Left 4 Dead gets dissected

Face it, pirates and ninjas are out and zombies are in. And we have no doubt that one of our most highly-anticipated games of this year is Left4Dead, Valve’s post-apocalyptic survival horror shooter. Our initial playtest sent chills down our spines when we first saw it at last year’s Showdown LAN, and the game looked much more refined and polished when we played it at this year’s E3. A revamped visual style and new character designs suit the cinematic direction -- the levels looked grittier and the zombies were definitely more terrifying (if that’s even possible). We spoke with Michael Booth, the designer of Left4Dead, to find out what other changes have been made to the game since Valve bought up his development team.

Above: You’ve seen this screenshot of Zoey hanging on for dear life a billion times. Want something different? Grab exclusive high res screenshots of Left4Dead at Maximum PC

Maximum PC: Tell us a little about Left4Dead, assuming we've never played it before.

Michael Booth, Designer: So the main thing with Left4Dead is, in a nut shell, it’s you and your friends surviving the zombie apocalypse. But the key thing that we’re pushing for with this game that differentiates it from any other game like this is the level of cooperation that’s required. This is really a cooperative game. With other cooperative games you may be able to play the same game together [with friends], but you kind of do your own thing. In this game you have to stay together, work together, and watch each other’s back. Because if you run off by yourself, you’re going to die.

MPC: So we just spent some time playing the game and we noticed a couple of things right off the bat: zombies running up to people, us punching them off, people getting knocked down, zombies are piling on them and then we have to punch them off and then help our teammates back up. Stuff like that -- healing other people sharing ammo.

MB: Right. At the most fundamental level, there are just too many zombies that you can’t handle them yourself right. But then beyond that we have explicit attacks like the Hunter’s pounce. If he pounces on you, you are helpless -- you’re done and will die unless a friend comes and saves you. The Smoker’s tongue is the same way. He pulls you way out of position but once he gets you he’s going to squeeze you until you die.
Find out more about what Booth’s got planned for Left4Dead by heading straight to the source at Maximum PC. You can also grab a bunch of new high res screenshots of the game by heading here.

July 23, 2008