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I am just getting started with "Left 4 Dead" for Windows, so these are just my first impressions rather than a proper review, but the latter may come later.
The installation and activation processes were a bit long and annoying (I was not thrilled about having to open a Steam account just to play a game on a physical medium purchased at a retail store), but the game itself seems pretty good so far. It is more shooter than survival horror, but playing as one of four survivors working together to reach a goal while alternately fighting, running, and sneaking about definitely gives the game a different feel from run-and-gun shooters such as Unreal Tournament.
In the opening cinematic, one of the characters asks "Run or shoot?" and one of the others answers "Both!" and so far, that is what the game feels like to me. You can't just stay in one place and fight every zombie you see in an orderly procession; there are waaaaaaaaaaay too many of them for that and some of those fuckers are fast. You'll be overwhelmed. You can't just run, though, because you'll be overtaken by some of the faster runners. Or jumped at. Or caught from a distance and pulled away from the group. To survive, you really do have to run and shoot—often at the same time.
I don't have a lot of time for gaming right now (I am busy with a term paper, for one thing), so I have only played two or three levels of the single-player game, but aside from the safe rooms at the end of each level, I have yet to feel comfortable or in control or safe. And even there in the safe rooms, you may see and hear zombies through the doors and you know that as soon as you open one, the shit is on again.
So far, Left 4 Dead is compelling enough that I may use it as a motivating reward for making progress on my term paper. Then after I finish writing that, I may have time to write a proper review.
Posted by Brian Sexton at 8:23:51pm on Sunday, November 30th, 2008 (PST)