I’d like to kick off my Birthmus Month of zombie games with what I consider the best zombie game ever made: Left 4 Dead.
Now, I know that this admission might come with a boatload of controversy. I’ve met plenty of people in my life that don’t like L4D. Unfortunately, I think those people suck. Sorry.
This doesn’t roll over to Left 4 Dead 2, unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong. L4D2 is still a great game, but it’s predecessor overshadows it from being able to relate to the characters to the game play itself. Something about the second game just didn’t hold up to the first.
Either way, here’s a big kudos to Valve and their ability to make a game that people are playing years later. Here’s a few reasons why this zombie game is still popular to this day.
1) There is the perfect amount of storyline.
Let’s be realistic. We play zombie games to run and gun. We don’t need a lot of emotions. We don’t need an extreme amount of cut scenes and drama. We want nasty, dirty, machete to the face craziness that makes you grin and turns your stomach at the same time. Most of all, we want hordes and hordes of zombies. Left 4 Dead gives you those zombies.
Even without the cut-scenes and back story, you still develop a certain connection with your favorite character. Personally, I liked Zoey, but I absolutely loved the dialogue between Zoey and Bill. Through the brief dialogue, you learn what you need to know to keep yourself interested in the game, but it doesn’t interrupt your game play.
The different maps are related in a certain way that makes sense, but doesn’t really matter in the end. Like…I’m not going to sit there and play Mercy first because it won’t make sense if I don’t. No, I’m going to play the map that I like the best over and over until I get sick and die.
2) There is just the right amount of difficulty.
Sometimes, the problem with run and gun games is that you don’t do anything else but run and then gun. In L4D, the majority of the time there is no skill involved. But then there are those times when you have to use your reflexes to push back a boomer that fell from the roof of a house before he barfs all over you.
The amount of control reacting to the special infected takes a bit of experience before you get it down. It’s not something you pick up as soon as you start playing the game. Left 4 Dead might be simple, but you have to learn what makes it tick.
Even simple things like knowing how far you can push the witch before she goes crazy gives the game another dynamic. I’m pretty sure we all fucked up with the witch the first time we encountered her. Perhaps even up until the 4th or 5th time. But I can pretty much bet on the fact that everyone knows what to do with her by the 10th play through and that’s the beauty of it.
There is also a noticeable difference between the difficulties, but it isn’t complete extremes. Yes, easy is a cake walk, but you still have to learn how the tank operates. Expert might be really hard, but use teamwork and you can beat it too. It’s not impossible, which is what I feel like expert level on most zombie games tend to be.
3) Left 4 Dead doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t.
I hate pretentious games that try to cover more than one genre at a time. You’re an action adventure RPG time based strategy FPS? Yeah ok. Go kill yourself.
Left 4 Dead is a zombie game at its worst and a zombie game at it’s best. It has different challenges to increase the replayability, but doesn’t weigh you down with trivial things like a skill tree or abilities. It is as I want it to be and that’s why I love it so much.