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Preview: Left 4 Dead's multiplayer mode

5:25 PM on 10.17.2008

If I had to use one word to describe the feeling I experienced most frequently while playing Left 4 Dead's multiplayer mode the other night, I'd have to go with intense. I've been looking forward to this game for a long time now and left pretty satisfied with what I played. Good zombie games are far and few between and Left 4 Dead looks to make up for that.

Hit the jump for my hands-on impressions of the multiplayer mode where you get to play as a human AND as a zombie. 

Left 4 Dead's eight player multiplayer mode will see players playing both sides as one of four survivors and one of four very different zombies. The goal in multiplayer is to get through the map alive. The further you get in a map as a Survivor, the more points you get.

Playing as a Survivor is very straight to the point. The game starts you off in a small locked room containing automatics, shotguns, health packs, and ammo to go along with your infinite handgun. Once the team is set and ready, it's time to leave the little safe house and venture onto the streets full of zombies that all want a juicy chunk of your brain.

It is extremely important to work as a team in the game. If you try to go your own course and separate from the team, you're dead. If a zombie manages to force you to the ground, you can't get up unless a teammate shoots the zombie off of you. There is an endless horde of zombies that will come after you and doing things on your own is suicide. Don't even bother getting this game if you don't have a mic.

If you do get left behind, you'll be able to see the glowing outlines of your teammates through buildings to see where they are. You can see how low their health is this way as well (Green is full, yellow is medium and red is very low). If your partners get too low in health, they'll lay on the ground unable to move until someone helps to revive them. They can still shoot from this position until they're helped or until their face is chewed off. Dead Survivors won't respawn and will have to watch the other Survivors until the end of the round or until everyone is killed off.

As the Survivors go through the map, they'll come across weapons caches containing ammo, different guns and explosives such as pipe bombs or Molotovs. 

Once the end is reached, or everyone dies, the round is over and the roles are switched. Now it's time to be a zombie. 

Becoming a zombie will remind players of Team Fortress 2 as each of the four zombies are very different and unique. The game will randomly have players become one of four zombies:

  • Boomer: It's a giant fat zombie that vomits on Survivors. If a Survivor gets hit with vomit, their vision is blinded and a swarm of regular zombies will all go for them. Will blow up if shot in a big explosion of meat and vomit.
  • Smoker: Shoots out a 50-foot tongue that will wrap around the necks of Survivors, slowly checking them as the Smoker reals them in.
  • Hunter: Can jump at Survivors from a distance, that if connected, will drop the Survivor to the ground, immobilizing the Survivors. 
  • Tank: Giant, muscular zombie that takes a lot to take down. Can rip up sidewalks and pick up cars to throw at Survivors. Very rare to become the Tank.

The zombies' only goal is to take down the Survivors. When you start as one of the special zombies, you will start out exactly where the humans are. You can't spawn yet, however, but you can move around the map in this ghost-like state. Only once you've moved a good distance away from the Survivors will the game let players spawn.

It's pretty easy for a zombie to get killed, so you'll still need to strategize with your teammates in order take down the humans. Zombie players will respawn after about 20 seconds, so it's never the end for the zombie side if killed.

Zombies will be able to see humans through walls in the same manner that humans can see each other through walls, giving them a bigger strategic advantage when it comes to hunting the fresh meat. Zombie players can also climb up walls letting them get the jump on humans from above. Players can score in the zombie mode, but the only points that matter are gained as a Survivor.

Overall, I'm really happy with what I played. A good zombie game has been needed for a long time now, and Left 4 Dead is easily the best zombie game I've played in a long time (Resident Evil 4 and 5 don't/won't count as Las Plagas are not zombies).

Left 4 Dead will be out November 18 for the Xbox 360 and PC. Check out the official homepage for the game for more information. 

Preview: Left 4 Dead's multiplayer mode photo
Preview: Left 4 Dead's multiplayer mode photo
Preview: Left 4 Dead's multiplayer mode photo
Preview: Left 4 Dead's multiplayer mode photo

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