This year’s insane release schedule of “wait ten months then shove all the good stuff out at once” is well documented around the place; my original plan was to complement WAR with Far Cry 2, Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV and Guitar Hero World Tour, leaving Saints Row 2, Call of Duty: World at War and a bunch of MMO expansions, amongst others, for the Great Gaming Drought presumably due for the first ten months of next year. So far, WAR’s still ticking over nicely, I’m rocking away in Guitar Hero World Tour when I get the chance, and Far Cry 2 has generally been satisfying any machine-gun toting cravings, leaving Fallout 3 still in its shrinkwrap, and only the delay of Grand Theft Auto IV into December has saved it from the same fate. I really don’t need any other games competing for my time, that’s for sure. No other games, definitely not, no siree bob.
So obviously I just got Left 4 Dead. I’d been filing it under “looks good, will pick it up sometime”, but then with all the Rock Paper Shotgun coverage and their podcast with Erik Wolpaw I started getting tempted, and a bunch o’ people from my old City of Heroes supergroup were having a bunch o’ fun with the demo, and Far Cry 2 bogged down a bit (good game and all, but gets slightly samey), and when Melmoth finally waged a sustained campaign of brainwashing and intimidation (I think his exact words might’ve been “it’s quite good you should try it”) I caved in and grabbed it from Steam. Single player is a fun quick blast, helped by some half decent NPC AI, but of course it’s the co-operative mode that really shines, putting you and your friends in your own zombie film. The AI director makes every game slightly different, though even with that I’m not sure the built in missions have the greatest potential for longevity (although mods do offer some really great future possibilities). Versus mode is what takes it up a notch even from that, with fantastic asymmetric gameplay as you alternate between the heavily armed and vastly outnumbered survivors and the “boss” zombies, with greater powers than the normal shamblers, but still incredibly vulnerable. Believe the hype, it’s great!