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UglyDuck avatar 5:57 PM on 11.13.2008  (server time)
Shortblog: Left 4 Dead

I'm not doing an overly elaborate write up this time, just a brief summery. Mainly because I can't be arsed to get the filler pictures and make them funny.

I played Left 4 Dead at Eurogamer a few weeks back and I was underwhelmed. I put this down to a number of contributing factors:
1. It was a console affair,
2. The booth was the kind you'd find in a retail store,
3. The screen was split,
4. There was little sound or atmosphere,
5. It took place at a noisy, smelly, crowded games convention.

Getting my hands on the PC demo, at home and with the option of either headphones or full surround sound on a presentable 19" monitor, I don't think my first impressions were grossly incorrect. Don't get me wrong, I had fun with Left 4 Dead and technically it is perfectly sound, but I've had trouble with it, namely finding a happy medium, achieving any sense of progress and most importantly, feeling the thing. I can't describe the thing; it's just the vision of L4D that I've had since I heard about it, the feeling that doing all that stuff would invoke. It's a loose definition that you're just going to have to take my word for - Left 4 Dead is missing something.

Rewind to Zombie Panic for minute. By going through all the nuances of finding weapons and ammunition, trading amongst survivors, keeping tabs on your objectives and also, shooting zombies, the game is full of peaks and valleys, constantly changing your goal and keeping you on your toes. Then you inevitably die and become a zombie, and your perspective is totally turned on its head, with every nuance inverted to suit that style of play. You could effectively play the same map over a million times, and every time would be different. Left 4 Dead on the other hand, will only vary slightly in where the zombies are placed every round.

They are not directly comparable because they are different games - I can't say one is better than the other, particularly seeing as I've only played the demo of L4D, but Zombie Panic just has more substance. I don't know what that means, maybe I just enjoyed ZP more, maybe I was just too hyped for L4D. I'm certainly going to play it some more tomorrow because it's fun, but I know I'll be playing the same missions I played today.

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