I know I said I’d get a Portal 2 co-op review out, but since I haven’t managed to get a capture card for my Xbox yet, how about a game about zombies instead? And survivors. Though mainly lots and lots of zombies.
L4D is a co-op action horror game with 4 game modes: single-player, co-op campaign, survival and versus. My focus is on the 4-person campaign mode, which is essentially the same as the single-player mode, except that for single-player the other characters are AI-controlled. The game uses the Source engine and is available on the Xbox 360, PC and Mac. As you can see, I’ve titled this Part 1 of 3, because I’m planning to play L4D 2 and 3 if it comes out (it has been promised by Valve, but you know… it’s Valve) and do a comparison. L4D came out in 2008, so it’s not new, but I’ve only just got round to playing it at last and my verdict? I wasn’t disappointed.
I must confess, I’m a huge zombie fan. Zombie games, books, fanfic, movies, anything to do with zombies I’ll devour (pun intended). However, that also means I’m generally pretty picky about what I consider to be quality. After all, there’s a lot of rubbish out there. The question then is, what makes a good zombie game/book/movie anyway? It’s certainly not complexity. I wasn’t particularly impressed by Dawn of the Dead, despite generally loving Romero’s Living Dead series and that covered some pretty heavy themes including the effects of excess consumerism on American society. On the opposite side of the spectrum, one my favourite zombie games of all time is actually a simple little Flash game called Rebuild 2, which you can and should check out here. That game was incredible and even though it’s only a simple turn-based strategy game, it somehow managed to hit all the right buttons for me. There was less focus on gore and action and more on characters, plot and the deeper societal issues that we all know lie beneath the surface of everyday life and that an apocalyptic setting is often used to bring out in full colour. That’s what really draws me into the zombie genre I think; the dark, gritty atmosphere and way that all your human flaws are reflected back at you in an unforgiving light, forcing you to examine what it means to truly be human. To an extent, L4D has all of these elements and more.