As many of us know, the Left 4 Dead demo dropped on XBox Live as well as Steam yesterday, sending gamers into a frenzy much akin to the virtual undead hordes that awaited bullet-pummeling. After a bit of a download time, I managed to nab the demo myself over XBL for the 360, and I couldn’t wait to get into my first game.
The thing that was curious to me from the menus and even once the game started was how much it felt like a game that belonged on the PC rather than the 360. Something about the controls, the HUD, the interface, everything about it screamed PC at me. Even hooking up with a party didn’t feel completely intuitive, though after a bit the matter was settled. So how was the gameplay?
Immediately what jumped out at me was the sheer speed that this game takes place at. You start off on a rooftop, making your way through a house that is already filled with zombies, lying in wait for your brains and whatever else it is that zombies want. The game just jumps out at you and the craziness just keeps ramping up and up.
Over the course of the demo you navigate through city streets, cramped hallways, basements and eventually subway trains. All the while you dodge, melee, revive your teammates and blast your shotgun endlessly. The swollen number of zombies coming at you is absolutely staggering, especially on the harder levels. Before you know it, the buggers can have you surrounded, screaming for help and popping heads with whatever weapon you’ve got.
The team aspect of Left 4 Dead is overall the most shining point of the gameplay. This is a game that punishes you for splitting up, and requires every member to work together. When you couple that co-op feel with the Director AI, you’ve got a really entertaining ride on your hands. I played through the demo 3 times last night, and each time was radically different. Sometimes, help would come soon in the form of ammo and weapons, and sometimes, the undead kept growing and growing, swarming over us like tidal waves of rotting flesh. Gross, I know.
While the game was incredibly enjoyable, and greatly so on the harder difficulties, I must say that I was disappointed with it over all. Perhaps that was my fault for expecting the game to blow me away. But sadly, it still didn’t, for whatever reason. The gameplay, as I said before, feels like it belongs on a PC. The 360 controller just didn’t feel right for the job. We’ll have to see how I feel after playing the PC version.
Another thing about the game, is that quite honestly, it seemed a little underwhelming to me after the joy of Horde Mode on Gears of War 2, which is much more intense and has much tighter gameplay. With all the zombies running at me, I just wanted a few more options besides holding the trigger down or meleeing with the left bumper. It seemed just a little flat, and made me wonder if the game would get old before a whole playthrough was completed.
All in all, the demo was great fun, though I am a little more hesitant about buying it after playing it. There are plenty of other great games out there vying for my 60 bucks, so I’m starting to wonder if this one will keep me playing for months on end. Then again, it’s Valve, and those dudes never do us wrong. I’ll probably end up going on their track record and buying it anyway.
What about you guys? What did you think of the Left 4 Dead Demo?