Game of the Year – Left 4 DeadPublisher: Valve, Electronic Arts
UK Price: £26.99 (inc. VAT)
US Price: $56.99 (ex. Tax)
Full Review Here
Damn you, Valve. You’ve done it again – stolen our time, hearts and Game of The Year award for the second year running. Last year you did it with The Orange Box
, this year you do it with Left 4 Dead
. You talented buggers.
And really, there is a huge amount of talent that’s been poured into Left 4 Dead
. We’ve played games with friends, family and people who normally abhor computer games, but the cocktail of violence and teamwork has always gone down smooth and impressed our initially unwilling team mates.
The premise for the game is simple, with the story told more through subtle visual clues than the amazing four minute cutscene
that preludes the adventure. An infection has mutated nearly all of the human race, creating a race of savagely fast zombies that are hungry for the flesh of anyone who is left immune. That includes you and your three pals.
Using the same techniques as learned in Team Fortress 2
, Valve has created a series of recognisable characters amid the mob of frothing infected. There’s Bill, the war-weary Vietnam veteran, Hell's Angel Francis, college-girl Zoey and office worker Louis in his red tie and designer shoes. Each of them is armed to the teeth and desperate to get away from the infection.
Opposing them are a series of brilliantly balanced opponents; the huge Tank, the shy Witch, the vicious Hunter and Smoker. Oh, and vile bile-spilling Boomer too.
None of these characters stand out nearly as much as the faceless games master behind it all though, the AI Director that sits on the sidelines of each match and moves around key resources and enemies to match the pace of the game. The AI Director is the main source of frustration, elation and fun in the game and hating or loving it is something that the whole team can get involved in – and will do when it throws two tanks in a row at you!
The game isn’t wholly co-operative though and for those who fancy more of a competitive experience there’s the rather awesome Versus mode, which sees two teams of four take it turns to try and run through a map from Co-op mode. The problem of course is that the special infected are now played by the opposing team, who get full reign to terrorise and grief the humans.
As has been proven typical of Valve’s games, it’s rather easy for us to rattle off superlatives and exclamations, telling you how fantastic the story and pacing and balancing is and so on. With Left 4 Dead
though it’s become more obvious than ever that that isn’t fair or true.
The reality is instead that no specific part of Left 4 Dead
stands out because the whole game is fantastic. Everything is superbly polished, balanced, designed and made. There’s literally nothing in the game that feels more unfair than it should be. It’s within an inch of gaming perfection – which is probably why it stole almost half of the user vote!
With a fantastic multiplayer, co-operative and singleplayer experience and so much replayability that you probably won’t need another game for years, Left 4 Dead
is undoubtedly our game of the year – and yours as well.
Disagree with our reasons or your results? Let us know what you think in the forums!