A couple of months ago a friend of mine picked me up a copy of Left 4 Dead for my birthday. Given my love of video games, and the fact that I loathe the undead, it seemed like a perfect match. As far as the game itself goes, I think it's pretty solid. It's a lot of fun most of the time, despite a few bugs and the controversy around the announcement of Left 4 Dead 2.
For those unfamiliar with the game:
Left 4 Dead is presented as being sort of a cinematic experience. You play a campaign in 5 acts. The AI controlling enemy behavior and item drops is called the Director. The game takes cues from film in the way that it alerts players to changing events--when a mob of zombies is about to come running onto the scene you get specific "zombie mob" cue music. When there are boss zombies around, they have special theme music alerting you to their presence. That kind of thing.
Every campaign follows the same four survivors trying to go from Point A to point B in an effort to escape to a safe zone free of zombie infection. They do so by traveling from safe-house to safe-house. The game does a very good job of creating atmosphere and mood--the safe-houses are filled with the scrawled graffiti of past survivors, and you sometimes come across the bodies of former survivors who died trying to escape, or houses/buildings where survivors attempted to make a stand but fled.
The game is generally pretty light on story, being mostly focused on presenting an engaging multiplayer experience, so we don't get a whole lot of backstory about the survivors, except through the things they say to each other, or the dialogue they have throughout the game. Zoey, Francis, Bill, and Louis.
I have a few groups of people that I usually end up playing with, and most of the time, if I limit myself to those people, it's fine. But if I start playing with random groups, I get treated to constant bickering about Zoey and Louis. See, Zoey is a woman, and Louis is a black man.
Louis gets pounced by a zombie? Oh, it's because he's black.
Louis wanders off alone? Yeah, he's black.
Louis makes a comment about finding weapons in another room? Of course he did... he's black.
A male player plays Zoey? "I always knew you were really a girl."
Zoey gets attacked by the smoker? "Even the zombies want to rape Zoey!" Yeah. For real.
It's at the point where I refuse to play on random servers because I just cannot stomach the level of hate and bigotry on display. The other day I was treated to ten minutes of listening to a back and forth about how gay various players were, before I finally quit. I've tried calling people on it, but, it doesn't seem to help.
Mostly this is just a rant, because I'm fed up with it. It's too bad, because if you get rid of all the complete assholes, L4D is a pretty fun co-op game. When you pull of a really well coordinated attack, or fight through a particularly tough episode as the survivors, it's a ton of fun. Unfortunately, you always risk the complete assholes.