Let me just say the obvious: the game is more fun with friends. The not so obvious? It is scarier too. Not only are you watching your own back, you need to help your team out too, which becomes a lot more urgent when it’s a real person playing (who can scream in terror for help over Xbox Live) over a computer player. I’m not surprised to read in J’s impressions that even when playing with random people, other players don’t act like selfish funhats. It’s most likely tied to the need for mutual survival; the more of the team that stays alive, the more likely you’ll stay alive. Not to mention, the more human players there are, the more threats there are too; more hunters, smokers (tongue guys), boomers (fat exploding guys)—so it’s best if every one works together.
The other interesting thing I noticed while playing is that things so INTENSE that occasionally other players may be so wrapped up in the grim situation that they won’t respond right away because they may not hear you; a few times both playing with my brother and in three player matches, things needed to be repeated. This is no fault of the online chat servers; instead it’s because of the amount of fear that overwhelms you.
Team tactics work a lot better in a group too. Plans can be made up and executed, and sometimes, more ground can be covered as the team can split up. However, I learned very quickly that you should never leave the group to go somewhere alone. There will be undead threats to face anywhere and everywhere you go, and if you don’t have at least one other team member with you, there won’t be anyone to save you once things go bad. But sticking in a tight knit group while patrolling the area, there are few challenges you won’t be able to fend off successfully.
With real players, you’re able to plan as a team, verbally call out for rescue, and hear other people in the group freak the fuck out. It also makes the sense of accomplishment much greater when everyone makes it out of a level alive. With the demo being only two levels, I’m sure things get even more intense and the need for cooperation increases. And in the final version, there’s also multiplayer matches where you can play as zombies hunting humans.
Multiplayer puts an already great game over the top. Don’t miss out on Left 4 Dead; again, it’s out today.