Monday, August 25, 2014

Left 4 Dead

Year: 2008
Genre: First-Person Shooter, Survival Horror

  • Platform: PC
  • Hours logged: 6.5
  • Playthroughs: 1
  • Rating: 8/10

  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Hours logged: 5.0
  • Playthroughs: 1
  • Rating: 10/10

  • Platform: PC
  • Hours logged: 5.0
  • Playthroughs: 1
  • Rating: 10/10

Notes and Discussions:
  • Lee (8/1/2014): I love this game. It is one of my all-time favorites. When it first came out, I played many, many hours of it on my Xbox 360 (the vast majority of which is not represented in the “hours logged” line above). Single player is my favorite, but for a time, I even played this game with the scary, unwashed underbelly of the Intarweb on Xbox Live. In fact, I think this is the ONLY game that I played on Xbox Live. I was shocked when Shane told me that he had never played the L4D games, so when it showed up for super cheap on the Steam Summer Sale, I strongly urged him to buy it.

    It took a while for Shane and I to develop a rhythm for playing together. I was very used to playing the game on single player mode on the Xbox, where, when you jump out in front of the AI-controlled characters to dive into the fray, they don’t shoot you in the back of the head...or yell and swear at you. Sorry, Shane. We got it figured out though. I would still dive into the piles of zombies with pistols blazing, but this time, I would crouch so he could shoot zombies over my head with his assault rifle. We also got pretty good at communicating about our systematic approach to clearing out the nooks and crannies of each stage, while still keeping the group together. In L4D, sticking together is key. If you go off exploring on your own and a Smoker grabs you with its tongue or a Hunter pounces on you, you're dead.

    In the latter part of each chapter, the game allows you to choose an advanced weapon: auto-shotgun, assault rifle, or hunting rifle. For whatever reason, I am most attracted to either the hunting rifle/dual pistol combo or the auto-shotgun. I tend to stray away from the assault rifle, likely because it requires you to be somewhat accurate over a longer period of time as you dump several bullets into each zombie. My favorite “strafe + fire” approach to killing in first person shooters involves sweeping the crosshairs across what I intend to kill, then squeezing the trigger at the right moment. This technique lends itself well to the use of a shotgun. Because of this, being required to put my crosshairs on something and hold it there, all the while firing as fast as the gun will spray bullets, isn't something that I’m particularly good at. Using pistols is somewhat similar, but at least pistol ammo is unlimited! Back in high school and college, I dumped cubic man-months of my life into playing Counter-Strike and Half-Life Deathmatch, and during that time, I became pretty handy with a sniper rifle. I got pretty good at crouching, drawing a bead on someone, and then squeezing off a single, high-powered round into an unsuspecting skull. As strange as it is to say, I still find scoring a solid headshot to be one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming.

    I suspect that we will end up coming back to this game from time to time, and we may even log some time playing as the special zombies in multiplayer mode. But for now, I would like to move on to Left 4 Dead 2, since I have only played that game once all the way through. Zombie clowns!

  • Shane (8/25/2014):  Damn Lee, I didn't realize that you had posted this one already.

    It is almost true that I had never played this game, with the exception of one afternoon at your place after I drove over for... it had to have been a brewfest.  Winterfest maybe?  That would have been the trip where I met the three very cute social workers on the plane, talked with them on subway then met up at the beer tent.  Hmm... We were a sort of friends for a while after that.  A person should try to reconnect with old friends.  We can all use more friends these days.

    That aside, I loved this game.  The graphics haven't quite held up and there are other quirks that I hollered about while we were playing (A level with a fence as a map border that allowed zombies to run directly through but was impassable to players.)  One control quirk took me quite a bit to get a handle on, specifically alt fire not being a zoom type but instead allowing a push or melee strike.  All told though, VERY satisfying play experience.

    Lee was right with the descriptions of playing together.  It took some practice limiting our friendly fire.  And I did yell at Lee quite a bit.  I would position myself to look down an alley, take a bead on a zombie down the way and promptly put three bullets into the back of Lee's head as he ran in front of me.  His willingness to crouch as he passed my line of fire was one point that helped but it also taught me to communicate my intentions better.  We both got good at hollering "Clearing left.  Left clear.  Sweeping right hallway.  Smoker in second window." and that manner of thing.

    It struck me while reading this that Lee considers our play to be currently done on this game.  I have a few other sections (Campaigns?  Movies?) I would like to complete before I can say that it is officially time to move on from this game but I will also happily follow along to L4D2.  Squad based FPS play actually IS fun when you have people with whom you are used to playing.  Go figure.

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