Left 4 Dead Demo Hands-On

We blast through two chapters in the new demo and exact zombie revenge as the infected.

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A new PC demo of Left 4 Dead stormed on to Valve's Steam service last week for those that preordered the game. For the rest of you, you'll have to wait until November 11 to play the anticipated zombie apocalypse simulator. Thankfully, we played through the demo and have these thoughts to tide you over.

The demo showcases the first two chapters of the No Mercy episode. The first chapter, Apartments, has you fighting in a rundown building through waves of zombies, as well as bosses, such as the witch, boomer, and tank. In the second chapter, Subway, you work your way through the red line tunnels [insert blood red joke here], man a mounted turret, blast a blitzing horde of infected, and then, finally, enter the third safe house. What immediately stands out about the demo is that you never play the same round twice. Other than the contents of the safe rooms, everything is randomnly generated, including the locations of regular infected, boss infected, and weapons and health pickups.

Smokers use their evil tongues to entrap you, sort of like a bad prom date.

Because replay value in Left 4 Dead is a large focus for Valve, this is great. It also adds to the tension and scare factor--the cries of an infected witch armed with giant claws are enough to unnerve even the stoutest shooter fan. On some rounds, you may have to do battle with the hulking tank; on other rounds, he's nowhere to be seen. When you do battle the tank, you will usually find a table of superpowered weapons to help you deal with this ultrapowerful beast. The scoped hunting rifle is excellent for long-distance kills; the automatic shotgun can deal massive amounts of damage at close range without stopping to reload; and the assault rifle is well rounded from a distance or at close combat. If you're hoping to take down the tank without these weapons, you're going to need a lot of help or a prayer.

Both chapters are available to play solo or online with friends. Your AI teammates perform admirably, sticking together as a group and using first aid kits or pain pills for healing. Unlike a few of the players online, they are also great at reviving and healing you should a hunter pounce on your face to incapacitate you. On the other hand, a successful co-op round feels immensely satisfying. The level of teamwork needed to simply stay together as a group is impressive. Surviving an entire chapter on the more challenging difficulty settings feels like a miracle.

All four difficulty settings are available to play. The infected are typically docile on easy mode, standing around in the burning wasteland and minding their own business. On expert, the infected will spot you and immediately sprint forward, seeking to munch on your brain. Boss infected are also more prevalent, and only vigilant teammates will be able to save you from a distant smoker that attaches his tongue to your neck then begins to pull it out.

When you've tired of playing these two chapters, you can turn the tables and play as an infected by entering a series of recently discovered cheats. Keep in mind that these are developer cheats and not representative of the game as a whole. But playing as a tank and throwing slabs of concrete at survivors is very satisfying. Very.

Survivors shouldn't have all the fun. Turn the tables and get infected.

In one final note, the demo was also the first Valve product to utilize the new Steam Cloud service. Cloud allows you to store your game settings, as well as save files online so you can easily hop from one PC to another without having to continually toggle the invert Y axis option, for example. Cloud is expected to work with all future Valve releases on Steam, and third-party developers will have access to the feature as well. Valve also expects Cloud to expand to include user-generated content.

Be sure to give the Left 4 Dead demo a try, if only for a very unique multiplayer experience. The full retail game is expected to be available on Steam and store shelves on November 18.

Discussion

236 comments
Poffe_88
Poffe_88

Avals - Didnt you give the game a 9.0 in your review? Are you sure you dont have Schizophrenia.

hjj65747
hjj65747

King Cobra plz do not tell me ur calling COD4 an awful gmae...or am i just misunderstanding what u wrote... yes both these games have Theres Aweomse Parts But on Topic,,,, the one thing that sets this game apart from the rest is the AI Director changing the games environment up so its u never have to same senarios twice... i have played this demo for only 4 days and i can tell itsgoing to be a big seller.. right now i only play on expert..and i try to make the players challenge themselves with me...such as limiting the factors in the game.. like Pistols only with no flashlights and no pipebombs becuase these type of things will force u to watch ur back and be more careful...not only that but it'll limit the amount of Friendly Fire Deaths considering ive been in a lot of rooms with ppl who seem to wanna shoot u more than the zomibes lol , accidently of course.. but this game really does deserve a 10/10 by Gamers and Critics.. and i cant wait to get it from my pre-order.. Overall Rating: 99/100 (only becuase the AI Louis is retarded lol being ripped apart by a hunter and hes just standing there looking at me.... and i die ._. other than that PERFECT IN EVERYWAY IMAGINABLE

ildemaro
ildemaro

hell, say what you guys want. Played the demo over a dozen times in "advance" difficulty setting and its always different, not only the zombie spawns, bosses but also the people you play with. Its challenging and therefore rewarding. Im getting this game no matter how the reviews turn out.

zerapup
zerapup

Avals we might get everything you want with moding =()

LimitedVert
LimitedVert

Avals stop trying to act like you're some respected critic, it's only making you come off annoying and idiotic. We all get it, you would rather try to find faults within something instead of just enjoying the game. The vast majority love this game and the demo servers have been flooded with people enjoying the game for countless hours. So go back to playing whatever game out there you actually enjoy and stop wasting your time typing away pointless thoughts on a game you don't like for stupid as hell reasons.

nightshadee
nightshadee

Best Fps about zombies i have ever played.Lots of fun too.Going to buy it no doubt

Avals
Avals

Well, there were pros and cons about this game, of course, but as far as I was concerning, were it cons side. I mean, yes, the player models, the infected hordes look realistic and the demage-taking effect on the infected are real cool, the voice-act is good and would automatically notify others when seeing somethings, the gameplay on expert level is coop-depending and is quite hard and rewarding. But I just mean the combat side.. 1.The unrealistic and ultra-accuracy of hip-fire weaponary 2. No iron sight, having a ridiculous cross-bar. 3. Graphic on infected and actors model are good but on environment is just fair. 4. Run like floating. See through walls. Pass directly through teammates' bodies. 5. The area you can explore and search into in each mission is rather small and limited. (For example, you always have to go the same stair, same building), related to the re-playablity. 6. Limited close-quarter combat like ducks or kicks( Uzi melee can take down 3 infected at a row? Amazing..) The 4th point can actually be skipped since it is somethings related to better coop. But doesn't anyone see that the area is pretty small of each map in each scenario? It take around 10 minute to finish on each map on advanced difficulty. Probably on expert difficulty to be 20 minutes but it's still quite limited. And why using cross-bar instead of iron-sight? Better coop? But you also need better realism before better gameplay.

LimitedVert
LimitedVert

@weewalio You certainly dont speak for the majority of people playing this game, I'll admit Expert is hard even with proper teamwork but its fun and rewarding. You mention that you can't even handle normal well I suggest you stick to playing anything offered on the Wii. I agree with you, you shouldn't buy this game, I'd appreciate not running into you in a server knowing I'm playing with someone that can't even handle the game on normal.

KingChainz31684
KingChainz31684

Avals id say you clearly haven't played the game. You certainly haven't played the game on expert. This is one coop game where team work on the harder difficultly levels is a complete must. You have no chance if you run off ahead of your group or fall behind. I mean yes it is a shooter and if shooting in a shooter is unrealistic then well......nuff said on that one. And I honestly prefer to float a bit rather than to bounce up and down as I run. if it ran like COD4 their is no way the game would be possible you would have to come to a complete halt in hopes of hitting anything. And as far as your accuracy comment goes another thing that clearly shows you haven't played on the harder difficulties because on Expert if you don't aim you lose real fast. I suppose its just my opinion you haven't played but i am normally good at those guesses you really just come off as fanboy of games like COD nothing more.As far as I am concerned the graphics are amazing on my computer and it plays a lot more realistic than games like Halo 3 and GOW2 both good multiplayer games in their own right.I would also like to note i love how the in game chars talk as if they are real and in a movie. saying stuff like "hear that its a hunter" or "time to go start some fires" as you find molotov cocktails and each of the 4 chars has its own personality. Also how it lets other players know when you find that kind of stuff with out having to use your mic to say it. Plus the way the health system works is awesome. the gray screen is a real nice effect. and the way when your all gimped up you can bleed out as your laying on the ground. or when a smoker is up on top of a building in the streets and gets you and you dangle their till someone breaks their tongue or kills the smoker or you hang to death. I also like how the tanks can just straight up punch holes into the enviroment smash columns in the parking garage and things like that. So many things this game does great that just makes me excited for tuesday. Easily the most replayable demo i have ever played and its only 2/5's of one level not to mention the user content valve will make available.

KingChainz31684
KingChainz31684

If you got wiped on normal your team needs to learn how to pull their guns out. I have only won one expert one time out of about 10 tries. Me and a couple of my buddies completely own on advance. Expert normally gets us in the subway level when you go through the spot where you have to go through the train car to advance right after that area we tend to team wipe.

Xyrhoshi
Xyrhoshi

I'm not really sure how you find this so difficult weewalio. The difficulty in my opinion is evenly spread out. Hell if you play in novice, you only get 1 damage per hit from a zombie, out of 100 hp, whereas expert takes out 15-20. Usually if you want to survive, you'll need to aim right and actually care about your teammates, since firepower isn't a real issue to these zombies. I'll admit there are times where you will get punished cruelly, but that doesn't mean you won't succeed the next time you try. All you need is aim, teamwork, and a bit of luck.

weewalio
weewalio

Played this demo maybe a dozen times over the last 2 days, and every single game, we got wiped. Badly. I mean it's no contest, the infected wipe us out at around the same spot. And this is on normal difficulty. The characters you play (as humans) are just way, way too fragile and easily incapacitated/killed. I like challenges, but the difficulty on this is just way over the top. No longer remotely interested in buying it.

Spazzer
Spazzer

Played the demo with my friends and we had a gory blast. Our first thought--will the game get repetitve? I know the environments will be changing, but constant trigger-pulling could get boring. The gun-play is very loose but I guess it may give the player the sense of being in a movie. We've decide to buy the game--the reason? The co-op and premise. Finally! A co-op game that's done well. And playing in a zombie movie--very cool. The team play is a must and we found ourselves laughing and gleefully calling out our wicked kills. Blasting a zombie off your ripped-up friend feels glorious! We're hoping that the other game scenarios call for more team play and partial strategy. If so, this zombie-killer will be very happy!!

Auth
Auth

oooooo unrealistic is a bad thing. No FPS is realistic. All games walk a tightrope of play balance. It you don't like it, vote with you wallet. This game is as realistic as a Zombie movie.

oggycheese
oggycheese

The source engine is still churning out great looking games, it's good to see! At first I thought, 'hmm, looks like a pretty average zombie game, I probably won't get it', but now I've played the demo and it's excellent, it's just so simple, but so fun! Can't wait to start kicking zombie bottom with my friends :) Valve ftw!

atlascott
atlascott

I have played the hell out of the demo. This game is genius along the lines of Portal. A new type of game. Valve may have just come up with the only truly co-op multiplayer game where stranger will actually communicate and cooperate to a level seldom seen before (large groups in WoW and CoH cooperate pretty elaborately, too).. Honestly, how can ANYONE say the gfx are bad or that it is not fun? Geez!

Avals
Avals

I said this game is unrealistic simply because you really DON'T need no skills at all in gunfight!! Hips fire CAN never be that accurate! ! IT'S TOO EASY rather than real hardcore.. Advanced and expert differences? Oh man listen, all you NEED to do in the game whatever advanced or expert, is press the damn firing bottom..you needn't aim, you needn't take cover, you needn't fight up close with maneuver or kicks, and you float rather than run and you NEVER feel exhasuting in "floating", too much ammunition( I REALLY doubt you could always find that much ammo on streets when there's "infection case", you won't need to worry about ammunition because you always have infinite ammo in Colt.45... I only suggest THAT, it should improve the realism in combat. THATS it.

cardjr
cardjr

Avals you really have no taste this game is EPIC the graphics are fine and the "unrealistic" gun fight is just because you suck play it on EXPERT before you say this game is bad. advanced and expert are very different.

Avals
Avals

Oh my man..I had had it on the HIGHEST setting and it definitly look stupid..any hardcore shooter today is better than this like crysis/call of duty4-5 /far cry 2. I played crysis on best setting what you suggest huh that I'd play this game on mimimum setting? You getta be kidding.. AND I played it on advanced level. Well..I mean..some cool combat close quarter move rather than JUST unrealistic gun fight would add this game a higher quality.

ecs33
ecs33

@Judakel "The league of stagnation? It is easy to be in another "league" when you barely wonder out of your comfort zone." I disagree. Every game Blizzard creates is always very fun and high quality. Although I do agree with you about the comfort zone, I think we have to understand that that is what the fans want. The fans want sequels of the games that Blizzard has already made, because Blizzard made those games so great in the first place. I don't think I have ever seen a bad game from Blizzard. They are all awesome, addictive, and have amazing replay value. I probably spent more time with Blizzard games than I have with any other company's games. That's not to say that Valve isn't good. Valve is a company that clearly values quality over quantity as well. When has Valve made a bad game as of late? I think Blizzard, Valve, and Rockstar have established themselves as the highest quality game developers.

atteiramknight
atteiramknight

The game will be amazing, but what I am really looking forward to is the mods. Zombie Panic w/ L4D engine anyone?

starmanuk50
starmanuk50

This game rocks. Best fun had in demo was on expert level where your team really has to work together and plan ahead which works because people realise that teamwork is the key to this masterpiece. Graphics look nice and sound is great. Some genuine funny moments to be had. This game works best in multiplayer but single player is still good. The bots are very good, i was playing a server and didnt realise that the players had all left over time and the bots took over and i didnt know until i realised they were being too cooperative so then i just shot them all haha. People who go off alone don`t last very long. Seeing your team mates halo through walls is actually a great idea once you see it in action and passing through your team like a ghost works though you would think it wouldnt. They have thought of every little detail to enhance gameplay mechanics and thats just the demo. Pre ordered and ready bash some very very fast 28 days later type zombie hordes and i do mean hordes lol ps to NemesisLivess comment i would say this game NEVER plays the same twice.

NemesisLives
NemesisLives

The game looks really fun, I'm just concerned about how much replayability it will have. I mean ya the first month or so might be fun, but after that is everything just gonna seem the same?

Saiko_Mania
Saiko_Mania

@ Avals Did you turn up your graphics? Did you even TRY playing it on a higher difficulty setting? Do that and THEN you can say it's a bad game. Also, do you WANT to have completely realistic guns which would therefore make you lose the game over and over?? I think not.

Avals
Avals

Tried it's demo..pretty bad in my option..control are extremly easy and too fast paced(you seem to be floating rather than running) and everything just seems TOO easy and stupid(You pass through your teammates bodies like ghosts, you see them through walls, guns too damn unrealistic)..damned bad graphic, it looks like a game of 2004..whats special of this old-school?Co-op? Amen! You don't even need no freakin skill at all!

Judakel
Judakel

The league of stagnation? It is easy to be in another "league" when you barely wonder out of your comfort zone.

achilles123
achilles123

Of course, you don't mention Blizzard, cause they're in another league...

Psycold
Psycold

Valve Crytek Bethesda Rockstar = Best Game Developers

Dumoguero
Dumoguero

great game concept that you can be the 4 survivors and the 4 bosses in the game. for more info check it on gamefaqs. They have a thread information about the game.

Mangoooooman
Mangoooooman

Great demo, great game. At last a game I am about to buy without even thinkin' it twice! Viva la Valve! :P

boater
boater

@Akira3Dx - Did you look up the solution online? Here it is: mat_queue_mode 0 Put that in the console or the config file of the demo folder. (ie C:\Program Files\Valve\Steam\SteamApps\common\left 4 dead demo\left4dead\cfg). If you put it in the console, you'll have to do it every game.

TheC0m1ssar
TheC0m1ssar

This game is going to be a total hit. Team based zombie survival, I'm surprised no one's thought of it before! But then again, I'm glad it's Valve that did. :)

mambo770
mambo770

The Demo was Ok But it Should Be a free roaming city like GTA!!

Akira3Dx
Akira3Dx

Game is a blast! Only bad thing I can say is that I've experienced the game breaking crash way too many times now. They only have one week to fix it. Hope it doesn't go live with this. For those that haven't experienced it. There's the game freezing/sound looping crash. And theres also a BSOD (blue screen of death) crash. Crash seems random, cant duplicate it. Only happens with this game too. Every other game i have runs perfectly. Anyone else experience this too?

FallenAngelXBL
FallenAngelXBL

hearing the cries of a witch and the roar of tank AT THE SAME TIME on expert is possibly the most horrifying thing you will ever see. Seriously me and my 3 mates were litterally screaming like " OMG OMG OMG! RUN AWAY!!!" it was a blast though

Chronikas
Chronikas

@ Boater: Just fyi the closing demo text boasts 10 different weapons...not that I don't agree with you anyway.

kisakata
kisakata

Ok. I have been playing this game every night since it came out! I have not had soooooo much fun playing a game like this in years. I really love it. I love standing in the train and watch the zombies try to enter and then just mow them down with my group. I like how you compained to your other players that you are dieing when you health is very low. Just FUN FUN stuff!

boater
boater

I'll give a nod to the fun factor in this game. I was really excited at first a couple of years ago because I thought it was going to be a free mod. When I heard that it was going to cost $45-50, my jaw dropped and the demo confirmed that it was the correct response. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with shooting a ton of zombies. And it's even more fun when you've got 3 friends to duke it out on expert with you. The fact of the matter is that (according to a friend) the demo includes everything that you'd encounter in the full game; that is that you will be able to use all weapons, items and face all of the boss monsters within the first 2 chapters. I am still ready to shoot more zombies, but I can see that regardless of how they play with the environment the tactics of the game don't change all that much. If the game had more depth, weapons, tactics and perhaps more zombies and chapter bosses then I would possibly consider paying $50 for it. As it stands, I cannot see myself getting great replay value out of a game that really depends on replay value since you are endlessly blasting zombies. I want to call upon Ragdoll Kungfu as an example of how a demo had swayed me in the wrong direction. The demo was plenty of fun, but the full version game wasn't much longer and the online play was pretty uninteresting. Reflecting on that, I'm definitely going to wait and see how other people like Left 4 Dead after at least a month after the full version is released to find out how bored (or not) they get. But my current position still holds: Not worth full retail value due to a lack of depth.

Dimitriov
Dimitriov

It might be possible to have more than 4 survivors with custom maps, if you go to http://left4dead411.com/ and look at the video for the 11/9/08 titled server performance, you'll notice theres 2 Bill survivors totaling to 5 survivors. I guess in the long run it wouldnt be to hard for people to make custom settings for extra players in a game, Valve might look into doing it themselves after a while as well.

protokyoto
protokyoto

To all the naysayers....the game is made by Valve which means it's gonna be an instant hit for sure. I'm grabbing this day one like I do with all of Valve's masterpieces.

bigmacksax
bigmacksax

Might as well include my thoughts on the demo. Total blast. There's nothing like playing on Expert while on your last life and a horde is charging at you steps away from the safe house. They said that ammo would be an issue, but so far I've not even exhausted half of my ammo stock. I think it would be more intense if you had to save your shots.

bigmacksax
bigmacksax

The difficulty setting affects damage done by enemies, and I think the frequency of bosses and hordes. But yes, the difficulty adapts, too. With less frequent ammo and health drops and more bosses the better you're doing, and vice versa.

yomonkey
yomonkey

the article mentions difficulty settings... i thought the difficulty was adaptive?

Anteares
Anteares

will be great for the lan party...just wish they had slots for 6 on each side.

unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

I don't want a game that you fight fast zombies and mutated hulks and weird demon things that combine adrenaline rushes with BOO! scares and dramatic build-up! left 4 dead will be a flop for sure!!

Commander_T
Commander_T

played with a friend whit 2 bots... played twice on normal and hard... really intense im def going to get this game with my friend(while he get a new video card too)

Mehfuz
Mehfuz

just played the demo, really good

hamnut
hamnut

The source engine doesn't like split screen. I figured that out when playing with my friend at like 15 - 20 fps on 360.