If you saw the cover for “Daredevil” #32 in shops yesterday, you’ll know Matt Murdock will be having an encounter with The Legion of Monsters. I’m so glad these dudes are making a comeback at Marvel because I have missed them dearly. This November, Daredevil must fight off zombies, werewolves, mummies, and the daughter of Satan.
Look for “Daredevil” #33 in shops November 20th, written by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, with Jason Copland on art duties. Take a look at the preview after the break.
WRITTEN BY: Mark Waid, Chris Samnee
ART BY: Jason Copland
COVER BY: Chris Samnee
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
RELEASE: November 20th, 2013
This November, Matt battles for survival against supernatural foes unlike any other in the terrifying Daredevil #33! From the award-winning creative team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee comes one of the strangest Daredevil tales yet! The Man Without Fear’s quest to end the Sons of the Serpent organization has put him in the undead clutches of the ghastly Legion of Monsters! Now, Daredevil must battle against Zombies, Werewolves, Mummies, and even the Daughter of Satan! Not to mention the Sons of the Serpent themselves! With these frightening foes closing in, is it possible the Man Without Fear might just be afraid of something after all? Don’t miss th shocking Daredevil #33 for the answer!
Bloody-Disgusting has teamed up with Scion AV and Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals to bring you an exclusive first listen AND free download of “Pigs Kissing Pigs”, a previously unreleased track! The single release celebrates the inaugural edition of Anselmo’s Housecore Horror Film and Music Festival, which kicks off today in Austin, Texas and sees Scion A/V as the presenting sponsor. Earlier this week, Metal Sucks premiered “Ugly Mug” (which you can now download), with both “Pigs Kissing Pigs” and “Ugly Mug” being made available as a limited edition 10-inch at the festival.
The four-day festival, which is curated by Phil Anselmo and BD contributor and true crime novelist Corey Mitchell, features fantastic horror screenings, filmmaker Q&As, autograph sessions, and amazing musical performances, including a stunning closing ceremony where Goblin will be live performing the soundtrack to Suspiria during a screening of the film!
We’re thrilled to bring you this track! Head on below to listen to this amazing track and to snag your free copy!
Until the people we kill get up and kill, 505 Games' new arcade game How to Survive is gonna have to do for our latest zombie-themed fix this Halloween. The good news? You can PLAY NOW!
From the Press Release
505 Games, a global publisher of video games, announces the availability of How to Survive, a third-person action adventure game that tests players’ ability to stay alive in a world where the outbreak of an unknown virus has turned most of the population into ravenous zombies. How to Survive is available on the Xbox Live online entertainment network for the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC via Steam by Valve® Corporation.
In order to make it through the day and night, gamers must learn to fulfill their most basic needs such as seeking food, water, and shelter as well as finding an incredible variety of items to combine into dozens of handmade tools and weapons - scrap metal, tubes, bolts, fertilizer, tires, harpoons, and empty bottles are just some of the many items scattered about, but how you use them determines whether you wind up dead, alive, or undead.
Developed by Eko Software, How to Survive puts players in the center of the action as someone who, after an accident, finds himself on an island amidst a small archipelago off the coast of Colombia... but there are other inhabitants, many of whom are undead. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by a brain-hungry horde of zombies to get the adrenaline flowing... What will you do? Whom will you trust? How will you survive?
How To Survive is priced at $14.99 for Xbox Live and Steam. A PlayStation® Network version will be available later this fall as will a Wii U™ version via the Nintendo eShop. The game has been rated “M” for Mature by the ESRB.
Even better? Word has just come that a patch is coming in December to allow online story co-op! Now THAT'S what we're talking about! I'm looking at you State of Decay.
For more info visit the official 505 Games website.
Goldcrest has come on board to fully finance Troll Hunter director Andre Ovredal’s first English-language film, psychological horror The Autopsy of Jane Doe, reports ScreenDaily.
“Set in a small-town, family-owned mortuary, the film follows father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim – a beautiful young “Jane Doe.”
As they attempt to figure out how she died and who she is, they discover increasingly bizarre clues, which hold the key to terrifying secrets.”
Based on an original screenplay by Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is produced by Fred Berger (Taking Chance) and Eric Garcia (Matchstick Men) under their Impostor Pictures banner alongside Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh of 42 (Welcome to the Punch, Monsters: Dark Continent).
Goldcrest’s Nick Quested and Pascal Degove are serving as executive producers.
Production will take place in London this winter with casting underway.
Jigsaw has been woefully absent from theatres for quite a while now, and truthfully, Halloween season hasn't been the same without him. So, wondering what he, or more specifically Billy the Puppet, has been doing with all of his time off?
Below you'll find the horror spoof Living With Jigsaw from YouTube's Chris Capel. In it you'll see that Billy has been unable to adjust to a normal life and is still looking to engage in... shall we say... the same old games?
Check it out as it's legit funny and a good way to ferry along our countdown to the weekend. Look for more tricks and treats as we get closer to Halloween!
Dark surrealism is the theme of this year's Halloween art exhibit at New York's Last Rites Gallery, which will combine beauty and horror in equal measure. Read on for full details and to see a listing of the artists whose handiwork will be on display!
Opening reception is this Saturday, October 26, from 7-11pm. The exhibit will run through December 7.
From the Press Release
World famous tattoo artist PAUL BOOTH and his Last Rites Gallery opens the sixth annual “The 13th Hour” group exhibit, celebrating the spirit of the Halloween season.
In its annual exhibit, Last Rites sets out to present a broad-spectrum representation of Dark Surrealism. Held days just before Halloween, the show is the gallery's largest group exhibit and features renowned artists from around the globe- working in an array of mediums including painting, drawing and sculpture. From Gothic elegance to finely crafted grotesquery, the beauty within the darkness is embraced and brought into the spotlight.
Artists include: Stefano Alcantara, Agostino Arrivabene, Tom Bagshaw, William Basso, Nick Baxter, Blood Milk, Matthew Bone, Scott G Brooks, Matt Buck, John Cebollero, David Choquette, Ryan Matthew Cohn, Jason Goldberg, Carl Grace, Fred Harper, Naoto Hattori, Stephanie Henderson, Jeremy Hush, Sarah Joncas, Jed Leiknes, Eli Livingston, Dave MacDowell, Chris Mars, Megan Massacre, Marco Mazzoni, Jim McKenzie, Vince Natale, Buddy Nestor, Richard J Oliver, Anthony Pontius, Michael Ramstead, David Richardson, Paul Romano, Matt Rota, Richard T Scott, David Stoupakis, Tin, Yosuke Ueno, Redd Walitzki, Jasmine Worth, Vincent Xeus, and Kate Zambrano.
To learn more, head over to the Last Rites Gallery website.
There's nothing better to see than fans digging into their favorite subjects and coming up with some cool and comprehensive tidbits which you may or may not have realized.
Right now if you head on over to CableTV, you can dig on a list of every major horror movie reference from both "American Horror Story" and "American Horror Story: Asylum."
You’ll see homages given to many milestone flicks like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Shining, Saw, hell even 1977's Eraserhead! Hats off, fellas! Great job!
In June 2007 in Kumburgaz, Turkey, Yalcin Yalman, a night guard, saw and recorded a strange object hovering over the Sea of Marmara. The same UFO was seen and recorded by various other Turkish citizens in 2008 and 2009, always appearing around the same time of year.
In an effort to prove that all of the footage recorded of the UFO was nothing more than just another hoax, Turkey's National Council for the Study of Science and Technology analyzed it, sure that they'd discover that scale models, toys, or CGI was used to pull off the impressive trick.
What they proved, however, was quite the opposite of what they expected. After extensive analysis, the council found absolutely no evidence that any part of the footage was a hoax. "The objects observed on the images have a structure made of a specific material and are definitely not any kind of CGI animation or in any means a type of special effects used for simulation in a studio or for video effects," they said in their official report. "So the conclusion of this report is that the observations are not a model, marquette [sic], or a fraud."
The footage was also analyzed by professors, special effects companies, and video specialists, who all agreed that the images are indeed authentic. Nobody has yet been able to disprove any of what you're about to see.
Could this be actual video footage of extraterrestrial beings? Watch the video and then let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!
I’ll be co-hosting the Los Angeles premiere of Joe Begos’ Almost Human tomorrow as part of the Beyond Fest. If you haven’t heard the details it all goes down October 25th at 730PM. It’ll be at the Egyptian Theater at 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. You don’t want to miss this!
After the film I’ll be conducting a Q&A with Begos and the film’s cast (including Josh Ethier and Graham Skipper)! After that Begos has personally chosen Demon Knight to screen so we can party into the night!
Buy tickets HERE! It’s only $11 and you get two movies (maybe three – I’ve heard whispers of a third) along with a Q&A. Don’t be the fool that misses the premiere of a badass movie.
Far too often we throw around the phrase "horror icon" or "horror legend"; however, there is no disputing the fact that Vincent Price absolutely deserves to be described with both of those handles. And today, to celebrate Scream Factory's launch of The Vincent Price Collection (review), we count down our Top 10 Vincent Price Films.
Well known to mainstream, non-horror fans as the voice in the legendary Michael Jackson song "Thriller," Vincent Price was indeed the face of horror for quite some time. He was incredibly chilling with a voice that simply oozed horror. And it's for those enviable traits, and the fact that he spent so much of his life dedicated to the horror genre, that we honor Vincent Price with his own personal Top 10 list!
He has just under 200 acting credits to his name, then over 175 more instances where he appeared as himself. Price's credits read like a venerable laundry list of classic horror and entertainment, so it certainly was not easy to get it down to just 10. Therefore, let's start with some honorable mentions that barely missed the cut. From The Masque of Red Death to Witchfinder General and The Tomb of Legia, Price's horror work was unmatched. However, he was also a great comedic talent as well, appearing as Egghead in the "Batman" television series and the Canadian children's show "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein." He was excellent as both a horror host on shows like "Masterpiece Mystery" and a talk/game show guest, appearing on nearly 400 episodes of "Hollywood Squares" and almost 40 times on "The Tonight Show." He even had a short-lived cooking show entitled "Cooking Price-Wise with Vincent Price" (very short-lived). But it's for the horror that we love and remember him, so on to the Top 10 Vincent Price Films!
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Directed by the legendary William Castle, Vincent Price stars as the host of the haunted house party, Frederick Loren. Price's performance of Loren, combined with Castle's marketing genius, made the film a huge success. Castle floated a skeleton over the live audience with a gimmick he called "Emergo." In fact, Alfred Hitchcock himself was so intrigued by the performance of the low-budget horror film at the box office that he decided to make one of his own and give it a go. Thus, Vincent Price's House on Haunted Hill inspired Psycho.
The Tingler (1959)
Vincent Price had a memorable performance in another 1959 film directed by William Castle. And it again featured one of Castle's infamous in-theater gimmicks. The Tingler was a bit more campy than House on Haunted Hill, but it is still a great film. In The Tingler Price plays pathologist Dr. Warren Chapin, who discovers that the "spine-tingling" sensation experienced by humans during extreme fear is due to the existence of a creature every person has attached to his or her spine called a "Tingler." At the conclusion of the film, Castle broke the fourth wall and gave the appearance of Tinglers entering the theater. Random seats had been wired to deliver an electric pulse to the viewer in the chair, resulting in a shocking experience! *rimshot* The Tingler also features a scene with Dr. Chapin tripping on LSD, a first in a major motion picture. Check out the scene below.
House of Wax (1953)
Before he partnered with William Castle and his gimmicks, Vincent Price appeared in the groundbreaking film House of Wax. This was a landmark in cinema as it was the first ever full-color 3D film from a major American studio and also the first 3D film with stereophonic sound presented in regular theaters. The film was actually a remake of a 1933 movie entitled Mystery of the Wax Museum (see, they were even doing remakes back in the 1950's), and Price played Professor Henry Jarrod, a wax figure sculptor with a museum in New York in the 1890's. Directed by André de Toth, House of Wax features Price's character as a psychotic killer who hides his victims within his wax sculptures. If anyone is recalling the 2005 "remake" featuring Paris Hilton, please stop.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
One of Price's most memorable characters was Dr. Anton Phibes. Phibes was on a revenge kick against a group of doctors he felt botched his wife's surgery, resulting in her death. This film is Price at his campy best. Even though he didn't have to recite any lines during the filming of the movie, with everything being added aftewards, Price still manages to deliver a smashingly entertaining performance. Phibes' revenge plot is based upon the 10 plagues of Egypt, including frogs, rats, beasts and blood. Price returned to the character the following year, reuniting with the original film's director Robert Fuest, in Dr. Phibes Rises Again!
The Fall of the House of Usher (1960)
The Fall of the House of Usher (or simply House of Usher as it’s also known) was the beginning of an excellent string of films for Price which saw him teaming with director Roger Corman for a run of movies adapted from Edgar Allan Poe stories by writer Richard Matheson. Price plays the creepy and foreboding Roderick User, determined to keep his sister Madeline from marrying and continuing the tainted family bloodline.
The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
The second collaboration among Price, Corman and Matheson on an Edgar Allan Poe story resulted in another memorable movie. In The Pit and the Pendulum, Price plays the seriously unbalanced Nicholas Medina (he also appears as Nicholas’ father, Sebastian). Imagery from The Pit and the Pendulum is still prominent today, and the swinging blade is as recognizable as ever. This second installment in the Poe series was a larger success than its predecessor and even more well received by critics. In fact, it was due to this success that the later films in the series were made as even after the success of Usher, there wasn’t talk of a series of movies until after Pit knocked them dead at the box office.
The Raven (1963)
A third entry from the Price-Corman-Matheson-Poe collection makes the list. The Raven not only features Vincent Price, but Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre as well. The three appear as rival conjurors. A young Jack Nicholson is also in the movie. Price plays Erasamus Craver, distraught over the loss of his wife, of course, Lenore. This could not be more loosely based on the classic Poe poem of the same name, but there are, at least, a couple raven sightings in the movie. In fact, this was quite the change for Price and the Edgar Allan Poe filmmaking crew as The Raven was actually a horror-comedy and not the straight up scarefest they had previously been shooting for. Indeed, one of the highlights is hearing the delivery of that famous line, "Quoth the raven…nevermore."
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
This is the first film adapted from Richard Matheson's classic book I Am Legend. It was, of course, later used by George A. Romero as the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead, and The Last Man on Earth was remade in 1971 as a film entitled Omega Man and in 2007 as I Am Legend. In the '64 film Vincent Price plays protagonist Dr. Robert Morgan, who is trying to survive by himself in a world overrun by vampires. He hunts them during the day and attempts to dispose of as many as possible. As he gets closer to a possible cure, tragedy strikes. This is as post-apocalyptic as it gets!
The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
The Invisible Man Returns is a notable film for Price because it was his first-ever horror role. That's right; even the master of the macabre had to start somewhere. It was in this movie that Price plays Sir Geoffrey Radcliffe, a man wrongly accused of murder. In order for him to find the real killer and clear his name, the brother of the original Invisible Man injects Radcliffe with a serum that turns him invisible and allows him to go on this mission. Price was actually only onscreen for about one minute, as he was invisible for most of the movie. For the rest of the time he brought the character to live with his disembodied voice.
The Fly (1958)
We round out the Top 10 Vincent Price films with another classic, The Fly, which, much like many of Price's films, was a critical and financial success. Price played Francois Delambre, brother of Andre Delambre, the scientist who became the beast. It was another memorable performance for a man who had a career absolutely loaded with them. Vincent Price was a trailblazer for the genre. This time, instead of playing the villain, Price gets to deliver the final line of morality of the film, explaining how his brother died in search of the truth. He did it with a giant fly head, but he did seek truth!
You can purchase the THE VINCENT PRICE COLLECTION Blu-ray directly from Scream Factory's website.
This 4-Disc Blu-ray™ collector’s set brings together SIX Vincent Price masterpiece classics, featuring the first-ever Blu-ray movie presentation of FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1960), THE HAUNTED PALACE (1963), THE MASQUE OF RED DEATH (1964), THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961), WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968) and THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971). Brimming with a bevy of chilling bonus content including interviews with producer/director Roger Corman, audio commentaries, original theatrical trailers, still galleries and archival materials, this Blu-ray collection also includes a 24-page Collector’s book.
You Have The Right To Remain Silent… FOREVER!
Blue Underground is bringing a 2013 DCP Restoration of director William Lustig’s Maniac Cop 2 to theaters this fall in advance of its upcoming Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Combo Pack release. Featuring a brand-new 4K High Definition transfer from the original camera negative and new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, this Maniac Cop 2 DCP is the definitive presentation of the action-packed cult-horror favorite!
“The “Maniac Cop” is back from the dead and stalking the streets of New York once more. Officer Matt Cordell was once a hero, but after being framed by corrupt superiors and brutally assaulted in prison, he sets out on a macabre mission of vengeance, teaming up with a vicious serial killer to track down those that wronged him and make them pay… with their lives!“
Additional screenings will be added as they are confirmed. Information can be found online at http://blue-underground.com/maniaccop2/.
Visit Blue Underground’s Facebook page for additional information and updates.
The Maniac Cop 2 and Maniac Cop 3 Collector’s Edition Blu-ray Combo Packs arrive in stores November 19.
NECA has found a cool little niche in the toy market that they’re capitalizing on as quickly as possible – and I’m more than okay with that.
Fans who attended the San Diego Comic-Con this past July scored an 8-bit Jason Voorhees based on the “Friday the 13th” video game. Then, immediately after, NECA revealed they’ll also be making Freddy Krueger from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” available for the holidays.
Then what? They’re pulling the trigger on “Robocop”. They teased the next 8-bit action figure in the below image, and also implied that we may see “Predator” down the line (hopefully Dutch).
What other 8-bit figures would you like to see on your shelf?
Wiki explains that “RoboCop” was released in 1988 by Nihon Bussan/AV Japan. In the game, a player controls RoboCop who advances through various stages that are taken from the 1987 movie. The bonus screen is a target shooting range that uses a first-person perspective. The intermission features digitized voices from the actors.
Several reworked versions appeared for home computers and video game consoles, most of them handled by Ocean, as well as a NES version ported by Sakata SAS and published by Data East.
Filmmaker Peter Ellis caught me in a brief moment where I was staring at the screen looking for something to do, and asking if I’d share with you guys his indie short “Blood Puzzle”.
It’s only 2:30 and looks really good. Won’t you donate a brief moment of your time?
“Just beyond the wall of sleep, a conflicted man meets a nightmarish creature, the Puzzler, who commands him to finish what he started. A struggle to complete the game between them leads the man to a reality which may be more horrific than the dream he leaves behind.“
It’s Misery meets Adventures in Babysitting in the story of a teenage babysitter, trapped inside a suburban home, who is forced to go head-to-head with a psycho.
Arriving on video October 22 is Bad Behavior. Bloody Disgusting has landed two exclusive looks at the film starring Terminator icon Linda Hamilton, “E.R’s” Hallee Hirsh and Ted McGinley.
“The nail-biting DVD Premiere stars Hallee Hirsh (TVs Grey’s Anatomy) as Zoe, a teenager hired for an overnight babysitting assignment from a seemingly perfect family. The only worry she has is avoiding the unwelcome advances of teen brothers Tyler and Jack. Things go awry when Zoe suddenly finds herself in a bathroom groggy and confused with only the two youngest kids with her. While Tyler tries to explain how they got in there, an intruder attempts to break the door in.
Soon Zoe discovers the “intruder” is Jack, who’s had a psychotic break. The kids decide to wait out the night in the bathroom, as they expect their parents back in a few hours. When that help never arrives, they plot and attempt another escape, only to further anger Jack in the process. Zoe begins to realize that nothing is as it seems in this house, and that she isn’t the first babysitter to learn this lesson.“
It’s impossible to deny the impact that Michael Jackson, the true king of pop (suck it, Kanye), had on the music world. The man put out “Thriller”! Is that not enough reason to respect and appreciate the hell out of him?
And it’s because of “Thriller” that several prominent metal musicians have come together to record Thriller – A Metal Tribute To Michael Jackson! The album features appearances from Chuck Billy (Testament), Bumblefoot (Guns N Roses), Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Chris Jericho (Fozzy), and many more! Head on below to see the full track list and head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy!
1. Thriller (Chuck Billy of Testament)
2. Man in the Mirror (Billy Sheehan of Mr. Big, Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria)
3. The Way You Make Me Feel (Angelo Moore of Fishbone, Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake, Rudy Sarzo of Queensrÿche)
4. Black or White (Bruck Kulick, Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, Tony Franklin of The Firm)
5. Beat It (Priya Panda of Diemonds, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal of Guns N’ Roses)
6. Billy Jean (Corey Glover of Living Colour, Phil Campbell of Motörhead)
7. Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) (Elias Soriano of Nonpoint)
8. Rock with You (Doug Pinnick of King’s X)
9. Dirty Diana (Chris Jericho of Fozzy)
10. Bad (Craig Goldy of Dio, Paul Dianno)
11. They Don’t Care About Us (Icarus Witch)
12. Never Can Say Goodbye (Lonnie Jordan of War)
13. Smooth Criminal (Re-Recorded) (Alien Ant Farm)
For one day only Woot is selling this fantastic Army of Darkness-inspired T-shirt entitled “Groovy”.
The artist description teases a new game of rock, paper, scissors, in which chainsaw beats all. Here are the rules: “Okay, so rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, and paper beats rock, and chainsaw beats everything, but if you use chainsaw on someone, he gets nubs to use in the next round, and nubs beat everything because, you know, pity.
“However, if you’re beaten by someone with nubs you get charity points, and if you save enough charity points you can buy a foundation, and if you use a foundation it means that everyone needs to donate whatever they throw down – scissors, rock, paper, chainsaw, or nubs – to your cause, which means they lose the round but get double charity points to put towards building a rival foundation, which they can use to get back their moves from rounds previous.
“Of course, nobody plays with any of these moves, though, because everyone knows that the real way to win at everything in life is with a reference to a cult classic horror comedy.“
Before Fox’s Devil’s Due opens in theaters January 17, Paramount Pictures kicks off the New Year with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones on January 3, 2014.
Written and directed by Christopher Landon, and starring Richard Cabral, Carlos Pratts, and Eddie J. Fernandez, Paramount international has released a new trailer for the Latino-themed haunter.
“After being “marked,” Jesse begins to be pursued by mysterious forces while his family and friends try to save him.”
We now have a few hi-res images for the hotly anticipated “The Returned,” which makes its American debut on Sundance Channel starting on Thursday, October 31st at 9PM ET/PT.
“In an idyllic French mountain town, a seemingly random collection of people find themselves in a state of confusion as they attempt to return to their homes. What they don’t know yet is that they have been dead for several years, and no one is expecting them back. As they struggle to reintegrate with their families and past lovers, buried secrets emerge and new mysteries develop as they grapple with a miraculous and sinister new reality. But it seems they are not the only ones to have returned from the dead. Their arrival coincides with a series of gruesome murders which bear a chilling resemblance to the work of a serial killer from the past.”
Anne Consigny, Frédéric Pierrot, and Clotilde Hesme all star.
If you’ve been craving another zombie game, 505 Games and EKO Software have something for you. It’s called How to Survive and it sounds like it brings together the gameplay of Dead Nation with the weapon crafting of Dead Island. We’ve been given a launch trailer to celebrate the game’s release on PC, XBLA, PSN and the Wii U — watch it after the jump.
Welcome to Ghosts of Gaming Past — here we’ll be reviewing older horror games, classics and non-classics we missed when they were originally released. Have a game you’d like reviewed? Send us an email.
Written by Kevin Kennedy, @thekevmiester
It’s been 5 years since Valve released Left 4 Dead, their high octane zombie shooter which is low on story but heavy with action and a dreary atmosphere. Online shooters are a tricky beast to review after the fact; while having an online component may well keep people playing your game for slightly longer, there may come a time when it isn’t actually possible to play anymore, at least not effectively. I thought I’d dive back into Left 4 Dead and see how it holds up.
As previously mentioned, Left 4 Dead is light on story. Simply put, zombies are about and they want to smash your head in. There are 4 campaigns to survive, each consisting of 5 chapters, as yourself and three other characters (players or AI controlled) make your way across the areas. From a college student, a war veteran, a bad ass biker gang member and an unemployed office worker, the characters aren’t designed to be deep. They spit out the occasional funny line and can interact with each other, but it’s only really people that spend a lot of time with the game that will even remember or like the characters.
Upon first entering the game, everything can seem very daunting. You’ll most likely be teamed with players who know exactly what they’re doing and will run ahead, leaving you feeling rather anxious as you both try to keep up whilst learning the controls. While not a dreadful thing as it adds to the tension, the lack of any real tutorial and any real help does throw you in the deep end. While I don’t mind this too much myself, it may turn some off.
The zombies themselves may be mindless charging monsters, but they have some smarts to them. They can climb fences and jump through windows easily enough. You may see the occasional simpleton that goes the wrong way and they don’t seem too bothered by fire but there’s nothing that spoils the experience. The special zombies however have slightly sharper wits among them.
The smoker will cautiously follow you, waiting for an opening before sticking it’s tongue out. The Boomer will hide behind corners hoping to catch you unaware while the Hunter will usually just leap erratically at you until it lands a hit. The same can be said for the Tanks and Witches, which when called into action, will usually just charge head first into the action.
The real AI comes in the form of the Director, the program used to subtly change the game each time you run through. Things like enemy placements, music cues and character dialogue will change with each play-through. While the game experience will hardly change, it does keep things from getting too stale too soon and also keeps you on your toes.
There is very little horror in this game, only tension. Barely a moment goes by without at least one thing trying to kill you. After enough play-throughs you may start to feel somewhat confident and complacent, but that’s when a single slip up or a Tank will be thrown into the mixture and put you back on your toes. It’s exciting stuff!
As excellent as the game is, it is always down to the people you are playing with. You’ll occasionally run into a scumbag who deliberately shoots you five times before disconnecting, but for the most part everybody is keen to have fun. That being said, it’s hard to feel that the stats revelled at the end of each chapter only encourage people to focus more on getting kills than working together, but going off alone is usually the best way to remind people how important team work is.
If you’ve played other Valve shooters you’ll be right at home with how this controls, though the “shoot first ask later” mentality won’t serve you too well here due to friendly fire, which isn’t too much of an issue on lower difficulties, but can be game ending on higher settings. As for the controls themselves, they are as great as you would imagine though given the speed of the game and number of enemies on screen, I recommend you play with a mouse and keyboard.
When you have completed each campaign a few times and feel the challenge disappearing, there is always the option to enter Vs mode which will drop you right back off in tension alley. In this mode there are two teams of four and you take turns playing as both zombies and survivors; the survivors trying to make it to the safe house as per usual, but with player controlled zombies trying to stop them. This mode was met with some criticism upon release due to the fact that the zombies have too short a life span to actually enjoy.
While I don’t necessary disagree, I feel that some people approached the game in the mind set of charging down survivors like some brutish monster, when actually it should be played much more methodically than that. Sure you can just charge as soon as you spawn, though much more effective is to attack together from vantage points that serve your character. It can be greatly rewarding to pull off the perfect attack and watch the survivors either desperately run for cover or see their health bars slowly deplete. Conversely, escaping such an attack as survivors can be more satisfying than any moment in the single player can be.
Oh, there is also a single-player portion of the game which allies you with bots, but put quite plainly, if you don’t like playing with others, this is not the game for you. The only offline activity worth taking is the developers commentary, which I’m always appreciative of.
While all this is well and good, you all most likely read the majority of this stuff back in 2008. The major selling point though is wether or not the game is still playable. The answer to that query is yes. Well…. mostly. I’ve been checking in over the last few days and there have still been a fair few number of people still playing (667 at time of writing). Not nearly as much as there was upon release, but enough to warrant downloading it again should you fancy a game.
On the other hand, if you’re wanting to start a new campaign from scratch with three other players, you may have to set up your own lobby and wait a while. A long while. Bottom line, there are still enough people playing to warrant getting in, though it may still be best to jump in with friends you can talk to and reliably make a new game with.
While there is no real story to speak off, the atmosphere is very thick in Left 4 Dead. Gabe Newell supposably based the outbreak heavily upon the Spanish influenza in regards to how people reacted and what the government’s response to it was. The palate is decidedly grim; very little colors to be seen here, which can also be said of the zombies. You rarely see them long enough to study them, though you will notice the occasional repetitive design and fall animation but quite frankly none of it really matters. There’s enough visible feedback and detail to keep you invested and the dead have just enough life in them to register them as a threat.
If there is one usual defining feature of a Valve game, it’s the superb level design. There may be the occasional sign against a wall that outright tells you where to go, but the world feels vibrant and even open while still being very much linear. While you may walk into the occasional empty room, you will never get lost, even whilst running through the corn fields.
This is one of those games that absolutely require a good set of headphones. Not because the sound design is good, which it certainly is, but because using sound to accurately pinpoint where unseen enemies are is almost essential to playing the game. Without them, you’ll be jumping and spinning around whenever you hear any of the special zombies making their noises. The aforementioned AI Director tries to affect the mode every so often with changes in music. While somewhat effective, they act more as cues to what danger is around (you’ll come to recognise the “Tank” music very quickly).
The Final Word: Left 4 Dead holds up. The servers may not be as full as they used to be, but those who missed out before still have time to jump back in. Given Valve’s behaviour lately though, I wouldn’t be surprised if Left 4 Dead went free to play some time in the near future. I can imagine the servers being far more busy then. Regardless, still an incredibly tense, repayable, unique game that stands the test of time.