ferry;;sadhonker;;adams;;left 4 dead;;horror;;survival;;valve;;electronic Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams


By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on November 9, 2016

There are those games that you desperately wish they would make a sequel of. Sometimes, this wish actually comes true (here's looking at you, Shenmue III). Sometimes, however, it remains as elusive as girls seemed to be, back when I was 16. This could have something to do with me just being a bit awkward around people of the female persuasion back then, but we're deviating from the point here. Point is, there are games out there that you just know deserve a sequel, and you're sure that sequel would do well on all accounts. There's only one problem... no one seems to be interested in making the damn thing!

One such game is Valve's awesome 2008 cooperative survival horror shooter, Left 4 Dead. After Left 4 Dead 2 was released a year later, things went quiet on Valve's southern front. Especially since Left 4 Dead and its sequel were released only a year apart, most of us had hoped for a quickly expanding series of these more than awesome games. But alas, all for naught! Although rumors have circulated across the internet for years, no tangible evidence of the development, however early, of such a sequel exists. So it's safe to assume that Valve has either lost its interest in the series (which I personally think could only happen after a full frontal lobotomy), or is very secretly plotting to completely surprise us with another Left 4 Dead game, somewhere in the future. It seems like the only thing we can do now is wait...

While we wait, why not take a look at what the series has been all about so far? Hell, let's just do that! Pick up your weapon and come with me, as we make our way through the dangerous streets, fields, and buildings of the Left 4 Dead universe.

In Left 4 Dead, up to four players can team up and make their way through the infected levels. You see, while some believe that zombies are the key ingredient of any good horror game, Left 4 Dead chose a different, somewhat more believable approach. Instead of raising the dead for the zillionth time, Valve opted for a worldwide pandemic, let's call it a cross between the flu and rabies, infecting most of the earth's inhabitants. The virus seems to inhibit the higher brain functions mankind is famous for and turns everyone that it infects into frenzied, bloodthirsty homicidal maniacs. As luck would have it, there are those among us that are immune to the virus; these people are the aptly named 'survivors'. You take the role of one of these survivors and will have to move from safe room to safe room in order to survive and escape the infested area.

There are four survivors in the original Left 4 Dead: Francis (an outlaw biker), Bill (a Vietnam veteran), Zoey (a college student) and Louis (an IT specialist). Together, they must try to survive while making their way to the next safe house. To this end, players are given weapons at the start of every stage and can collect additional weapons, ammo and health packs along the way. While making their way through the infested streets, our fabulous foursome will have to fight off tons of infected people that are all set on killing them as soon as possible.

There are six types of infected that you'll have to deal with: the normal infected, who are nothing more than humans gone mad with bloodlust. Apart from these regular infected, there are also Smokers, Hunters, Tanks, Witches and Boomers. Smokers are infected that have mutated into a creature that has six tongues, which it uses to ensnare survivors and drag them toward itself, and is covered in boils. If a survivor gets caught, he or she must be freed by a teammate in order to escape the Smoker's clutches. Hunters are quick and agile infected that, like free-runners, make use of almost everything the environment has to offer to make their way towards the survivors, after which it attacks them by pouncing on its victim and starts tearing at their flesh. The tank is a mutated infected that looks just like its name. Tanks are hulky creatures that will throw rocks, cars or other items at the survivors and can inflict huge amounts of damage by running into survivors or beating them to a pulp with their massive arms. Witches are arguably the most dangerous infected in the game. These female infected are hiding in dark areas and can be heard sobbing when your group of survivors passes by. Now, you might think at first that there is a damsel in distress around and set out to save her. This might well be the last stupid thing you do, so think carefully before doing so. The witch is startled by a single player if her or she disturbs her by aiming a flashlight at her, making loud noises or firing his or her gun. A witch will only attack the player that startled them and start hitting that character with her claw-like hands. The witch has the strongest attack of any infected in the entire game, so think carefully before you startle them! This brings us to the last type of infected on our list: The Boomers. These creatures are bloated due to a side effect of the virus that infected them and spew a stream of bile that temporary blinds the player, as well as attracts the single most awesome feature of the game: The infected horde!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: the horde! Once in a while, an event (such as a Boomer spewing bile or exploding, covering a player in the same bile) will trigger the infected horde. If this happens, the streets will flood with crazed infected that attack the survivors all at once. Fighting a horde is quite difficult but also, at the same time, really exhilarating! There's something about tons of enemies running at you that gets the blood pumping. It's also moments like these that team work becomes a vital part of your survival strategy. If one of the players decides to run away and save his or her own skin, then that leaves the remaining survivors in a rather tough spot. So always try to stay together, for you'll never know when a horde might appear.

What made Left 4 Dead a really, really good game was the fact that it could be played cooperatively, as well as in single player mode. When your friends didn't have the time to play a game, you could just play it by yourself and let the computer take charge of the remaining three survivors. This actually worked pretty well; the AI controlled characters never did anything really stupid and worked as a team, even though they were computer-controlled. And although more players meant more fun, this was a good way to get to know the game, before setting out into the wonderful world of multiplayer gaming.

Visually, Left 4 Dead looked amazing. The environments were richly detailed, as were the characters, giving the game a more realistic feel and enhanced the total experience considerably. Apart from looking the part, the game also sounded the part. The soundtrack was ominous, with audio cues clueing the players in on the imminent arrival of a certain type of enemy. The voice-acting was sublime, giving each character his or her own identity. Although, once in-game, each character played exactly the same, it created four vastly different but relatable characters that managed to get you to really root for their survival.

Left 4 Dead is a game with a high replay value, mainly because of the dynamic spawn-point of the enemies. This means you'll never know when and where a certain enemy will appear, making every play-through different from the previous one. This, coupled with the non-linear level design, makes Left 4 Dead a game that can be played and enjoyed over and over again. To this day, I thoroughly enjoy popping the game into my PC or Xbox and playing a few rounds now and again. That's quite the achievement for a game that's eight years old by now. The main campaign consists of five campaigns, that are each made up out of five chapters. The only exception being the "Blood Harvest" campaign, which is made up out of only two, albeit longer, chapters. Each campaign's loading screen is made to look like a movie poster and looks absolutely gorgeous. Apart from the single player and cooperative campaign mode, Left 4 Dead also features two special modes: versus and survivor. The versus mode is akin to the cooperative campaign mode, but pits two teams of players against each other, alternating between the survivor and infected side of the story and swapping sides once per chapter. The survivor mode throws a never-ending stream of infected at the players, challenging them to survive as long as they possibly can.

Left 4 Dead's sequel, Left 4 Dead 2 featured broadly the same elements as its predecessor did, with the addition of a brand new cast of characters, two new enemy types and an array of melee weapons, making the experience even more grittier than ever before. The main objective was still to stay alive and reach the next safe room and the cooperative mode is still the leading factor in the game. Both Left 4 Dead games were centered around cooperation and having fun with friends. That might well be the reason that they were received so well by the gaming community. Except from looking exceptionally good and working like a charm, the games forced people to work together, instead of against one another on some generic battlefield and tea-bagging fallen enemies, which, much to my amazement, seemed to be the coolest thing to do back then. I myself have spent countless hours playing through the campaign, side by side with a friend of mine in his parents' basement and I can assure you that playing Left 4 Dead this way is one of the best ways to while away a rainy (or sunny, for that matter) Sunday afternoon! So, if you don't already own these games, I would advise you to get your hands on a copy of both of them, team up with your friends and start fighting for your very lives. Which leaves the question of whether or not a sequel will be made. I'm sure that, besides myself, there are a lot of people who are really hoping and waiting for Left 4 Dead 3. So please, people at Valve, quit farting about and make the damn thing already!

available on:

Valve Corporation
November 2008 (Left 4 Dead - PC / Xbox 360)
November 2009 (Left 4 Dead 2 - PC / XBox 360)
October 2010 (Left 4 Dead 1 & 2 - OS X)