Exactly 10 years ago, Valve released Left 4 Dead, a cooperative first-person shooter that took the industry by storm.
10 years ago, it was widely held as not only only of the best games of 2008, but one of the best cooperative games of all time and a generational defining classic. 10 years later, people still feverishly praise the zombies game, as well cry out for the series to return.
Set during the aftermath of a zombie outbreak, the game pits four "Survivors" against relenting hordes of zombies.
In addition to a single-player mode and four player co-op campaign mode, the game came packing an eight player online versus mode and a four player survival mode. In each mode, and AI, dubbed the "Director," controlled level pacing and item placements in order to make every round feel dynamic and fresh. And unlike many games, none of the modes felt throwaway.
But what ultimately made Left 4 Dead so great was what felt like infinite replayability. It arriving during the height of the zombies popularity that engulfed entertainment probably didn't hurt either. What I, and probably many others remember about Left 4 Dead, is playing its missions and mode types over and over and over and over again to the point that even know when I hear the names Bill, Zoey, Francis, or Louis, I think of the four survivors and the countless times they met their demise from the result of a charging Boomer.
I mean, who can forget the first time they came across The Witch? Or the countless moments of barely escaping The Horde? Or the sweat that dripped down your neck when you heard The Tank coming your way? Left 4 Dead is a game of moments, before being a game of moments was the trendy thing. Since it and its sequel, many games have tried to replicate the Left 4 Dead experience, but no game has, a testament to its quality and legacy.
Left 4 Dead is available on Xbox 360 and PC. It's equally terrific sequel, Left 4 Dead 2 (which arrived a year later) is available on the same platforms. Sadly, there's been no word of a Left 4 Dead 3, but there's hope.