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 Left 4 Dead

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Registration date : 2008-05-15

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PostSubject: Left 4 Dead   Sat May 24, 2008 3:11 am

~Publisher: EA
~Developer: Turtle Rock
~Release Date: Early 2008
~Genre: Action
~Number of Players: 8
~ESRB Rating: R/P

I initially wanted to fill you in on all the details of EA's double Ds -- Dead Space and Left 4 Dead -- but unfortunately Dead Space is embargoed until this Saturday, May 17th. (Insert internet sad face emote here). Instead, here's a power walkthrough of what it's like to play Left 4 Dead, a zombie-survival shooter coming to the Xbox 360 and PC this fall.
This is how Left 4 Dead should be played, strategically cooperative.

Load Up

Each level is broken up into chapters. Before the zombie onslaught begins, the game gives you and your three teammates enough time to stock up on supplies, a la Counter Strike. The weapons and equipment in Left 4 Dead are broken up into two tiers - weapons and "wild weapons."

The first-tier weapons include your choice between a fully automatic Uzi or a pump-action shotgun. You can only carry one. I found the Uzi to be more efficient if you're playing for the first time. The shotgun is very powerful, but it's more of a support weapon because of the slow fire rate. Then you have a choice between one Molotov cocktail or a pipe bomb. Pipe Bombs pack a strong punch, but the blast radius is more contained. Molotov cocktails are weaker and burn a larger radius for a certain period of time. Because of the fire, Molotov cocktails can be hazardous to the other survivors. And of course, each survivor gets one health pack.

Second-tier weapons are guns you will find out in the wild. For example, an abandoned military checkpoint will bear the fruit of M16 rifles and automatic shotguns.

Survive!

Once the grace period is over, zombies begin to spawn. The goal of each chapter is to reach the next safe house, which leads to an extraction point at the end of each level. The first chapter begins on the roof of an apartment complex, then twists through some back alleys, and eventually ends at a subway station. Although it's hard to see in the screenshots, Left 4 Dead features a large palette of environments that feel completely different from chapter to chapter.

The first thing I noticed is how hard the game is. It requires a lot of communication between the survivors. The best way to play Left 4 Dead is with a headset, but thankfully there are key-bound contextual voice commands, such as "Help!" and "Lights out." I found myself hitting the Help button a lot, because I kept getting choked out by the Smoker boss zombie. The Smoker lingers on rooftops and has a 50-foot tongue that renders you useless until a teammate either kills the Smoker or shoots his tongue. Think Half-Life 2 Barnacle.

After getting over the initial difficulty hump, I was having a total blast, literally. The normal infected-zombies are extremely easy to kill, and post-chapter stats reveal how many you killed, how much damage you took, and much more. The magic, however, is in the pacing of the game. Thanks to the A.I. Director that controls how many zombies are unleashed and when, there is never a dull moment.
Melee zombies to knock them away.

Where's the Xbox 360 Version?

Left 4 Dead on the Xbox 360 has been MIA since it was first announced. According to an inside source, however, the media will see and play the Xbox 360 version within the next couple months. Sounds like E3 will be the hot spot.

After playing the PC version for a good 30 minutes last night, I'm thoroughly impressed with Left 4 Dead. The atmosphere and graphics paint a gruesome high-contrast picture of a post-infectious world. And the zombies are really frightening. My only concern is that because Turtle Rock and Valve are first and foremost PC developers, the Xbox 360 controls will suffer. Even Half-Life 2 on the Xbox 360 still felt like a first-person shooter rooted on the PC. There are other minor bugs like random zombie pop-in and immobile zombies who get stuck in walls, but I'm sure all that will be addressed before the game releases this fall on the Xbox 360 and PC.



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