Left 4 Dead Review (PC)


Quick-Action Survival Horror

Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for a game like this?  A game where no matter how many times you play it you never know what is going to happen next?  I tell you, as a lover of games I am excited.  As a lover of zombies, I have reached a state of nirvana.

Left 4 Dead is the latest PC horror survival game from those beautiful people at Valve.  You can pick as one of four survivors trying to make it back to (living) civilization before you are killed by hordes, nay armies, of the living dead.  And these bastards are very realistic.  You remember the last remake of Dawn of the Dead, how the zombies all took off like marathon runners?  Just picture that, but with a few mutations and a strange sense of intelligence.  It’s almost like these guys aren’t even scripted.  But with Valve’s A.I. Director, basically the game thinks for itself.  Changing the gameplay according to your actions.  It’s a beautiful thing.

So after waiting and waiting for the release after watching other people play it at PAX 2008 in Seattle, I finally got my turn with it.  In the beginning you get to see a little video of what happens just before you take control of your character.  The four survivors are running from a huge hulking beast of a mutant down an alley, and it ends on the roof of a building.  This is where you get to choose which mode you want to play in, I.E. campaign, multi-player, or single player.  Then you get to choose which character you want to be.  Finally, you get a wide array of story choices to get you on the road to killing massive amounts of zombies.

Here are the system requirements for the game itself.

  • Supported OS: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / Vista64
  • Processor: Pentium 4 3.0GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB
  • Graphics: 128 MB, Shader model 2.0, ATI 9600, NVidia 6600 or better
  • Hard Drive: At least 7.5 GB of free space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
  • Supported OS: Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / Vista64
  • Processor: Intel core 2 duo 2.4GHz
  • Memory: 1 GB
  • Graphics: Shader model 3.0, NVidia 7600, ATI X1600 or better

And here is what my machine is packing.  No, it’s not a banana hammock.

  • AMD Athlon X2 3800+ processor
  • 3 GB of system memory
  • ATI HD 2400 w/ 256MB of graphics memory
  • 320 GB Seagate SATA HD
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate

To begin with, the Valve boys/girls built this game on the Source gaming engine, meaning you get massive amounts of quality without sacrificing gameplay performance.  In short, you can place this game on mediocre cards so long as they support the shading required.  I was able to play this on my onboard video, which is an Nvidia GeForce 6150 LE with only 64MB of graphics memory.  I was not able to play this on my old GeForce 5500 with 256MB memory, however.  So when you go grab a card, focus more on making sure it has Shader Model 3.0, then worry about the memory.