The zombie apocalypse is here and that’s the entire story you need to know in this cooperative first-person shooter and all the story you’re ever told. You play as 1 of 4 survivors (Zoey the college student, Bill the war veteran, Francis the biker, Louis the IT guy). The character doesn’t seem to matter, it’s just a different voice and skin. They will talk to alert you of things like health, weapons, reloading and where you should go next. Left 4 Dead is geared toward online multiplayer, but you can play solo through the game where your computer partners are competent enough, but need to be guided by you. Instead of online multiplayer where the other players seem to just run right through each level.
The controls are simple, point and click to shoot like any first person shooter, right mouse button is for melee for when foes swarm around you and they will. You have a long range weapon (shotguns, oozies, assault rifles and so on), a pistol (or 2) with limitless ammo, a medipack to restore your health or someone else’s, pain pills that will temporarily give you a health boost and finally an explosive thrown weapon like a flaming cocktail or pipe bomb. You can jump or crouch for better weapon accuracy and that’s it. The combat feels very limited because of this.
The big drawing point to the game is some sort of smart engine called the director that will generate random zombies to come at you, so no play through is the same twice. Such as a zombie that was at point A of your first play through might be a wall of zombies or no zombies, or a female zombie in your next play through. These zombies will race toward you after a few moments of shuffling their feet that might result in your terror, but an entire game of zombies running to you gets old very quickly. Zombies can climb up areas, go under truck trailers and the animations are good in general. Weapons and ammo scattered outside of safe rooms will not be in the same place twice.
The game is broken into campaigns and levels that you can access any one at any time. The campaigns are brief and really take you out of the action when you need to load a new campaign after completing one. The levels have good atmosphere, dark, spooky, but it gets old very quickly. Most every level feels the same with generic buildings, generic exteriors, generic trucks.
Between the levels are safe rooms. Leave a safe room and make it to the next safe room to cap off the level. Then at the end of the level, you see your score and how you did against the other players. Who killed the most zombies, who took the most damage. Stuff like that.
To be honest it’s not that good. It feels very one dimensional. Within the first few levels, you’ve seen all the game has to offer. You will quickly see all of its small variety of enemies zombies run straight at you, witches that stay huddled until you put a light on them, stalkers pounce on you until you are saved, smokers use a tongue to strangle you until you are saved and explode smoke, exploders that vomit on you and tanks that can throw you and take a giant amount of punishment. You will really need to rely on others for survival. The computer players will be very willing to help you, but the players in multiplayer may not be as willing or can’t when you’ve been left behind or gone ahead.
That’s it. The game isn’t very long and for a game that touts its random enemy generator, it doesn’t make me want to replay the game again and again. Combat is simple, enemy variety is lacking, but the game plays very smooth. Essentially left for dead is about mowing down tons of zombies and if that’s your thing, this is the game for you. If you need puzzles in your FPS or weapon depth, it’s not for you.