Valve has been at the forefront of PC gaming since 1996 with their debut game Half-Life launching in 1998, with universal acclaim I might add and it seems that they've done it again.
Left 4 Dead certainly doesn't reinvent or innovate the FPS genre however there's an amount of polish in this first person shooter only present in Valve developed games.
Anywhere from the character animations to the gritty raw graphics with the updated source engine (Protocol 37, Build 3679 / December 5, 2008), it delivers an unprecedented experience so fast and so ferocious that you can't help but to sweat a little when getting chased by human-controlled hunters. It's these idiosyncrasies and obsession to detail that make Valve such a worshiped PC developer.
When you first start the game, it launches with a sensational CGI teaser that definitely peaks your interest and leads into an aesthetically pleasing menu.
From here you can choose to play by yourself (single-player), play with other people (co-op) or play against other people (versus) also adjust the graphics or audio settings according to your preference or your PC requirements.
Taking a look at the actual game once you start you can see the level design is phenomenal and having a high-end graphics card really makes the graphics shine. Lately the source-engine has been catching some flak however this new and updated engine from its predecessor keeps Valve in the graphics race, still showing its consumer that the source engine is still competing in the graphics department.
The best part about this engine is that nearly any card from this generation can run Left 4 Dead, winning consumers over with its one-of-a-kind scalability.
Left 4 Dead plays and embodies a 1980's Zombie B-Film, film grain and all. However there is no narrative meaning there is no story whatsoever. Zombies, guns, escape. That's pretty much the plot, but that doesn't stop this game from excelling in areas and being incredibly fun.
The atmospheric tension could be cut with a knife, Valve perfected the atmosphere in Left 4 Dead it is one of the only games that does it so well with the exception of a story.
The game mechanics work like any other Valve game has developed in the past, very smooth floating mouse control, that being the only real problem with the control mechanics is an empty sense of weight, it might have been a design decision however it feels like your skating on roller blades all the while a zombie holocaust is happening.
Healing is down right fun in this game. To heal you bring up your med-kit (there are four in the beginning of each safe room)and you have to stop to heal yourself in a very realistic way. Applying bandages, gauze pads, which pans out to third person view and forces to be stationary. It's rather speedy but it keeps the tension high because you might get left behind and eaten by rabid flesh eating zombies and player controlled zombies.
Weapons deal an exceptional amount of damage, it's easy to kill hundreds of zombies with the weapons available, even human-controlled zombies are a cinch. The amount of weapons available however is scarce, there are only 8 weapons available other than explosives which include propane tanks and gas tanks.
Human controlled zombies have their own set of skills too, the smoker unleashes his wicked tongue at break-neck speeds to ensnare the remaining survivors from nearly anywhere with his absurdly long tongue, watch the rooftops. Hunters are usually the most preferred zombie next to the tank, with the crouch button firmly held down he can pounce on unsuspecting survivors in which this mode renders the survivors totally vulnerable and unable to retaliate.
Boomers are these portly fellows who spew vomit from their mouths on the survivors which attract the zombie horde, the more you vomit on
the group the more zombies they attract. Finally the Tank, which is a giant zombie consisting his entire upper-body of pure muscle, he can destroy a survivor with one of two punches and rip concrete from its foundation and hurl it godly distances.
My favorite part of the entire game: multi-player. Left 4 Dead features some of the best multi-player any game from any system has ever been graced with.
Each team has four players, four humans vs. four individual controlled zombies (plus hundreds of computer controlled A.I. zombies) which adds up to a total of only eight players. This may seem low compared to other games in recent memory however you'll slowly forget about the lower player count and be completely enthralled in how intense it really is.
If Versus isn't really your thing you can still opt for co-op play, in which you progress through the games level with other people online and fight A.I. zombies which still can be plenty of fun.
Left 4 dead is an extremely fun and addicting game, the amount of polish present in this title is some of the best you'll find in video games today.
If you missed steams special weekend deal $19.99, I suggest purchasing it off of steam for $49.99.
There is no doubt in my mind, the best zombie game ever made, this is a must buy, so what are you waiting for?