Currently playing

Left 4 Dead: Survival DLC

I like many others have been pulled back into the world of zombie killing following the recent downloadable content for Left 4 Dead. We wanted more zombies and we certainly got them.

While Valve hasn’t exactly reinvented the wheel in this recent update, the new experience it provides it certainly worth dusting off Left 4 Dead for…

Getting started

  • A completely free download. Including the previously unavailable Dead Air and Blood Harvest campaigns for versus mode, and one completely new map for survival.
  • The sheer amount of enemies on the screen leads to frantic bursts of gameplay. Rounds are usually extremely short, and have more impact than even the most tense scenes from the campaign mode.
  • Beware of some potential download problems when downloading the DLC. Most of my friends list had problems getting past an endless “pending” message.
  • You’ll soon develop favourite maps, particularly the ones with easy routes to ammo and with the best tried and tested strategies for success. The lack of more new areas may start to grind.


  • You will need everyone to be working together like never before. Communication is key in every aspect of Left 4 Dead, although survival sets you up to fail discussing how to delay that outcome with other players never gets old.
  • As with versus mode, tactics are king. The game changes from a comparatively relaxed experience in the campaign mode to all out chaos, and that in itself is like playing a new game entirely.
  • The overwhelming nature of survival mode means it’s not completely suitable for people may be new to the game, it has a completely different pace and may be best saved until harder difficulties are attempted.
  • Sadly there’s no option to build your own maps in the 360 version of Left 4 Dead. I appreciate the limitations of the console copy, but that doesn’t stop me from being extremely jealous of the PC version.


  • Survival is even more of a group game, and the end of timer counter reflects this – by recording your best team survival time and your collective zombie kills by type as a group effect. Can take the pressure off the individual to rack the kill in.
  • Using the time before the clock starts to prepare a particular map for the zombie hordes is particularly satisfying. Some of the best times will be gained by utilizing the fuel cans, and ammo areas dotted around the maps.
  • It’s extremely challenging to have so many special enemies on the screen at once, while this isn’t a bad thing in itself it means one false move can lead to game over fairly quickly.
  • Other players are pretty much a requirement for playing as the NPCs can make survival an extremely frustrating experience.


773 common infected, 15 smokers, 11 boomers, 7 hunters and 12 tanks were harmed in the making of this weblog post.


Is enjoying games still a stigma?

Do you mention video games as one of your hobbies? Perhaps more of us should – numerous present gen consoles are becoming some of the best-selling game devices of all time, helping those who wouldn’t normally play games to become engaged and willing to try them.

But what about the rest of us who do this full-time so to speak? The people to whom the DS is a five year old console.

A personal example

The analogy of the DS is a good one. I remember queueing for the original Nintendo DS back in 2005 at a midnight launch. I also remember that some clubbers were trying to walk home after a short night out. They thought we too were queueing for a nightclub, and started to chat to those of us waiting there.

After explaining that we were waiting for the new Nintendo console, they came in and bought one rather than moving on to their intended venue. I can only assume based on our brief chat they were former gamers as children – remembering their nostalgia for Nintendo long since past.

A family from Katamari Damacy.

Fast forward four years and this is apparent everyhwere – a growing population of casual gamers have realised the enjoyment that can be taken from gaming as adults. The positives are starting to vastly outweigh any negative connotations for these new, but now more informed new gamers.

There is no denying that video games have become more of a mainsteam pastime of late – but even so my personal experience with being a vocal video games supporter has been largely negative. This is usually due to the following:

  • Games critique doesn’t have the same level of respect afforded to film appreciation, or TV.
  • Gamers are not properly represented our respective parliaments and institutions, and this leads to distrust and scepticism, largely fuelled by..
  • The media. Our specialist press is deemed as niche, and the mainstream press focusses on violent games, big releases, and feel good stories.
  • We all know the old idiom of games being for kids, we’re all living, breathing examples of the opposite.

There is another way

Many gamers I know are quite ashamed – or made to feel ashamed by what they enjoy, despite the joy it gives them. There are good reasons for this largely related to gaming’s infancy, and like anything young it’s open to exploitation. There’s a really nice metaphor for this too in Left 4 Dead – for those who haven’t played it features some really intriguing in-game graffiti.

Graffiti from Left 4 Dead, the largest of which reads: We are the real monsters.

This is what being a gamer often feels like to me; a continual conversation. Only the voices outside of the industry are the largest and loudest. Gamers may deal with a huge amount of prejudice for what they enjoy, but we do so because the experience of playing games can be profoundly positive and personal. The greater interaction playing them involves, over say a movie or TV programme means we feel obliged to speak up for their merits.

Is your gaming a closely guarded secret or a badge of honour? Personally, I’m long past the need for reassurance or acceptance from others, but part of me hopes others are too.