Left 4 Dead will leave you "Grabbin' Pills!"
Left 4 Dead is a shooter from Valve, which was originally being developed by Turtle Rock Studios. It places the player in post-apocalyptic zombie environment, the player and their three companions must navigate their way through the level to the safe house. While on the way to the safe house they must try to survive both the zombie drones and special infected such as The Boomer. The game comes with four campaigns each spanning with four levels, each campaign lasts around an hour to two hours, depending on what difficulty you play at. The campaigns are presented as movies, when you load up a campaign a poster of the entitled campaign will appear as it loads. The shortness of each campaign is both Left 4 Dead's strength and weakness. It's strength, is in the fact that in a small level, so well designed, there are plenty of places for zombies to spawn from and much on the player's brains. Its weakness is that whilst it's intense and fun, it doesn't last very long and so while you'll get short adrenaline bursts, it eventually becomes predictable where zombies will spawn from. It is made slightly less predictable by the random scripted events Valve has placed, this means random spawn points of zombies, random spawn points of health kits and weapons. After a couple of playthroughs though, you'll know where there are potential spawn points for all three of these things.
There isn't much story to Left 4 Dead either, but then again it doesn't really need one. The only thing I would've liked is some backstory to the characters, I can tell that Bill is obviously some kind of old war vet and Louis is an 'average joe' office worker... but what are their real backstories? The simplicity of the characters seems to help the game in a sense, it continues to remind you that you are not some overly steroided... (wait no scratch that, they're taking pills all over the place.) It reminds you that, you are not some super space marine from the future and you are just a normal human being with normal guns trying to find a way out of this crumbled society.
The game is fairly easy to access for both hardcore and casual gamers, though I'd advise beginners to stay to easy and normal difficulties, as advanced and expert can get pretty hectic at times. The weapons in Left 4 Dead are pretty bog-standard; you start off with a pump shotgun or an SMG, plus a pistol. Later on through the levels, you'll end up finding an assault rifle, auto-shotgun and a hunting rifle. You will also have access to pipe bombs and molotovs, pipe bombs are used to attract the zombies away from you and your companions, while at the same time attracting them to the explosive which usually results in zombie spaghetti. Molotovs can be useful... but when you've got someone who can't tell their arse from their elbow throwing them about they can be the life or death of you. Valve knows this, and to help they've added a voting system which allows you to: Change the map, difficulty, restart the round or campaign and kick friendly firing assholes. There is also a Versus mode, in which 8 players are put into a game and split into The Survivors and The Infected. The objective of the mode for The Survivors is reach the safe room as quickly and as painlessly as possible, whilst The Infected try to stop them from reaching the safe room altogether. It's a fun mode, but unless you've got your teammates communicating with you you're going to have a bit of a hard time.
The sound effects and music help Left 4 Dead's immersion take full circle, the creepy piano music pieces really set the scene very well, and the sound effects are very well done (though I found a mod to which makes more realistic sounding guns). The infected sound just how they should, bloodthirsty zombies with no other thoughts than, "I want to eat your face," also in case you don't have a microphone to communicate with your buddies online or via LAN, you can use a series of emotes. Left 4 Dead graphically isn't the prettiest looking game on the market, but it's not the ugliest either, using the Source Engine... (once again) Left 4 Dead definitely has some kind of unique art styling. The Source Engine is starting to show her age unfortunately, but that doesn't mean that the game doesn't look nice as it presents itself very well. It also uses a slight film grain effect, I don't really notice too much in-game, and I think it more as a gimmick more than anything to make the movie presentation of each campaign seem more like a movie.
The only real complaint I have about the game, is the shortness of it, and this is due to lack of content. Valve seem to be working on fixing that, as they recently introduced a Survival Mode which gives you access to all of the previous campaign's "Zombie Chow Downs" as I like to call them. These Zombie Chow Downs, are the events in which a player interacts with a certain object and it creates a disturbance for the zombies. The player must then fight out with the zombies waiting for the Zombie Chow Down to finish. These is a nice addition to the game, as it allows for true teamwork to be used as you survive for as long as you can while a never-ending horde of zombies munch on your organs.
What Left 4 Dead lacks in narrative it makes up for with a fun and satisfying co-op experience that should be undertaken by fans of co-op first-person shooters, and especially by those who enjoy slaughtering hordes of the undead again, and again... and again.