We've seen "survival horror" video games, pitting man against deadly creatures in scary environments, and we've seen multiplayer-focused first-person shooters with an emphasis on co-op play. Now there's LEFT 4 DEAD, a new zombie thriller that combines both genres into an intense – yet mature – action experience. Published by Valve, the creators of Half Life and Counter-Strike, comes this modern-day survival horror game that challenges four "survivors" to stay alive despite attacks by hordes of the undead and mutated creatures. By working together and coordinating efforts, players will traipse through dangerous locations – such as a subway tunnel, countryside, airport, loading dock and hospital – and will need to help each other to stay alive (example: only a teammate can help another survivor if taken down by a zombie). Players can also heal each other and save their progress at safehouse spots and rescue points.
The main game is divided into four scenarios, each lasting about 60 to 90 minutes or so, but the time it'll take depends on how the survivors -- the attractive Zoey, a biker Francis, an army vet Bill and an average guy Louis-- tackle the level as a few alternate routes and objectives can extend the adventure. While this doesn't sound like a long game, gamers can play Left 4 Dead solo, with artificial intelligence (A.I.) handling the other survivors (called 'bots), or better yet, with 2 or 3 other online players for both the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game. In fact, playing with real people is preferred as you can better strategize and work together instead of the A.I. teammates merely following your lead (and if you're hurt, you can't request to change formation with 'bots as you can with human players). Zombies can move slowly, like Night of the Living Dead, or quickly, a la 28 Weeks Later. Then there's creeps like The Smoker with its frog-like tongue that can strangle those out to harm it.