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Left 4 Dead (Xbox 360) artwork

Left 4 Dead (Xbox 360) review

"For me, purchasing a video game on an already limited budget comes down to its lasting appeal. Otherwise I can just rent it at blockbuster and return it a few weeks later with no late fees. Left for dead is somewhere in between lasting appeal and too short and slapped together. "

For me, purchasing a video game on an already limited budget comes down to its lasting appeal. Otherwise I can just rent it at blockbuster and return it a few weeks later with no late fees. Left for dead is somewhere in between lasting appeal and too short and slapped together.

First of all, the game is meant for online play. Playing single player, you'll just play with bot-teammates. The core of the game comes down to interactions between people. I'm probably about a medium to low conversationalist on most live games, but for some reason, Left 4 Dead really brings out my talkative side and I've noticed this with other gamers as well. 50% of the time I may just be laughing, but the fact is, not talking is likely to get you killed. I've added more gamertags to my friend list playing this game, than every other game I own combined.

Left 4 Dead composes of 4 short campaigns all centered around cliche yet entertaining zombie-movie plot lines. Playing through all of the campaigns once would only take about 3+ hours combined. There are very limited gun choices, you can only carry one gun (other than your pistol), and you'll probably end up always choosing to use the same weapon every time anyway. You can tell that the developers just kind of slapped this together and put it on shelves at a premium price to see if anyone would bite.

People certainly did bite. The game is highly addictive. Is it worth $60? Well if you base the price on it's entertainment value alone, then I guess I've bought games that were as much fun at a similar price. But in terms of the scope of the game, it's pretty small. I think about it like this... There are a lot of Xbox Live Arcade games that I simply love and play more than some $60 games... but I would never pay $60 for an xbox live arcade game. In many ways it seems that more development went into some xbox live arcade games than Left 4 Dead. That said, I can not stop playing Left 4 Dead. I just simply enjoy it.

I really hope the scope of this game grows with a future release. Even if that means simply adding many more hours of gameplay onto the disc. I would also like to see many more guns (maybe unlockable rewards like in COD).

My rating of 8 is based on my value of it as an entertaining game above many others I own, and not really a reflection of the game's quality in terms of all other features such as grapics, sound quality, length, etc.. Rating on such features alone would grant a lesser score.

ProfesserPants's avatar
Community review by ProfesserPants (January 21, 2009)

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Lewis posted January 22, 2009:

"ou can tell that the developers just kind of slapped this together and put it on shelves at a premium price to see if anyone would bite."

Not at all. It was in production for ages, being continually refined. If anyone takes care with their games, it's Valve.

For me, the AI director - which you don't mention at all - is at the crux of Left 4 Dead. It's a dynamically changing experience that alters significantly with each play. For me, it just doesn't get old. I can't wait until this January workload rush is over so I can get stuck back into it again.
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ProfesserPants posted January 24, 2009:

Well it seems like they should have put a lot more gameplay into it. I love the game. I don't know much about development, but it just seems like for $60, I should get more than just 4 levels over and over again.
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Lewis posted January 24, 2009:

"I should get more than just 4 levels over and over again."

You do. You get four levels that radically alter, in every sense other than the actual environment in which they take place, with every play. Left 4 Dead is pure gameplay. I'm not sure I quite understand why people always expect a ludicrous degree of first-play longevity in videogames. Didn't Portal prove to everyone two years ago that sometimes the shortest games are the best?

In the case of Left 4 Dead, this doesn't even really apply, because the combination of The Director and the enormous differences caused by how individual players interact with it means there's potentially a never-ending playing field of surprise - particularly when you ramp up the difficulty level.

I appreciate not everyone cares about the ins and outs of development, but it really is important to remember that Valve is a highly respected development studio, renowned for extremely careful and player-centric game design. This is a company that regularly scraps the entire game and builds it from the ground up if play-testers aren't impressed. It's why Half-Life was delayed by nearly two years. Left 4 Dead was "finished" nearly two years before its release. That's how much time they spend with their work in order to refine it.

You're very right about discussing a game based purely on what it did for you, though, rather than taking its individual components and scientifically weighing it all up. You might want to have a read through the thread about my Resident Evil review and take part in that discussion if this sort of meta-criticism interests you.

Anyway - nice one on posting your first article here. Hope to see many more!
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timrod posted January 24, 2009:

Actually, I completely agree with the OP. Left 4 Dead was rushed out, and had a ton of bugs (the Smoker being utterly useless, the Infected being able to push props in front of doors so the survivors couldn't progress, super melee, the Infected spawn exploits) that were either fixed too late (most of them) or never fixed (in the case of super melee). The same four campaigns got incredibly boring for me after I finished them for about the third time - the AI director is essentially a giant joke because the hordes/special infected will almost always spawn in the same places. I bought L4D on release day, and it's one of the few actual game purchases I've made that I utterly regret.
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Lewis posted January 25, 2009:

Then people are having an impressively different experience from me. How is the smoker 'utterly useless'? Didn't really notice any bugs except for slight clipping issues, which I care very little about. And you must be playing a very similar game with very similar people each time, then. In around 40-50 hours play, I don't think I've seen The Director do exactly the same thing twice, at all.

You simply can't say L4D was rushed out. It doesn't make any sense, and just isn't true. It was held back for ages and developed really carefully based on a strict regime of playtesting and tweaking.
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ProfesserPants posted January 25, 2009:

I do love left for dead. I've had it for about a month and I play it for about an hour every other night. I'd say about 50% of my enjoyment of the title is the online interaction and social aspect of the game. I see what you mean about there being changing elements in the gameplay and I did read about the bugs with the original ship of the game. I probably spoke too soon about it being "rushed" when what I really mean to say that I just want more maps. 4 maps just doesn't seem like a lot for the price of $60 when you can rent it for $5 and beat the game into the ground before the due date. Keeping in development a bit longer and shipping with a couple more maps would have been nice. Do you know if they plan on putting out any downloadable content (DLC) for this game? For $60 I would like to see 1 or 2 freebies, but if I know Microsoft, that won't happen with such a popular title. Thanks for your comments so far.
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Lewis posted January 25, 2009:

It's nothing to do with Microsoft. L4D is developed and published entirely by Valve. If Team Fortress 2's anything to go by, they'll be releasing some DLC content towards the middle of the year, and again towards the end of it.
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ProfesserPants posted January 27, 2009:

I read a lengthy article about how Microsoft is very strict about putting out free DLC, so I'm not basing that on random ideas I had. Either way though, the point remains the same, for $60, 4 maps that occasionally change where the [limited] weapon drop points are located is not very reasonable. Some free content would be nice weather it's from Valve or Microsoft.

I would recommend to gamers who have not bought this game, to hold out for the price to go down, or for some downloadable content. I'll never quite understand why some gamers defend developers and distributors to the point of happily over-paying [in this case for less content]. We don't all have budgets to afford all the games we'd like. But if we show developers that we're willing to keep paying full price for limited content, you'll have lots of time to read about all the other good games that you can't afford.

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