Greg went artsy with his Left 4 Dead review, but art aside, I’ve got to be honest:
That shit is fun as hell.
I’ve never been able to play a first-person shooter so easily and have so much damn fun. I’ve been waiting for a co-op game like this since I started playing Doom II back when I was 11 or 12. My mother and father weren’t so into computer games like that, and I was (otherwise blissfully) an only child.
As a Survivor in Left 4 Dead, though, I consistently do the most damage to my teammates (hey, I’ve got to be proud of something), have consistently awful aim, and am often the one that goes, “Oh, shit, I hear a hunt–oof!” (Ditto for the other special infected.)
I did, however, get the Jump Shot achievement (catching a Hunter mid-air) before Greg. It’s up for debate whether I’m competitive at my core, but I’m proud of every damn one of my achievements, because I’m only a gamer, dammit, not a Gamer.
What I love most are the recaps. Me and Greg telling Nathan a story of trying to make it through “No Mercy” or “Dead Air”, each of us jumping in to add tidbits and cracking up. Mimicking the sounds of the special infected.
Retelling how I saw a group of zomblies, lobbed a molotov at them, and found out from the ensuing cussing that Greg was in the middle of that pile.
Remembering how, on our first pass through the finale of “No Mercy” in Normal (rather than Easy), we were screwed by wandering AI Survivors. I turned around at one point — after the Tank had cleared our rooftop — to find Greg hanging from an inaccessible ledge and shouting for help. Obviously, we restarted that one.
Recalling playing a Boomer in versus mode, hiding behind a Witch, desperately trying to waken it (not allowed) and being more than happy to settle for Maher shooting me… and startling the Witch in the process.
It’s rather like being in a table-top roleplaying game. Because I don’t play much with strangers, I have a set of shared experiences involving my character’s struggles (and I consistently play Zoey) with the few people I play with. Despite the lack of character customization, we quote our characters’ silly sayings and identify with their sentiments. We can talk locations and strategies about upcoming places almost as if we were the Survivors ourselves, playing everything over and over again, as Greg wrote in his post. All it takes is a couple of games playing as Survivors to find yourself in sync with someone, each of you knowing when to watch the back of the other.
It’s a type of shared experience I really enjoy getting to have with long-distance acquaintances and friends.