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Quick Review: Left 4 Dead (XBox 360)


After my original XBox kicked the bucket, I went out and got its younger brother, the 360.  I have to say I am really impressed with it.  Seeing as I use it primarily as a DVD player, it works well.  If you add the online Netflix feature, then its the best media device I have purchased in a LONG time.  A brilliant combination.  Oh yeah, and the copy of Gear of War (#1) is pretty cool.

So being the zombie fan I am, I went out and got Left 4 Dead.  After reading the reviews and such, I thought to myself, how could I go wrong?   Everyone is raving about:

  • the graphics
  • the replay value
  • the online experience
  • the simple but scary game play which is blindingly fast
  • the atmosphere
  • the AI

What the hell are these people thinking?!?!?!  This game sucks!  Let me address the following points above now:

  • the graphics – they are just OK.  Nothing to rave about.  The fire particle effects look like they came from a Playstation One.  How the graphics handle coupled with how fast everything moves is pretty impressive.  Some nice blur effects and such.  But looking at the characters, weapons and enemies, its just swiss cheese.  I have seen better graphics on the Wii or XBox One.  I am all for a game developer focusing on fun game play rather than impressive graphics, but this lacks both for the most part.
  • the replay value – Considering the very strict linear play of each level, I would say there is a very small replay value.  Given that the 360 has the power to render HUGE maps of beautiful quality (e.g. Assassin’s Creed) why was so little thought put into these maps?  This  was one of the main reasons I bought this game was that everyone raved about the replay value.  The only thing that changes is the enemy spawn points and even that quickly becomes predictable.
  • the online experience – this is actually one of the redeeming qualities of the game, but not like it sets itself above any other game.  One good thing I saw was that if a game host leaves, someone else becomes the host so that the xbox live party can continue on without interruption.
  • the simple but scary game play which is blindingly fast – very simple and not very scary.  The endless batteries on your weapons’ flashlights provide little realism to what is supposed to be a scary situation.  Also the fact that scattered between your starting point and goal, there are just random weapons lying about.  Endless flash lights + endless ammo = a not very realistic situation = not a very scary situation.  Even when you encounter a horde of enemies, you can get hit a bazillion times and still survive.
  • the atmosphere – again not scary.  Its too well lit in most areas with an ambient fog that provides enough cues as to where enemies are coming from.  Part of the scary thing in a zombie movie to me is the sound and they put little thought into that as well.
  • the AI – this is just so so.  Your AI teammates are good about the friendly fire and they save your ass plenty of times but there is still something lacking.  Of course when you are talking zombies, you can’t really talk about AI aside from a swarm mentality which this game exhibits.

So that’s it.  If you just can’t wait to throw down $60 on the next big zombie hit, then by all means go get Left 4 Dead.  I played this smartly tho.  I went to Game Stop and got a used version of the game, so I can return it within 7 days of purchase.  Maybe I will swap it for Fallout 3 or that new Star Wars game.


6 thoughts on “Quick Review: Left 4 Dead (XBox 360)

  1. I think all your points are 100% correct if you view this game as a standard shooter. However, I think of it like an arcade game.

    I like that I can hop into any level and have any weapon available to me. Because they split levels up into chunks, I can play for 15 minutes and still feel like I *did* something.

    When I have people over, because of the linear level design and infinite ammo, we can play casually. We can talk and goof off and kill each other and it’s not a big deal. It’s fun.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents!

  2. you make a point. I do like the aspect of just jumping in as well. That generally caters to my short attention span. I have a few days to let it grow on me. If by the 6th day, I haven’t warmed up to it yet, no hard feelings, I will just get a refund. Have you any experience with FallOut 3 or that Star Wars Jedi game they have on demo at Walmart?

  3. The XBox version doesn’t sound as fun as the PC one. To me, playing at night with a bunch of n00bz is really fun. The maps are darker, the flashlights not really helpful once you start shooting… play it on expert; WAY more real. 2 friendly fire shots kill your teamates, and hordes usually mean death if you don’t have your friends with you.

  4. Just out of interest … do you happen to like Gears of War, jwopitz?

    The reason for my question is this: I have this theory that there are two kinds of shooter players … those who like Gears of War and the likes (console-oriented ones), and those who like Left 4 Dead and the likes (more traditional shooters), and they seem to be mutually distinct.

    Anyway, the game really shines in Versus mode, I find. Or if played coop, then in higher difficulties – where a single zombie hit takes off 20% of your health, and thus it’s definitely not possible to remain unharmed amidst masses. And what the game definitely is not made for is playing offline – it’s all about the teamwork. And yes, if you play a difficulty below your skill level, it won’t be scary nor require teamwork, and thus end up being boring.

    • I do. I really enjoy the tactical aspect of GoW in how you can duck for cover, tell your mates to flank the enemy and such. But even GoW is a bit disappointing in some respects and I get bored easily with games in general now. That is partly why I tried L4D out because it appeared to be something you can just pick up and play. I see your line of thinking with that question and I agree with you. I have been trying it on shared campaign mode and find it a tad bit more appealing, but still not worth $54. I still have a day or two to let it grow on me…. but I really don’t see myself keeping it. As for offline play, you are totally right, this was truly targeted at online play with friends.

      To be fair though, I am a very difficult consumer to please. You asked about GoW and I said yeah, I like it. But if you were to ask me if I liked Army of 2, I would say I hated it. Ao2 was amateurish and clunky. But then again, I am talking mainly about the offline play.

  5. As a follow up, I went back and got Fallout 3. What a superb game. While the AI and shooter aspect is mediocre, the story line and the ability to just explore is immense. Plus I can play an hour, quit and then jump right back in and still make overall progress. The VATS combat system is pretty cool for a next-gen RPG as you can target your enemies’ weak points. So a heavily armored unit might not take so much damage in the head or chest but you can take out their knees. Really good game. But one complaint. WTF is up with the lousy 3rd person perspective on it. It was like an afterthought.

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