So, it’s not an MMO

The day before Christmas, I sat in my living room looking at the pile of wrapped goodies I’d gotten for my friends and family. Feeling particularly jolly (and no, there’s no jelly belly here) I decided to take the dive and buy a new game for myself. After all, as long as I’m slowly deflating my bank account, I may as well treat myself a little. Right?

So, off to steam I went and began my download. When it was done, I was surprised to find that there was no need to install it. Via Steam, once the download meter was done it was good to play. The game opens with a cinematic that could have come straight out of Night of the Living Dead; very cool and really worked well to get you in the mood for some zombie killing.

I’ve never been a Counter-Strike fan, so I figured I’d try single-player first. When I was at the start menu though, I found myself selecting “Play Online” to try the co-op. Go figure.

I was pleasantly surprised. I figured I’d get “pwned” right away due to my utter noobishness with the game. Right off the bat I was able to pick up a small machine gun and lots of ammo. I was also able to get a nice health pack to help me get through to the next safe room. When we (myself and three other players) began, I immediately spotted zombie wandering from the trees. From there on out, it was all out havoc. And yes, I did get beat up at several points. Thankfully, my team was right there with pain killers and medi-packs each time. As a matter of fact, I didn’t die until the final stage of the scenario, but then, so did everyone else.

Out of nowhere, masses of zombies come flying at you. The game had a nice “28 Days Later” vibe to it with zombie behavior. They were slow and docile when they didn’t see you – but if they did, they snapped into action. The different in zombie types are also nice. I found myself liking Boomers (the fat puking zombies) for two reasons; they explode nicely and I like the swarms of zombies their puke draws. Smokers are also cool and can really be devastating. Smokers throw out intestine-like tendrils that pull you away from your group and hold you defenseless while they eat you. It happened to me several times where I’d be pulled away where my group couldn’t see me only to find myself incapacitated.

Overall, it’s a very fun game and I’ve yet to try out versus mode. The AI provides a different experience every time but I do feel that it could wind up being repetitive. The variation in weaponry and zombie types is there but I feel that it may not be enough in the long run. Gun types are probably okay but having only six types of zombies (the infected, smoker, hunter, witch, tank, and boomer are the ones I’ve seen in several hours of play) with no noticeable variation in each type’s look (meaning, one infected usually looks just like the other, not taking into account gender) just seems a little dry. Versus mode has the potential to enliven this though, so I’m not counting it as a big limiting factor at this point.

I’d recommend this game to anyone who’s in the mood for some zombie killing without mundane ammo limitations. Left 4 Dead throws you right into the action and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride. Like CS:S, you can compete against players – but only if you want to, which really opens up the game to a whole extra group of gamers. The limitations in npcs and the almost complete lack of story are what mark this game down for me. With downloadable content patches though, this game could really be spectacular. If I was forced to score it, I’d give it a 7.5/10 with the potential to hit 9, and maybe, 10/10.