22
Apr
09

Left 4 Dead Survival Mode – First Impressions

left4dead1

To be honest I wasn’t quite prepared for how quickly things would kick off when first pulling the lever on the lighthouse generator. There was that familiar distant scream as the lighthouse lit up. Regular infected began bursting into the building, a shotgun blast sends a Hunter flying backwards over the horde just as another one leaps forwards. Two smokers standing next to each other snag two of us, and suddenly there’s a tank bashing hour heads together, all within about a minute. Never has a game mode been so determined to kill me.

It’s Survivor mode. You hole up in a small arena and then everything attacks you. If you kill everything then everything else attacks you until you are dead. You will always die, often within minutes. Fortunately, losing utterly has never been so hilarious.

The hook is in the age old timer at the top of your screen, so often the object of worship in driving games, those rapidly flickering millseconds mean everything. Survivor mode records your times and keeps track, during the game you will always know how close you are to beating your record, and that is where the sense of victory comes from. Getting a better times means having a plan, and then having a backup plan, and then sticking to them as a cohesive unit. In the face of complete blinding chaos this is quite a challenge. As they say, the best made plans …

The map you explore at the start bears little resemblance to how it ends up. The hordes will come bursting through the walls at various points, even breaking apparently load bearing brick walls to get at you. As you learn the level you’ll be able to start using this to your advantage, using these holes as quick routes to the next stash of molotovs and pain pills.

The hordes themselves are a constant presence and don’t pose much of a direct threat, but they always make moving from location to location treacherous when you’re tring to flee a tank. They don’t deal much damage, and with plenty of health items everywhere it’s immobilisation that leads to your death, always at the hands of a special. In the chaos it’s easier to get seperated, but more important than ever to stick together and act as a unit.

With so many explosives littered around the level around the level comical and cataclysmic accidents are gauranteed. It’s no exaggeration to say that there are enough fire canisters to douse pretty much every surface in the level with flame and chain reactions can have far reaching and disastrous consequences for approaching hordes and team mates alike.

It’s the short form Left 4 Dead experience that many have been waiting for. With a campaign lasting about an hour and a a Versus match lasting twice that Survivor Mode brings a fierce shot of Left 4 Dead carnage straight to the vein. Of course you’ll lose that exquisite sense of victory when you claw on board the helicopter in the final moments of No Mercy, but you’ll get a lot of laughs and you’ll get to shoot a lot of stuff very quickly. Win

ludo-head-coloured

Ludo out.

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2 Responses to “Left 4 Dead Survival Mode – First Impressions”


  1. 1 Owen
    April 22, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I’ve been playing this as well. I have to confess I’m not a huge fan of it although they’re definitely worth a few hours of gameplay. It seems to me that the whole point of L4D is to survive. The only time you can really relax in the game is when you’re being carried to safety. Being killed is quite stressful and probably each one takes an hour of your eventual actual life, so to do it every 5 minutes is quite masochistic. I’ve only played these survival games online though, so I end up dying rather quicker than you’d expect over the LAN. I reckon on Last Stand your best hope of defence is to hole up in the house, not to stand on top of the lighthouse like some kind of lightning rod to smokers, but all the other players go up there and you’d do worse to go off on your own. Several times now a Tank has skimmed me out into the lake.

    I personally prefer the new ability to play the remaining two maps on versus mode. I’ve so far only played Dead Air on that mode which is quite strange because every time I’ve played it the survivors have been destroyed on virtually the first corridor outside the safe room on every level, but surviving the horde at the very end is quite easy because there’s little for the specials to hide behind and not much escalation either.


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