Remembering 2008: The Biggest Games That Turn 10 This Year
Created by GameSpot Staff on
Left 4 Dead (November 18, 2008)
While the zombie apocalypse is a bit of a passé setting, even back in 2008, Valve's Left 4 Dead went about it in ways that weren't immediately apparent at a first glance. Like many other Valve games, Left 4 Dead was in development for quite some time, and the early trailers showed off a more somber and serious take on the game. The game we got, however, was a little more of a lighthearted and self-aware romp through the zombie apocalypse. Despite the surprising sense of humor, Left 4 Dead still offered a lot of scares and tense moments. Releasing a demo about two weeks before the release, my friends and I would replay the same levels, and found different encounters and death traps in each run.
Focusing on the trials of four unique protagonists--a biker, a vietnam veteran, a college student, and a retail salesman--the group would travel through several zombie-infested cities that offered randomized encounters thanks to the game's AI director. While players came in expecting a fun co-op zombie-shooter, my friends and I ended up getting an intense online bonding experience. Playing through Left 4 Dead's stages, which switched up set-pieces depending on your performance, resulted in us watching everyone's back closely to ensure we were in good shape. Because if it wasn't the AI zombie horde that got us, it'd be the cunning special monsters controlled by enemy players, such as The Smoker, a hacking and wheezing undead, who'd tangle survivors with its tongue and drag them into a dark alley to be swarmed by other zombies.
By far, the most iconic level of the series is No Mercy. This first stage was the most pure and representative of what people can expect from the game. Starting out on the roof of an apartment building, you'd slowly work your way down through its many rooms to the streets below. Your only hope for survival is a helicopter located on the rooftop of a nearby hospital. Making it there alive would be an exercise in teamwork and patience, while also keeping a quick finger on the trigger. For me, Left 4 Dead wasn't really about the action in a zombie shooter.
Rather, it was a more affecting and tense experience to see if you could work well with others under pressure--something I still admire about the game to this day. -- Alessandro Fillari