flyingv500's Left 4 Dead (Xbox 360) review

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A near perfect shooter that pits you against zombie armageddon

Left 4 Dead may look like a simple first person shooter at first, but underneath it may have reinvented the way we play games. Much like Valve did with last year's highly acclaimed Portal, Left 4 Dead also is as much of a refinement to its genre as well as an innovation. It seamlessly integrates single player and multiplayer into one singular mode of play, giving you a co-op experience unlike anything else found this year.

Lets get to the basics, Left 4 Dead, as the number "4" in the title implies, consists of four survivors of a zombie infection that has plagued an unnamed city. You  control one of the survivors as you try and make it through alive in one of the four "movies" that are found on the disc. Each of these movies contains a different scenario with different locales that are reminiscent of zombie flicks. You have "Dead Air", a struggle to make it to a nearby airport, "No Mercy"  where you and your fellow survivors try to make to the roof of a hospital to escape, "Blood Harvest" has you keep off zombies in a lake house, and "Death Toll" in which you go through a graveyard fighting the undead. You can play with friends, the A.I, or anyone else who happens to be online, making it as much a single player experience as it is a multiplayer.

In "Dead Air" you must make it to the local airport to survive.
One thing that separates Left 4 Dead from the normal zombie scenario is that you are never told where your flesh eating brethren come from. Somehow though, this never seems to matter. All that matters is making it to the next safe room (areas where you get your necessary tools to survive such as guns, ammo, and health packs) and getting to the end of the level so that you can get rescued. The game is given life thanks to the excellent spoken dialogue as well as written dialogue that is found on the walls of safe rooms. It really reminds you of Portal and how it presented story, how much you want from the story is dependent on how much time you spend looking at the game's more subtle details.

On the way to these safe rooms you will be encountered with waves of zombies including some "special" infected that will make the journey even more difficult. You have the tank - a hulk-like figure that just tears you apart, the hunter - a zombie that lunges straight at you, the witch - a zombie that if startled can be more terrifying than her name, and the boomer - who basically barfs on you causing countless undead to swarm the survivors. These
Thanks to "The Director" the game always stays fresh.
special infected always keep the game interesting which brings me to another topic - The Director. The Director basically controls the game and how it plays out, if the survivors are doing to well it will throw even more zombies at you. The Director makes sure the game plays different every time, and is what gives the game so much replay value. Also if you still are not satisfied with the difficulty you can always ramp it up to the always intense expert difficulty.

Another way you are given more replay value to the game is through Left 4 Dead's versus mode. Four players play as the survivors and four players play as special infected with the zombie horde. You are basically playing with  one of the main four movie's maps as your team switches between the infected and survivors. The survivors are always fun to play as but the infected can be a hit or miss. The Director chooses what special infected you will be depending on how the survivors are doing, so you could either be the not so awesome boomer, or the more entertaining hunter or tank. There are only two maps which is definitely a down side, but overall versus is a fun mode when you have done everything in the main game.

Left 4 Dead is almost perfect in every way. My only real complaint against the game would be it's lack of content, although Valve has promised more "movies" and content are on the way but its sad that more is not on the disc. Even with just four movies, you will definitely be busy with different difficulties and The Director changing up the game. Overall though, I highly recommend Left 4 Dead for any shooter fan not only because it refining the genre but because it redefines it. Just with the content it has, It is simply an experience unlike anything else on shelves this year.

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