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