Left 4 Dead Hands-On

Valve's zombie horror shooter was unleashed at EA's recent London showcase, and we showed no fear when faced with a hands-on with the PC version.

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Left 4 Dead is Valve's first release since last year's Orange Box, and like many games in that package, it looks like an interesting new take on the first-person shooter. Left 4 Dead is a survival horror game, and its gameplay hinges on your ability to use teamwork to help three buddies make it through each section of the game. The people at Valve turned up in London this week with a brand-new version of the game, and we sat down alongside them to hear their thoughts and play the latest edition of the game.

Grab your shotgun or be left for dead.

Our demo took place on the PC version of the game, although the Xbox 360 version will launch simultaneously with all of the same features intact. The level we saw started in the middle of a deserted wood, at which point we and our three fellow journalists selected a character and came to grips with the basics of the game. The mouse-and-keyboard controls will be familiar to anyone who has played a first-person shooter, and as we looked around and oriented ourselves with the environment, we began to see some of the weapons and items we could put to use. We found both a shotgun and an Uzi, but the game limits you to one main weapon in addition to your standard pistol and a health pack. Although the shotgun is great at taking out zombies that are in your immediate surroundings, it's less effective at picking them off at range, but the Uzi definitely lacks the satisfaction of the shotgun's close-up headshot.

The combat is fast and frantic, with enemies that are a lot more 28 Days Later than Night of the Living Dead. They're fast and erratic in their movements, and if they spot you, they'll immediately run in your direction with the sole intention of tearing you limb-from-limb. If they get too close, they'll attack you with their bare hands, and if they manage to take you to the ground, you'll temporarily become incapacitated. If you're on the ground, other zombies will kick you and even curb-stomp you, so it's not a position you want to be in for long. Luckily, you're still able to fire your handgun even when you're immobilised, and you'll have a short period of time for your friends to come and revive you with a medipack. Perhaps more than any other game, Left 4 Dead demands that you work together as a team, and it's extremely punishing for anyone who chooses to go it alone.

It's worth noting that Valve calls the enemies "the infected" rather than "zombies," although it's not above using all the familiar zombie cliches that will be immediately recognisable to genre fans. There will be plenty of in-jokes for the horror fans to pick up on, with nods to classic movies littered throughout the game. Aside from the standard zombies, we also caught glimpses of some of the more heavy-duty undead that you'll have to dispatch, from the boomers that explode in a shower of blood and guts (which will cover your face if you get too close), to the huge mutant zombies that can absorb entire clips of bullets before they go down.

As we progressed through the wood in our demo, we came across a bridge that led to an industrial development of factories. The environments look fairly basic and have a characteristically Source-engine appearance, but the artistic design of the middle-America location and the characters that inhabit it are particularly noteworthy. The characters talk among themselves, warning each other when they need medical assistance or are reloading their weapons. There's also some nice banter between the team as they deal with the horror that surrounds them, such as the old man character telling an injured woman that his medical treatment would hurt but that she'd be ok afterward.

You'll need to act as a team if you want to survive.

The level structure in Left 4 Dead provides heightened periods of action that are interspersed with strategically positioned rest points. As we made it deeper into the factory, we entered a secure room with huge steel doors, and once we'd locked down the doors, the game autosaved and loaded the next part of the level. The room also let us pick up ammunition, weapons, and medical supplies, and we could administer health assistance to the rest of the team. Valve promises that no two plays of the same level will be the same, though, and you'll encounter enemies in different places every time you play through.

Left 4 Dead's emphasis on team play is what drives the game and makes it unique, and it certainly succeeds in re-creating that feeling of being a last survivor in a desperate situation. It's almost impossible to make it through the game without sticking close to your team, and the result is an experience in which you really feel like the last human survivors in a town infested with zombies. Left 4 Dead is coming to the PC and Xbox 360 in November, and we hope to bring you more on the game in the run-up to release.

Discussion

271 comments
flUx_
flUx_

not calling zombies "zombies" is an unwritten rule of zombie media making. duh.

DeimosGT
DeimosGT

EliteCouncilor, Xox 360 controllers work in the pc, just download the driver from the internet(google search for it). A pc controller cheaper than xbox 360 controller is the XFX controller. I'm not sure whether these controllers will be compitable with this game or not, but mouse and keyboard are the best for playing shooting games. Trust me. :)

Myxisbird
Myxisbird

EliteCouncilor, 2 things. 1.Newbies in a new game do not get kicked for "sucking". Everyone starts off as a newbie and there's plenty of patience for new guys trying to learn. 2.Use your mouse and keyboard, in FPSs they are sooo much better then a XBOX controller that it doesn't really matter how good you are with it, a decent mouse player will destroy you without too much effort. Just look at Halo...the second it came out on PC us PC players owned the XBOX players, and it was quite funny to see the so called elite of the XBOX go home crying to mommy for a mouse :)

Myxisbird
Myxisbird

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Iraqi_Gangster
Iraqi_Gangster

Does this support local co-op? I mean playing on the same xbox 360 console.

masteryoung
masteryoung

Other web sites have mentioned that this is going to eventually be on ps3 as well, i wander if this is true?

EliteCouncilor
EliteCouncilor

I have a question, and please go easy on me because i played shooters on consoles for my life but i am moving to pc. So is it possible to use the xbox 360 controller (wired usb cord) to play on the pc so i can still have my old school feeling to this game? (plus if I try to use the mouse + Keyboard I will probably suck then be ejected from the team (server) and won't be able to play. Please tell me any other pc controller i can use and buy that is compatible with this game. If no controller is compatible just say no controller. But if the 360 wired/other pc controllers work please tell me (but please note, tell me a pc controller that is cheaper if there's an alternative from the 360 wired.) Thank you

DeimosGT
DeimosGT

One "Word", Valve "ROCKS"! They are the only ones who've been taking the 1st person genre to the next level. Its the 7th generation of video games only through graphics (for most game developers), but Valve proved yet again that they are only ones taking the game play to the 7th generation.

leezer4000
leezer4000

should be class but i hold mhy breath till release but hopin it lives up to the hype :)

bakerforlife
bakerforlife

I cant wait for this game it looks awsome

ated505
ated505

yeah theres this free mod-game called zombie master you can download if you have hl2 deathmatch and sdk base. its pretty much like this (but not as good). i play it to pass the time until it comes out and hone my zombie blastin skills.

orangbunian
orangbunian

looks promising. Wondering if there are any other older horror games that lets me play cooperatively such as this?

DarkElf2112
DarkElf2112

The more I see of this game the more exicited I get. Knowing Valve, they won't release it until it's perfect. Can't wait!

marvingamebeast
marvingamebeast

This is going to be so fun I can't believe how close the game is to the movies. I have been hoping that a game like this would come out. I just hope that no one fools around it stays serious.

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

redcoat99, for a horror surviving game, the main soundtrack should obviously include any song by the famed, short-lived hardcore long island band "Those Left For Dead". Hardcore, machine guns, horror, survival, it all goes great together. and btw, i agree with you Koal_Jaiden. 4 player functionality - but no motherf***ing four player games!

Burning_Cactus
Burning_Cactus

I can't wait for this game, but knowing EA theyre gonna ruin it just like they did with every other game they were part of, and im also sure theyre gonna make one for the ps3 about 2 months after release.

Un4givingAsault
Un4givingAsault

another potential classic, only avliable, on 360. have fun with metal gear ps3

RedCoat99
RedCoat99

the main soundtrack for this should be the Chimaira song "left for dead" its the obvious choise, i hope they realise this : /

GameGodDerek
GameGodDerek

Can't wait for this game, it's about time someone steps up and makes a good multiplayer, FPS, zombie game.

chinesefoodninj
chinesefoodninj

It'd be nice if PC and 360 users could play together somehow...this has probably already been mentioned, but I don't want to scroll back through 25 pages to find out.

gazzad
gazzad

This game sounds fantastic!! Can't wait to pop some zombie heads online!

Darkestrah
Darkestrah

another kick ass game ... bloody hell now Xbox 360 really owns PS3. even though i had ps1 and ps2. thanks god didnt buy ps3 or i'd be left for dead.

SystemoDown
SystemoDown

Wow what a fanboy saying xbox cant hang. Nerd -cough- -cough- The game sounds sick

keisuke1
keisuke1

heheh xbox 360 can't handle all the processes to support 4 player multiplayer, the PS3 should wake up just like the pc.

Gwarpup
Gwarpup

Man I feel sorry for PS3.. 2008 still wont be their year. I own a PS3 and a great PC which im covered with the best combo. But its just sad to see PS3 so completely outdone year after year after they were so heavily dominated with ps1 and 2. Their touch with the people has really gone to hell and soon even the asians wont be able to deny it. PS3 really must be an awkward SOB to work with. Maybe in 2009 devs will have an easier grasp for it. Oh and I think this game will suprisingly be one of the most talked about games of 2008 very soon after release. Multiplayer with live player boss zombies as well as the multitudes of npc zombies, is going to be the most frenzied exhilerating atmosphere of any game in years. I hope as an infected Ill get to "play dead" and maybe a type that can run up walls and ceilings..yummy! I will be playing infected alot Im sure

Davideko
Davideko

Man Valve hurry up! Can't wait......... November release! :) Still long wait ):

Koal_Jadian
Koal_Jadian

Wow, I just read an interview where they said it would be cool to have splitscreen, maybe 2 player but not 4 player.... WTF?!!?!?!? Why the heck does my x-box have 4 controller if NONE of these f-ing games support it! Look at conflict. The First four conflict games for the first x-box supported 4-player splitscreen...the new one for 360...nope Halo 3...only 2 ppl can play co-op on one system. How about GRAW or Rainbox 6...nope only 2player per console...wierd how GR2 and GR2:SS BOTH had 4-player splitscreen co-op on the first x-box im not buying this crap unless me, my 3 friends and my FOUR controllers can play together on my x-box. I'm so sick of this crap, its like we're going backwards in time in terms of functionality

Davideko
Davideko

MAP EDITOR I NEED PLZ!!!!!!!!! VALVE.... ;)

JB2B
JB2B

I agree with Loyde_Reed. There should be split-screen for the consoles. Nothing is more fun than being in the same room as your buddie's and shooting up zombie scum. No split screen was one of the reasons I didn't get the latest Unreal. What also would be cool, but maby to much to ask, is a map editor so people can expand their gameplay by downloading a map on the pc and then putting it on a USB stick to transfer it to their 360. Source already has a nice map editor, so maby...

Loyde_Reed
Loyde_Reed

i really want to pay and it better have split-screen, cuz a FPS game isn't truly complete without split screen

jekaboom
jekaboom

yesss this will be THE game of choice for a good weekend of co-op LAN FUN :)

funnysplay
funnysplay

I strongly agree with killer under me here.

Futil1ty
Futil1ty

I agree with Killer: VALVE, PLEASE FRICKIN' MAKE A SPLIT-SCREEN SOURCE GAME! This one would be the best choice for it.

Killer2401
Killer2401

Offline multi-play plz. Anyways I'm going to try and get this game for both systems, one for mods and the other for (hopfully) split screen multiplayer.

KLONE360
KLONE360

Plz valve if this succeeds port it to ps3 just do it yourself this time dont let EA

nicklech16
nicklech16

In the video from the EA-event this game looks REALLY hectic ... hope it will work out well in the end...

zhivago_x
zhivago_x

This is a positive surprise. They are actually showing us a PC preview of FPS instead of a console version? Somebody is either getting fired or M$ is really getting low on money.

Avals
Avals

It look solid and a run-gun shooter.

Ice_man_1985
Ice_man_1985

i hope there would be an offline multiplayer.

Henninger
Henninger

Fast infected people in 1st person view, this is gonna be a good game. Valve has a good track record for 1st person shooters so hopefully they won't mess this 1 up cuz it looks great.

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

Well, I got just enough money in my PayPal account to pick up this game off Steam...

mrklorox
mrklorox

I don't know why, but I expect this game to be disappointingly short. Maybe it's because it is difficult to get four friends together to play a game all the way through without the game being no more than three hours in length.

KooerThnYu
KooerThnYu

looks awsome hope I can get some friends interested enough so that if it is a good game, we can have some one of a kind coop moments

jcwordlife
jcwordlife

This game should be bundled in Valve's next Box

shrink45
shrink45

Please don't delay again!