Left 4 Dead Updated Hands-On

Join us as we fight for survival though the first two missions of Left 4 Dead's co-op multiplayer.

For those unfamiliar with Left 4 Dead, the shooter pits you and three teammates in a frantic, postapocalyptic setting against waves of undead "infected" as you shoot your way to freedom (or, at the very least, survival). The story comprises five missions, each with five chapters, and we played through the first two, No Mercy Hospital and Blood Harvest, at EA's UK headquarters in Guildford.

Woo hoo witchy woman, she got the moon in her eye.

In the first scenario you'll need to fight your way through the streets, alleys, car parks, and sewers of an urban centre on your way to Mercy Hospital under nightfall. But fear not--you'll have three squadmates by your side throughout the game. The four characters are reflections of everyday folk, including a young girl called Zoe; Francis, a tattooed biker; Louis, an African-American office worker; and Bill, a grizzled Vietnam veteran. In addition to your compadres, you'll find a range of weapons to aid your quest, and you'll encounter machine guns, hunting and combat shotguns, pistols (which can be duel-wielded once you find a second one), scoped hunting rifles, Molotov cocktails, and pipe bombs.

You'll be able to carry only one primary and explosive weapon at a time, and with extra ammo only available at set intervals you'll need to ration what you've got. Naturally, the shotgun is perfect for close-quarters battles; the assault rifles, pistols, and explosives are good for medium to long range; and the hunting rifle is great for outdoor areas when you need to keep your distance. The infected are attracted to sounds, so at times you'll want to keep firefights to a minimum, and this is where the pipe bomb comes into its own. It emits a beeping sound once thrown, ensuring any nearby zombies will clamber around it for a look-see, with devastating results. You're also able to melee attack with a right-click of the mouse, which works well when you're surrounded or need to reload.

You can also carry one medipack, allowing you to heal yourself or your teammate. Because the gameplay relies heavily on team play, we found ourselves caring more for the weakest member of the group than for ourselves for the most part, as having four able-bodied members is more beneficial than one having full health. Left 4 Dead really seems to nail the team dynamics well, and despite playing with fellow journalists whom we didn't know all that well, we often felt a real sense of camaraderie. There really is nothing like a zombie infestation to bring people together.

Besides a wide range of the usual zombie "grunts," you'll encounter four types of superzombies. Boomers explode easily, but if they get close enough they'll vomit green muck on you which, in addition to seriously impairing your vision, will attract a swarm of the infected. Smokers emit a noxious vapour and have a superlong tongue which will reel you in if it catches you. (You can free yourself by shooting the tongue, but if you're unlucky, you'll need one of your squad to rescue you.) Tanks are slow-moving brutes which you'd be best to avoid and can only be taken down with a few clips. Finally, witches are fast-moving and have formidable claws, although they're not too hard to defeat...if you can catch them.

While scenarios may look the same on subsequent replays, the action will change thanks to the game's "director" system, which changes the number of infected you'll encounter--and how often--depending on your performance throughout the game. While five missions doesn't sound like a lot, you'll almost definitely have to repeat parts of the game while you and your teammates work out the best strategy to defeat the hordes intent on ending your humanity. We've talked about the hospital in earlier previews, and after several attempts we were able to complete the last chapter in it, Rooftop Finale. After fighting your way through the hospital's wards, surgeries, and yet-to-be-completed top floors you'll emerge on the rooftop, where you can radio for an extraction via the helipad. Unfortunately, you'll have to stave off a small army of infected before the helicopter arrives, which took us a few tries. They swarmed out from every direction, even climbing up the sides of the high-rise hospital, and we decided the most sensible course of action was to barricade ourselves inside a storage room, blazing our guns at the door--which we were told by EA was a suitable course of action.

After a successful extraction we found our squad camping out in the wilderness in the farm mission Blood Harvest. Through our cross-country journey, we stumbled upon a variety of locations including farmhouses, barnhouses, ("henhouses, outhouses and doghouses"), fields, tunnels, and bridges. Throughout the missions you'll encounter the sometimes eerie, sometimes amusing warning left by other survivors such as the time it takes to become infected written by one survivor as a few weeks, crossed out and rewritten as days by another, only to have a later survivor say, "I saw it happen in hours." While some of the scrawls are purely humorous--"'we deserved this'...'maybe you did, I didn't do anything,'" others are more useful and can help with you mission progression, such as "head north to Echo" or "follow the tracks." Taking the latter advice, for better or worse, led us to a tunnel with carriages and debris strewn across the track. Lighting, as you'd expect, is limited to moonlight, flashlights, and the occasional burning fire, and conditions didn't improve throughout the mission.

Live together, die alone.

You'll need to stay close to your teammates and communicate with your team if you want to make it out alive. Once we'd made it out of the tunnel and across a long bridge crossing a ravine, we arrived at Blood Harvest's last chapter, Farmhouse Finale. Set in an abandoned military base amid cornfields (we're not quite sure what use the military has with corn, but we'll go along with it), the rows of tall corn made for a tense, frantic battle against the infected and it was easy to lose our teammates. Thankfully if that happens, you'll be able to see a silhouetted outline of their body, showing you what direction they're in. The finale concluded with us reaching the outpost, calling for help, and unfortunately succumbing to the zombie horde.

Left 4 Dead is set for a November 21 release in Europe. For more on Valve and Turtle Rock's upcoming frightfest, read our previous coverage.

Written By

Former staff writer for GameSpot.co.uk, now marketing guy for a certain major online retailer....

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Discussion

189 comments
Slashriff
Slashriff

This game RULES its the BEST GAME EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!But if you get it BEWARE IT IS ADDICTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It has Survival,Single player,Co-op,Versus.I would recomend it to any gamer out there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DigitalExile
DigitalExile

I'll have to wait to play this myself before I make any judgments.

Gus227
Gus227

wtf does EA want with this?? the only thing they're going to do is taking credit for Valve's hard work. They did it with Command & Conquer, and now, they're doing it with L4D! goddamn leeches! (WITH THIS COMMENT, I DON'T MEAN TO INSULT ANYONE (only EA))

thefaunaofwar
thefaunaofwar

Eventually we will see this on the Ps3 sooner or later.

Specimen2501
Specimen2501

Actually, this survival horrar might be some fun. no more weird camera angles, just good ol face to face zombie massacure......hmmmmmm, I can smell the rotten corpses now.

Psycold
Psycold

its about time developers started making coop gameplay the focus of their games instead of either delivering a half-assed coop or not releasing it at all and leaving it up to the modders.

snoopyflyfish
snoopyflyfish

This is defenetly my kind of game but lets se how this zombie game sticks out i hope it is like the good old Resident Evil but with some good modifications ofcourse!!

jp-gnr
jp-gnr

Another zombie game since resident evil.... lets see how will be shaping until release.

treesapx
treesapx

They're calling this an EA game now?

disobedience
disobedience

its coming out on Nov 20, 2008, lets hope it would be as expected :)

kalleas
kalleas

WHEN DO IT RELIASE YEEEEEEY KOOL GAME!!!!

-Intel-
-Intel-

woohooo!!!when is it coming out?!??!

-Intel-
-Intel-

woohooo!!!when is it coming out?!??!

Lycen
Lycen

Sounds sweet!

Ninja_RaVeN
Ninja_RaVeN

A demo would be nice right about now...

PdPstyle
PdPstyle

I really hope you get to play through the initial infection...like watch it play out. That would be freaking sweet! otherwise this game deff looks like a buy if it supports split screen *fingers crossed*

cdo1536
cdo1536

"this game blows big time. I heard that u cant make it if you fall behind or something." Its a TEAM game, thats the point!

alex_zander
alex_zander

this game blows big time. I heard that u cant make it if you fall behind or something.

4esth
4esth

I think the co-op aspect will help set this apart. Other than that it really looks like it could be an add-on to Half-Life 2

baystatethrashr
baystatethrashr

looks sooooooooooo good. too bad my laptop probably can't run it at high settings. this will be fun xbox live though

DarkAngeles
DarkAngeles

Looking good, going to buy it for the PC and test if it can handle it. Otherwise, I'm getting it for the Xbox 360.

efrench9
efrench9

If this game plays like I think /hope it will, COD4 may get shelved for a while.

titanviper2000
titanviper2000

i personally am not a great big fan of fps, but this game looks like it's really doing something different with the genre. i'm excited, which is hard to do for me with fps. I can't wait to see it in action.

JMAN320
JMAN320

looks good. I wish it came out on ps3.

Stealthos
Stealthos

@Ascendedfox: How is this game "a full rip off from resident evil: outbreak?" This is a FPS, focusing on action not puzzle solving. They are completely different. Yes they both have what look like zombies, but the fact that these run at you make these a completely different enemy to deal with. Also you can play as the infected!! I enjoyed RE outbreak but I recon this is gonna be more like TF2. Its gonna be ace.

MidniteShadow
MidniteShadow

Wow sweet, good to see Valve is taking the oh so popular Zombie mods in CS and making it into a full fledge game, thank you Valve :)

AscendedFox
AscendedFox

This is a full rip off from Resident Evil: Outbreak. Not that I have anything against this game, I don't. But I just feel that it is. Anyone who has played the game can totally agree.

flUx_
flUx_

Without co-op, based upon what I've seen from gameplay videos, this game would be trash. But thinking about shooting hordes of zombies with my buddies...makes this game look awesome.

azrael2514
azrael2514

Hey everybody, come look! I just pooped out a better looking game than this and it was made by my intestinal "Valve" and everything that comes out of there is a winner. I know where I'm going to be on Nov. 21... getting a colonoscopy to see if I have any other "winners" up there. When is Gamespot going to put up a new headline story or review so I don't have to look at this game every time I log on.

IXIWhistIXI
IXIWhistIXI

Can valve release game that isn't a hit?

adamas78
adamas78

Bioshockownz said it straight up 'you can't go wrong with valve' ...mmm, since when have they released a crap game I wonder? multiplayer design and game design guru's they are. Can't wait for this game!

Skuttle
Skuttle

The source engine can look really good. It's really noticeable if you've downloaded the 2gb Cinematic mod for hl2. Good graphics and a low requirement Hellz ya

fnd461
fnd461

I bet controlling the characters will feel like moving a floating balloon. HL2 had the worst FPS controls...or rather, character movement. It's too smooth, like you're just floating along. They better do something about that.

d_love
d_love

Give consumers playable demo

gameboy360
gameboy360

Left 4 dead deserves at least an award for most original design (alongside LBP).

drumbreak1
drumbreak1

Valve is most definetly one of my favorite game companies of all time

dark_being
dark_being

A must have for all zombie haters :)

BioShockOwnz
BioShockOwnz

This game is sounding more and more like a masterpiece. Can't go wrong with Valve.

Fahrenheit8
Fahrenheit8

Vertigopm: Nope, you can play offline with bots helping you out if you want.