Zombies Are People Too

A little while ago, psu wanted to shoot zombies in Left 4 Dead with me so badly that he bought me the game.

Zombies, you see are an eternal source of friction between the two of us. Put simply, he loves zombie games, and I do not. I’m pretty sure that if he’s playing any game – say, Tetris or Lumines – he’s secretly thinking to himself “Y’know, this is pretty good, but it would be better if it had zombies.” I, on the other hand, am alternately repulsed, horrified, and bored by zombie games. Most of that repulsion comes from the obligatory tropes that the games have: terrible cameras and can’t-run-away-just-like-in-a-nightmare manueverability.

So it took a while before I was willing to even try Left 4 Dead, and it took a second session for me to realize that it was a pretty good game. On the third session, I realized why it was a good game.

Left 4 Dead is not a zombie game. Left 4 Dead is Counterstrike where the co-op mode has been made more fun by adding more terrorists but removing their guns.

We’ve been playing about every other night, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The game, at least in its co-op version, which is all I’ll play, is about a few simple principles: stick together, have fields of fire with broad coverage, and be able to concentrate fire when it matters.

The difficulty of the game varies widely within a session. I think this is an intentional decision. The “basic” enemy zombies, who satisfyingly all look like people I hated in high school, are all trivial to defeat at almost no risk, even when there are quite a few of them. This lures you into a false sense of security. The “boss” zombies, each of whom has a different (and usually gross) attack can all incapacitate a single player. So the typical death scenario comes when you get too cocky and allow yourself to be separated from your teammates.

Personally, I find Left 4 Dead to be a more satisfying shooter than Halo. This is almost certainly because I prefer cooperative play to deathmatch, since I have no first-person shooter talent. My only complaint is that the typical session lasts about an hour, which is perhaps 15 minutes too long for me. To put that into context, however, that’s an hour where I kept playing the game, which I think says something about how good it is.

If you’re interested in a game sometime, feel free to find me on Twitter and send me your gamertag.

Anyway, I just wanted to say: thanks, psu. You have convinced me that there are at least two good zombie games in the universe.

PS: Long-time readers are invited to guess at what I think the other good zombie game is.