If you've been waiting patiently for Valve's cooperative zombie survival experience Left 4 Dead, know that what's been taking so long is that they've been making it awesome. Really, really awesome. Mind-blowingly awesome. Disgustingly rad.
Dtoid.s Anthony Burch and I got some time with a four-player cooperative session of Left 4 Dead, with the game running on PCs in Valve's dark meeting room at E3 a few days ago. After about five minutes of playtime (most of which involved me screaming for my life as I was attacked by zombies, and closing doors in the faces of my team members as I ran from the mobs), I turned to Anthony and said in a very serious voice, "This is the best game I've ever played."
And it may not be hyperbole. As a first-person shooter, Left 4 Dead hits all of the check-marks that make the core game feel right. But as a cooperative game (and more importantly for me, a zombie game), there's really nothing like it on the market. You're not simply picking off hordes of undead and there just happens to be some other people shooting in the same direction as you. Survival alone is not an option; if a teammate is knocked down and pinned by a group of undead, the only way they can be set free is if you melee their attackers off, for instance. There's no question about it, you have to work together.
At one point, I wandered down a dark alley, thinking my team was following behind. I spotted a group of undead shuffling in my direction, so I fired a few shots, hoping my team would back me up. They didn't, because they were nowhere to be found, and had went off in a different direction. Dozens of shrieking undead ran towards me, "voiced" by Mike Patton in what sounded like a reprisal of his solo album Adult Themes for Voice. I panicked, I yelled, I called out for my team mates who came rushing to my aid. I may have peed myself a bit.
I will never wander into a dark alley again, but without question will be picking up Left 4 Dead day one when it ships on November 4.