Teamwork. Remember being taught as a child to not stray too far from a group and to help your friends when they're in need? Welcome to Left 4 Dead. Sticking together is key for survival, producing fantastic team dynamics in the effort to stay alive. It's four versus hundreds upon hundreds of zombies, and the most fun I've had in a FPS in a long time.
Set in a city during a zombie apocalypse, four survivors must work as a team to make it through each area alive. Thankfully for them, the game is dynamic using the AI "Director" to tailor gameplay to how well the team is doing. Have only three players left and little health? Your next encounter will be significantly scaled down to help you be successful. Health packs and ammo also increase in number and spawn locations. Just be sure to not wander off on your own to find them! In terms of weapons, the player is given the option of a shotgun or assault rifle as well as pistols (single or dual). Pipebombs (with a fantastic zombie-loving twist) are also available as well as Molotov cocktail for zombie exploding goodness.
Aiding to the idea of working together, "boss" zombies also attack the team. These do extra damage and unique attacks, rendering one member completely helpless until he/she is helped by a teammate, hindering the desire to want to wander off on your own. If you or a teammate does happen to find themselves alone, it is easy to locate one another as each person appears as a green glowing silhouette through the floors, ceilings and walls. Zombies that happen to be tearing apart said distanced member will also appear on top of that poor member, ensuring that all teammates know that they must quickly get to him/her!
The atmosphere of the game is immersive and nerve-wracking. Zombie moans and cries can be heard down hallways and you are often not sure where they are coming from. Adding to the "realism" is the number of zombies standing around, inactive and unaware of you and your team until disturbed, or shot! Loud noises such as car alarms, breaking glass, and machinery will cause zombies to come tearing in your direction. Also, in levels there are events that involve flipping a switch of some sort that specifically warns you of the hordes about to be unleashed. In these cases, ammo and health packs can often be located nearby to prepare your team for some wicked zombie slaughter.
Each level begins and ends in a safe room. Your objective, therefore, is to make it from one to the other alive. If a teammate does happen to die, they can be rescued from a locked room at a later stage of the level. To prevent that death from happening, teammates can heal each other with spare health packs and dampen their own pain of being mauled by taking pain killers if there are no packs to be found.
In it's current state, Left 4 Dead is an incredibly fun FPS with a lot of strategy and good ol' fashioned zombie killing. In fact, the game picked up our Editor's Choice award at E3 2008 for Best PC Game of the summit. Set to ship this November, Left 4 Dead is something no shooter fan should overlook.