Tom Baker: Mmm, brains. No other game using the Source Engine has quite captured my imagination like Left 4 Dead. My love of zombie films may have originally drawn me to the title, but the concept and in-game footage have kept me glued. It's essentially Resident Evil on steroids: You are one of four survivors who has to work in a team to fight off infected zombies. The ability to become one of the undead adds an entirely new spin, and the insistence of a coordinated multiplayer effort means that Left 4 Dead demands a lot from its gamers, but it's sure to deliver hours of fun in return.
Mark Buckingham: It's a four-player online cooperative battle for survival in a zombie-infested city. Sound familiar? It was the same plot used for Resident Evil: Outbreak, but where that game stumbled and dropped the ball, here's hoping Left 4 Dead learns from Capcom's mistakes and gets it right. The dearth of genuinely good cooperative games out there gives this game space to take a foothold, or even set a precendent if the developers put the right amount of care and polish into the project. Of course, finding decent people with whom to play it online is a whole other matter. Throw in the fact that players turn into zombies upon dying and the Source Engine is holding it all together, and you've got a shooter with a lot of potential.
Chris "Atom" DeAngelus: Zombie games aren't exactly new, but there has never really been a zombie game that captures the "feel" of a zombie movie. The closest you've come to the "group of survivors against the endless horde" mentality was the Resident Evil: Outbreak titles, but even those couldn't quite capture the feel, relying on awkward voice commands and the usual Resident Evil tricks instead. Yet Left 4 Dead looks to be the multiplayer zombie survival game for which everyone has been waiting. The concept is simple enough: Four survivors, working together to make their way past hordes of infected monsters, including four human-controlled zombie boss creatures. The focus will be on working together to outwit a far superior enemy. Even better, the game will feature randomized scenarios, ensuring that no two games will be the same, and your quests through zombie-infested towns will always be exciting. I think I can speak for most gamers when I say, "It's about time!"
Xav de Matos: Recently acquired by Valve, Turtle Rock Studios is no stranger to the multiplayer shooter space after developing Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, and they have much bigger plans for their upcoming release, Left 4 Dead. You, along with three other computer- or player-controlled partners, are tasked with getting from point A to point B with hordes of deadly zombies between you and your goal. If fighting for the human race doesn't do it for you, players can also take the reins as the a number of boss zombies in the ultimate battle for survival. The game promises intense action and is built on an engine that decides when you should be overrun and when the town should be eerily silent in anticipation. If you haven't come up with your zombie plan yet, Left 4 Dead might give you a few ideas this fall when it releases for X360 and PC.
Keith Durocher: Read Max Brooks' World War Z, and it will become painfully apparent why I'm looking forward to giving this game a try. That it will be a co-op experience is icing on the cake, as is the fact that you'll be able to play as one of the living dead! I really don't see how this won't be another medal to pin on the Source Engine.
Tim McCullough: Left 4 Dead brings two gaming favorites together into a single suspenseful gaming experience. Take one part zombie hunting and add one part team combat, and you have a formula for some great gaming fun. By design, the level of cooperative play required to survive in Left 4 Dead all but eliminates the single-player, run-and-gun characteristics of a majority of multiplayer shooters. Add a sophisticated self-adjusting zombie spawning system and lots of dark corners, and you have yourself one scary gaming experience.
Tim McDonald: Where would games be without zombies? No Dead Rising, no Resident Evil; hell, no Doom. Left 4 Dead shifts things from games toward the survival horror we know and love from the films: a small group of survivors, a whole lot of very hungry zombies, a hefty emphasis on co-op, and, odd as it may sound for a zombie game, artificial intelligence. The game watches to see how things are progressing and decides when it's time to drop in a "boss," when it's time for a lull in attacks, and when it's time to pour zombies through every passage. No two games will be the same. Throw in "boss" zombies varying from fat and toxic to one strongly resembling the xenomorphs from "Aliens" (almost all controllable by players), and a lot of Team Fortress 2's automatic contextual speech and actions, and this is going to be a must-have for zombie fans. It's without a doubt my most anticipated game of 2008, so roll on, summer. I know I'll be spending it in the dark.
Tony "OUberLord" Mitera: Nearly every first-person shooter that has a strong mod community will eventually see a zombie-themed mod, so it's no surprise that someone picked up on that. Left 4 Dead takes the premise of your standard zombie movie and couples it with advanced gameplay ideas. The zombies are fast, organized and smarter than the lumbering undead in the malls that we're used to. The game has many fresh ideas for how the zombies act, such as coding their AI to work together in attacking weakened players or to cut off players who have strayed from their friends. Doors can be shut and locked to slow down the zombies, but it won't completely stop them. At some point in 2008, expect to find yourself banding together to take down some zombies, and pray that your ammo doesn't run out before you make it to the helipad on the roof.
Tim "The Rabbit" Mithee: I could sum this whole thing up in one sentance: "I love zombies." In more words (and my editor is telling me I need some), there are few things I find more interesting and enthralling than a zombie movie. Left 4 Dead seems to be the latest in what's a surprisingly short line of games using the Escape The Zombies riff; while there are survival horror games everywhere, most of them follow more closely to the Resident Evil flow than the Counter-Strike one. However, this is Turtle Rock with Valve, so expect metric tons of squad-based multiplayer zombie-killing with a gorgeous interface, lots of weapons, and rewards for players who pull their weight in the fight against those who shouldn't be fighting. The option of having more players sign in as The Infected and fight The Living is a huge bonus. The only fear I have is the rumored "Vista Only" requirement that's been floating about, which would put a serious damper on the whole affair. From gameplay videos and trailers, this looks to be a visceral, guns-to-the-wall fight against the undead. It might even fill in the gap left by the underwhelming Hellgate: London in 2007.
Thomas Wilde: One of the interesting things about current-gen systems (they aren't really next-gen anymore, are they?) is that they're taking the opportunity to make a lot of games that have needed to be made for quite some time, and Left 4 Dead falls squarely into that category. You and three friends try to survive a zombie outbreak by any means necessary, while four other friends try to harsh your mellow. I would have preferred slower, shambling zombies to Left 4 Dead's screaming rushdown mob of undead, but it's hard to imagine that translating well to a co-op game.
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