First Impressions – Left 4 dead

I bought Left 4 Dead last week, and after eagerly awaiting its arrival, I got to get my hands on it yesterday. I’ll describe my first impressions here, and once I play it a little more, I’ll write more.

I’ve never seen a menu screen quite like that one. The options were Campaign (referring to online campaign), Multiplayer, and Single Player. Normally single player and campaign are synonymous.  I played through the first two levels of the game in the “Single Player” mode, on Normal difficulty. In the first level I used the shotgun. The second level I started with an Uzi, but later picked up an M16 (I think).

I love zombie movies, so I have been excited about Left 4 Dead for awhile. Honestly, the reason I hadn’t bought it yet was because I didn’t know how often I’d get to play it since I’d basically have to be alone (it’s not appropriate for children or those easily scared) to play it. And I didn’t know if my nerves were ready for that trip.  However, after playing it yesterday, I was relieved that it was more fun than terrifying. A few things that stood out to me:

The Zombies:

  1. The Zombies go down quickly, so even though you may have a dozen coming toward you, you feel like you can manage it. Which is less scary even.
  2. The Zombies are fast. And they keep momentum, so when you shoot one that’s running in the chest, it effectively clothelines him (which looks cool).
  3. The AI is really neat. If you play through the same level twice (because you die), you don’t see the same zombies in the same place. My first play through, a room was filled with zombies, the second play through I was expecting a fight…but there was none. Instead the game experience was completely different.

The Game:

  1. Co-op is clever. The way they built the co-op play is awesome, even in single player, I had to depend on my teammates to save me when a hunter jumped on top of me.
  2. Game elements don’t get lost. You’d think with as much stuff  going on the game would get disorienting and confusing, but it doesn’t.
  3. Gameplay is smooth. The game flows excellently, I think it’s running 60 frames per second.
  4. The pistol has unlimited ammo, so you never run out of your sidearm’s ammo, which caused me to use it more, especially when I got a second one.
  5. The pacing doesn’t allow you to dawdle. So if you’re standing around, or trying to take it slow, you get waves of zombies. I think they’ve engineered the game well to push you through at the speed it was designed for.

ED: Earlier I posted that the game must run at 26 frames per second because it was so smooth; I later realized how dumb that was and corrected the error to be 60 frames per second.

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