Left 4 Dead Reader Review
What, three shots and they're dead? Now hold on just a moment. I've seen George Romero's zombie films as well as recent stuff like 28 Days/Weeks Later. I swear that it takes a hell of a lot more to kill the undead. I want to scream, lash out and spray my entire clip into the horde, cackling all the way as I'm dragged down beneath a seething mass of corpses intent on feasting on my delicious innards.
No, instead I can easily find myself counting the shots under my breath, probably even letting my eyes twitch with each one. Nothing must be wasted, I feel. Why? Because that would be utterly pointless. I've got limited ammo anyway and once you hit that number of zombies where exceeds your clip size, then there's cause for much pain. And panic. Except not really. See, I have a pistol. Therefore, I switch to that pistol and then splatter some more heads. Out of pistol ammo? Well then I have an empty rifle - with a pointed muzzle. It's easy to hit them with it until they stop twitching. I've now officially undeaded the undead.
Looking at my partners, I wonder why one of them is patching the other guy up whilst he's making homoerotic noises. It's a bandage. It stops you from bleeding. It's not supposed to cause you pleasure. In between face palming myself and wondering how this game ever managed to get lathered with praise, I wearily looked around the next corner. It's dark, obviously. And yet you can see silhouettes of more shuffling cadavers. Wait, how does that work? It's like they're darker than pitch black, which shouldn't be possible. Is there a racist joke in there somehow? Perhaps if I ask my Afro-American teammate, Louis, to go forward and commune with those swaying shapes, something might come of it. Perhaps the zombies will call off this pointless manslaughter. As in, they'll back off so we can stop slaughtering them.
Ah, no. There he comes running back with his buddies. Oh, wait... they're not his buddies, I remember, and then begin applying point-and-click click-and-point tactics. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. (Once I caught a fish alive). Okay, time to move on now.
So now we're at a red door: a safety room. Once everyone enters, the screen fades away and loads the next area. If you're clever you'll remember to grab every med kit in sight and then load up on ammo before the aforementioned fading begins. Y'know, so you can help out your teammates when they need it. Actually, I was on 80 health, which can't be good. Time to heal. Ahhh. Wait-a-minute, old man Bill had only 50. Should'ave healed him first. Sorry, buddy.
This time, armed with a shotgun, I opened the door and ventured forth. It's a darker area than before and empty. A bit further and it's still empty. Okay, now that's unsettling. We've been tripping over zombies left and right and now, they're avoiding us? Just to be safe, I snap my view behind my team, just curious to see if we're not being followed or anything. Nope, nothing.
Suddenly a prompt pops up asking if I would like the difficulty to be raised. Sure, why not? I've got buckshot to spare. With the difficulty upped, we keep creeping forward. Slowly, a childlike sobbing fills the air, echoing off the concrete walls. Like a siren it dips and rises, rending at our hearts. Perhaps this was a side to the game that I hadn't heard of; perhaps it was time to rescue someone. Intrigued, I ran forward into the darkness. Soon I could make out a small shape on the ground, huddled with fear, shaking. Turning on my flashlight, I try to see how I can help the little girl...
... and my face is lanced with bloody claws, vision filled with rotting skin and eardrums bursting with shrill screams.
[Chupakun has startled the Witch] the game reveals.
As I'm wrathfully pounced on by this potentially scorned woman (perhaps zombie culture has its own unique internal politics - definitely worth future study), I realise that for the first time that my bullets aren't killing. I know I've fired more than three into that thing.
This is worrying.
In the distance, I can hear my team-mates shouting all around me, shooting at the Witch, trying to pry her off and can only watch in horror as my vitality begins to plummet. However, with great effort the team manages to kill the hellish thing. Macho biker Francis is now healing me as I sheepishly look on, feeling a little guilty. I could have just as easily healed myself and saved his med kit had I not used mine before. My nervous laughter is suddenly drowned by gunfire. Before the team have had a chance to chat about the Witch, we're besieged on all sides by a horde. And this time, I feel a pinprick of nervousness, of vulnerability. I almost died last time and it could happen again. Suddenly, there's a weight to each bullet.
With the smoke cleared and all the zombies killed I can finally share in that magic moment with your team. We truly worked together to stay alive so far. All of a sudden, I felt fonder of Louis' quips, of Bill's grumbling and even of Francis' negative attitude. He's actually a sweetie underneath all those tattoos.
With greater flourish, we moved forward again as a team. More zombies downed and everyone's chatting with each other, relishing each set piece and comparing accomplishments. And as we near the end, the very earth starts rumbling. Ominous bass plays through the speakers as a giant mass of muscle roars into the screen and with one massive punch, sends me flying.
As I soar through the air, I think of only one thing: damn, this is awesome!