I've been wanting to break out the Left 4 Dead videogame I got for Christmas, but haven't been sure I wanted to play single-player. So I've been waiting for a couple of friends on XBox Live to start playing so I could join them in a game. I've previously played the game demo, once single-player and once multi-player, and found it to be a lot of fun.
A little background: I don't do first-person shooters. Not because I don't want to, but because playing most of them for as little as 10 minutes makes me extremely physically ill. For some miraculous reason, however, the zombie shooter that I desperately wanted to play, Left 4 Dead, is something I can play without my stomach rebelling. But I still lack the ingrained first person shooter awareness/tactics skillset that most gamers have honed to a fine edge.
Tonight, as I was about to watch an episode of Burn Notice Season One and then head to bed to do some reading, I saw that Marc Bernardin was online, and his game was listed as "Joinable." So I figured, what the hell and joined in, to find that Marc (a fine writer whose comic books included Highwaymen, a personal favorite of mine) was playing with John Rogers (a fine writer whose Blue Beetle comic was also quite good, and who has a terrific blog as well). I'd be intimidated trying to hold a conversation with these two guys, but killing zombies beside them? That I figured I could handle.
Except that every time the scores posted, I was the lowest man on the totem pole. By a lot. Even below the NPC player run by the computer. I know for a fact that I shot Marc twice with an automatic weapon when trying to kill zombies. I know that when I was trying to apply a medpack to a badly-wounded John, I couldn't figure it out, and wound up half-starting and half-starting healing on myself three times instead of just giving up, shooting and preventing him from taking any further damage. I know that during the grand rescue at the end, I couldn't find the airlift, and I wound up dying alongside the NPC. Which, honestly, was probably what I deserved.
So I played a little solo game tonight, to get more used to the controls, and I'll probably keep at that for a little while. Left 4 Dead is a really fun game, with a great creepy zombie vibe mixed in with a healthy appreciation for automatic weapons fire and classic FPS carnage. Watching the zombies swarm on a pipe bomb was a treat, learning to patiently take headshots was a lot of fun and there are all kinds of scary/cool moments, and I've only played two sections of one scenario and three sections of another one.
I'll definitely be playing more, and definitely hope to play multiplayer (which the game seems particularly geared for) after I've learned to be slightly less awful at it. Marc, if you're reading this, sorry I shot you repeatedly with an automatic weapon. But there were zombies all around us and I panicked.