Left 4 Dead

I am a little late to the party.  Left 4 Dead released back on November 17th, 2008, and I remember, months before, vowing that I would buy it on that day.  Considering that that day marked one full month of being unemployed, I didn’t buy it.  Most people I know who own Xbox 360’s did, and I got to listen to a lot of talk about how cool the game was.

The Tuesday before Christmas, a friend of mine gifted me with Left 4 Dead.

Quite simply, this is probably the most fun game I own for the 360.  Playing alone is often tense and thrilling.  Playing with others is frantic and heart pounding.

I think one of the most innovative parts of this game is the scenario design.  Rather than try to build one whole coherent story encompassing the entire disc, each scenario, of which there are 4 included with the game, is a separate story of its own.  In the first scenario, your group of survivors start on a roof top and you can see the hospital in the distance… so your plan is to cross the city to the hospital, which has a helipad, and call for help.  The second scenario you start out on a road heading to one town you think might be safe, and since it sits on the water you might be able to find a boat and escape.  Scenario three, your band of intrepid zombie fighters are making for the airport, looking for a plane ride out of here.  And in scenario four, you are just trying to get the hell out, but wind up at a farm house with a radio that allows you to call in the Army to your location for a rescue.  Every level of every scenario has multiple paths to the end, and playing through is an organic experience.  While in many games repeating a level gets easier unless you force up the difficulty level, with random spawns and some randomization on supplies and the dynamic AI (The Director), even playing through the same level on the easiest level of difficulty is fun time and time again.

The reason I think this scenario design is so innovative is that is sets a precedent, it manages expectations, so that in the future Valve can release new scenarios, and it doesn’t need to be a continuation of the story, or just a pack of multi-player maps, but they can drop a new mini story of a handful of levels, creating another separate game experience, without changing any of the existing game but also not feeling it is outside of the existing game.

I look forward to the downloaded content for this game.

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