special. As a player, you had to constantly be astute to what was happening around you. Where are your fellow Survivors? Do they need help? What kinds of infected are nearby? Left 4 Dead is a game that has so many captivating and unpredictable elements to it, making it a truly unique gaming experience...if not a little stressful and intense, especially in Versus Mode. There's lots that a player needs to be aware of at all times like which route is the best, what items you should grab, what you should do if you encounter a Tank or a Witch, etc. Not to mention all of the wicked fun you can have as a Special Infected. But even then, the strategy shared between yourself and the rest of your team is crucial to success, which makes it different (and in my opinion, more likable) than most first-person shooters that emphasize little more than your kill/death ratio. If that's not your cup of tea, though (it's totally mine), there's lots of fun to be had in Campaign, Survival, and even Single-Player mode.

About a year after Left 4 Dead was released, its sequel, Left 4 Dead 2, was released as well. A lot of people (including myself) found this kind of annoying for financial reasons if nothing else (who wants to fork over $80-100 for two games from the same franchise in one year?) , but the trailers proved genuinely alluring. So I ended up pre-ordering it, of course.

With the addition of a few new Special Infected and melee weapons, among other features that make the game more variable than the first, Left 4 Dead 2 is very similar to its predecessor in that it sticks to the same line of gameplay. Players must rely on both their intuitive and strategic skills to get from point A to point B, hopefully still in one piece. What is unfortunate to me is that with the new characters and environments, a lot of the original Left 4 Dead's charm and horror seems to have been dissolved. However, L4D 2 is full of funny character quotes and unique settings that make it genuinely enjoyable in its own right. Valve also seems to be taking care to make sure that the game doesn't "get old" any time soon with weekly "Mutation" modes and the occasional new map. If all else fails...Ellis is incredibly sexy. I think so, anyway.

Images were found in several different places around the web and are (presumably) the property of Valve.

No comments:

Post a Comment