A Neutral Sheep’s Experience with Left 4 Dead – K_Smoove
During the first week of August, I spent a few days with my cousins out in Colorado. I spent most of my time doing various outdoorsy things, as is the norm with the people up there, but I did spend one evening with my cousin playing Left 4 Dead on a console (which will remain anonymous so that I remain neutral- except with hermits).
We played through the level known as “Dead Air,” which would turn out to be my first experience with thumbstick-aiming in a first-person shooter. Needless to say, it felt archaic to me, but I’ll give more on that later. For this level, I played as Louis, because I was hoping he would be faster than everyone else (this has more to do with his build than his race). To my disappointment, all four characters played exactly the same (or at least that’s what my cousin tells me; I only tested Louis).
Something that surprised me was the length of the levels; the two of us spent almost two hours on Dead Air alone. The partner AI was also surprisingly helpful, healing us when we needed (I definitely needed it more than a few times) and generally surviving well enough up to the final act. On that note, the final act of Dead Air was very intense, and it took us several tries to beat (I was usually the last to die, surprisingly). This intensity was quite unlike anything I normally play, and I would say I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Perhaps the best part about Left 4 Dead is its presentation. It really felt like I was playing an interactive movie, with chilling music and unsettling sound effects. In fact, I would say that this game is almost too easy to translate into a feature-length film. It would probably be pretty decent, too. Anyway, in the grand tradition of zombie films, L4D’s cast was rather undeveloped, yet I still cared when they died, if only for the health packs that they took with them.
Now, onto the part that will make many readers angry: thumbstick aiming! The main reason I never really got into shooters was the control scheme. On consoles, I found the control stick annoying to aim while trying to move and use the face buttons. On PCs, I disliked moving around a 3D space with an awkward d-pad of sorts. The Wii technically fixed these problems for me, but I still never got into the genre, for personal taste or something. In no way am I criticizing L4D for using thumbstick aiming, seeing how there is no other option, but it did hamper my experience just a bit.
After about 20 minutes, I had adapted to the awkward aiming and I was ready to kill some zombies. And I did. And it was fun.
Final thoughts (in list form!)
Would I play this again? Absolutely. Dead Air was a blast, and I’m sure the other episodes are just as thrilling. Also, four-player co-op would probably enhance the experience even further.
Would I buy this for full price? Maybe; it depends on the longevity of the online multiplayer.
Rating out of ten? I’m not going to give one. This article is meant to express my impressions from one level of the game, not the game as a whole. How would I rate my experience with the game? Fun/10
If this is popular enough, I might continue doing it with other games. But I don’t get a ton of chances to play on other consoles.