The Left 4 Dead demo kicked off today for pre-order customers and I’ve put in a lot of playtime already. I’m not going to write any long-winded review for you guys, but I will give you my quick impressions and let you know if the game is worth buying based on what I’ve seen thus far.
Graphics & Performance – Let’s get this one out of the way
Fantastic! The game runs at amazing FPS with zero slowdown. The graphics, which include a lot of lighting and cinema effects, are perfect for the game and leave nothing to be desired. The environmental details and the attention that went into creating the levels (or at least the one we get to play in the demo) is top notch.
Gameplay – Pure win
The basic gameplay in L4D is a rush of adrenaline and excitement. Every second of play feels fresh and exhilarating. The premise of the game is cooperative play and, for the first time in a first-person shooter, I feel like I have to work with the people I’m playing with in order to survive. Probably the biggest contributor to this feeling is the AI Director – a little piece of design that scales the difficulty and experience of the game depending on how well (or horrible) you’re doing. If you’ve been following the game at all then you don’t need me to go into much more detail. The important thing here is that the AI director functions exactly as promised and delivers a unique zombie survival experience every time. The levels may be laid out exactly the same each play through, but the minute-to-minute happenings are all different and the feel of the levels change as the AI director makes different parts of the map feel more dangerous than others. It’s very, very well done.
We’ve had a blast shooting zombies all day! The level is really well designed and begins with the survivors on the rooftop; as seen at the end of the introduction video. The goal of this level is to work your way through an apartment complex to the street level where you’ll find the first “safe room”. This acts as a check point or the end of the first part of the map. From there it leads you into a subway system… or death trap as it should be referred to… where you’ll eventually … Heck, I won’t spoil it for you. I’ll just say that it is very fun and I really, really, can’t wait for the full version.
Multiplayer Functionality – The game ain’t perfect!
This is one of the neatest and worst features of the game currently. L4D introduces a matchmaking feature to Steam for L4D and, in theory, the system seems great. It effortlessly lets you set up games with your friends and join, or create, a server together to play. However, in practice the system lacks polish and 9/10 leads to a laggy or disconnect game. If Valve can get this part of the game under control then the game will easily be on its way to a perfect score across the charts.
The modding community is going to have a field day with this game. I can already see the massive potential for maps and modes that will lead to months, if not years, of enjoyment.
Left 4 Dead is fun, scary, and well worth the money.