Friday, April 15, 2016

Left 4 Dead

Well I am back with a game from 2008. A decent year for a few impressive titles. Metal Slug 3, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles, Devil May Cry 4, Silent Hill: Origins and Grand Theft Auto 4. Released in November 17, 2008 bring a co-op first-person shooter developed by Valve Corporation. Following a full on apocalyptic pandemic, four survivors against a scourge of the infected dead. This is Left 4 Dead.

Eh, screw this.  Let's get a beer.

With an outbreak of "Green Flu" in Pennsylvania creating aggression, destruction of the body's cells and the depletion of higher brain function. Two weeks after the first case, four survivors seem to be immune to it being our protagonists. Bill Overbeck, a Vietnam vet, Zoey, a college student, Louis, an IT guy and Francis, a bike gang member...cause nothing says bad ass like the name Francis.

Each character makes his or her way into Fairfield only to find the infection has spread creating bizarre and horribly warped mutations roaming the streets. Hordes of the undead are out and about quite out of their minds. Making one's way to the Mercy Hospital's helipad you narrowly escape on the passing copter only to find your pilot is also infected.

Hmm, this might be a bad idea but...

Surviving the crash you find a slightly battered light armored truck to maneuver through the town of Riverside until the road is clearly blocked, forcing the team to hoof it on foot. With travel problems tended to via small fishing boat they make their way to Newburg to only see the city gone mad and on fire.

Let's talk game play over all. Now I played this on the computer so no idea how it handles on Xbox, Now you assume one of the four survivors and can manage additional players but it can also be played by AI. This game works mostly on teamwork and has more realistic physics but each teammates are visible through the walls and buildings allowing players to stick together and coordinate their movement and attacks. A survivor falls off a ledge, the others can pull them up. A survivor's health meter is empty they can be revived by another.

Firearm muzzle flashes are a bit blinding, melee attacks will bounce enemies back easily. Pistols, SMGs, shotguns, auto assault rifle and hunting rifles are easy enough to find but ammo is scarce with the exception of unlimited ammo for a semi-auto pistol at starting level. Melee attacks are better when the infected are no more than 3 at a time. The sound of gunfire attracts the infected and they do move quickly but zero tactics. High pitched noise attracts them fairly well so adding a beeping noise to a pipe bomb or car bomb ensures a decent body count.

There are five types of infected. The Boomer is a gas filled that can throw up some sort of bile to blind the survivors, attracting infected and explodes loudly spreading the bile in the nearby area. The plucking of a bass guitar hints a Boomer is around. The Hunter can leap and tear at his victim until he is either knocked off, killing his prey or is outright killed. They will emit a screech or roar when you are close by. A high pitched piano cue is your only signal followed by the low pitch snarls when you are in proximity. The Smoker is covered in boils and has six tongues to snag and drag a survivor to him. These things will attack head on, allow a scourge or horde to attack in waves or just leave your survivor suspended over a cliff or rooftop.

The Tank is a huge, built infected that can swipe wide and knock survivors off their feet. They can chuck rocks, knock over cars and other debris into the survivors. Cue by a loud orchestral score. The Witch is always a female infect with claws and starts crying to lure you in. You can avoid her usually but she is easily disturbed by light, loud noises and gunfire. An eerie choir tune plays when she is near.

Instead of the standard fixed spawn points for enemies the game has more roaming creatures as a direct attack and difficulty, the AI is referred as "The Director". It will place creatures and items in various places based on player's situations, status, skill set and locations. It also creating mood and tension with music cues, lighting and character confabing. With four game modes: Campaign, Versus, Survival and single-player. Campaign has up to four human controlled players attempting to make their way around crazed Pennsylvania attempting to get to safe houses and eventually to safety. Versus gives each team of 1 to 4 players to play either as survivor or infected and is point based giving points and bonus points based on health and health items in inventory. Survival consists of timed challenges against swarms of the infected must try to survive as long as possible. Single player is almost identical to Campaign but it can be played offline with the AI bots.

Fast paced, eerie lighting and sounds along with music cues offering a macabre vision of a world gone mad. I was stunned with how scary and fun this game is.