Shack PSA: Left 4 Dead Demo Released

By Nick Breckon and Chris Faylor, Nov 06, 2008 7:25am PST Update: Right on time, the Left 4 Dead PC demo has been released via Steam and is now accessible to those that have pre-ordered the game. The demo will be provided to the non-pre-ordering public come November 11, with the game itself due November 18.

Original Story: Valve has announced that the early access demo for its co-op zombie shooter Left 4 Dead will begin tomorrow morning.

The company expects the demo to go live at 2 AM PST on Xbox 360, with the PC version hitting five hours later at 7 AM PST. The trial includes the first two levels of the hospital-themed No Mercy campaign, playable in both online and offline co-op mode.

Early access to the demo can only be gained by pre-ordering the title, either from Steam or GameStop/EB Games. The same pre-order promotion also offers a 10% discount on the game.

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74 Threads | 396 Comments




  • Based on my experience with the demo, this will be an awesome game with lots of replayability. The AI Director is brilliant, making each play through a slightly different experience. This is especially true in terms of difficulty. One boss zombie in a bad location, or one zombie swarm at a bad time can make the difference between success and defeat. It makes the challenge a bit dynamic and ensures that you'll never know exactly what you're up against.

    There have been lots of complaints about the matchmaking system. Personally, I don't mind using one, but their current system needs a lot more polish before the game is officially released. Fortunately, Valve patched in a server browser that can be accessed with a console command and got the matchmaking system working a bit more smoothly. I'm sure it will be working near-perfectly when the game is released.

    The only thing I'm really concerned about is the difficulty. Easy is pointless unless you're a squad of 4-year-olds. Normal is the real easy. Advanced provides an adequate challenge, but Expert is where the real fun is at. Most people will end up forgetting about the other difficulty modes not long after the game is released, playing Expert exclusively. While Expert is challenging for the average pick up group, it becomes far less challenging when you have a group of smart and experienced players. Getting into a group full of these sorts of players will become far more common as people get good, which will happen fast. While the AI Director does shake things up a bit, it also has its limitations. There is a threshold of possibilities that the AI Director can trigger. The game will become a bit more predictable when people figure all these possibilities out and play cautiously based on what could happen, and Expert won't be so challenging anymore.

    This means you'll have to go to Versus mode for a real challenge, but I'm sure that some of us would rather stick with the basic Campaign mode. In summary, it would be nice to have a difficulty mode beyond Expert that's nearly impossible, even for experienced players. Hell, they could even call it "Impossible". All they'd really have to do to accomplish this is keep all the qualities that Expert mode currently has, but make the zombies do significantly more damage. Unfortunately, I don't foresee "Impossible" mode happening anytime soon. Excellent game regardless. Nov 18th can't come soon enough.









  • Full impressions

    Pro
    - The graphics are phenomenal. I am a Crysis graphics whore, the worst kind. I think these are as good as CoD4 or thereabouts. I'm running maxed out with AA at 1920x1200 and it looks great. No complaints. Maybe it could look better, but I like the art. Kind of how I think Max Payne 1 still looks great.
    - The game is fun and gets funner when you work with the same people and those people are good at the game. A proper team with a proper leader will be able to beat expert mode with work.
    - Basic gameplay is alot of fun. No wandering around looking for ammo like zombie panic. Lots of zombies. The AI director provides for unique powerup locations and zombie patterns.
    - Controls feel good. Not as good as CS:S but still good. Teamwork mechanics work very well and everything inside the actual game is well polished.

    Con
    - The game is not really fun to me at normal difficulty or below.
    - The matchmaking system is a disaster. There are not enough dedicated servers, so lots of people are falling back to hosting their own.... which falls to my next point
    - No one has a connection or CPU powerful enough to host their own game. No one. WTF
    - The lack of a server browser is more than annoying, it's obnoxious
    - Buggy as fuck. If you vote for "go back to lobby" your entire party gets booted to the main menu. The game crashed to desktop twice for me in 6 hours of playing.
    - Poor integration between lobby system and steam in some cases. "invite players to game" from within the game brings up a steam friends list, but you cant tell which of your friends are already involved in other games, and sometimes there is no option to actually invite your friends to the server you are on, which begs the question: why is the menu option labelled "invite friends" when steam wont let me do it
    - You can't see from the friends matchmaking area who else is in your friend's game
    - You can't edit your controls or options from within a lobby
    - Seriously the matchmaking is completely half assed and buggy. It's not as though there isn't an example of perfection in this territory (Halo 3). All valve had to do was copy Halo 3. But its like no one is there to really do the polish. If you ask me, this is completely uncharacteristic of valve, as their stuff is usually extremely polished.
    - Lots of dropped connections, probably because no one can find a server and their "host your own" fallback is garbage

    Summary:
    The game itself is the best example yet of zombie coop play. It is a phenomenal coop game, easily up there with Gears of War 2 in my opinion. The game itself is great and has very few bugs. But the backend greatly suffers. Matchmaking is poorly done and lacking in polish, as well as buggy. Terrible server efficiency means you cannot host a game and play a game on the same computer, which is currently a serious problem due to the lack of dedicated servers. And there may not ever be many servers because the matchmaking system kind of takes the motivation from server admins to run servers for this game.

    8/10, needs more cooking in the oven (and i was MEGA hyped for this game)













  • 360 Demo impressions (which I can only give thanks to reznory hooking me up) - On a normal TV (on a 360) I have to say the engine does look a lot like CS:S. I wish there was a letterbox option for it (like Dead Space). And it becomes pretty muddy at times due to the lack of dynamic range (remember this is an older TV - but not a shitty one). Sound was pretty good.

    Despite my comments about the demo's appearance, I still really enjoyed playing it as it is exactly what I expected gameplay-wise (the versus mode should rock). I'm definitely going to hold out until I can try it on my PC to decide.