I don't care what modern cinema says: Zombies don't run. Yes, I realize that the hordes in Left 4 Dead are technically "infected," and not "reanimated corpses," but when you market a game as being filled with endless hordes, those of us who grew up on the genius of George Romero are going to be a bit miffed when some armless, milky-eyed bastard comes sprinting out of the darkness.
That said, everything else Valve set out to do in Left 4 Dead has worked out pretty well: There's nothing quite as fun as wandering the darkened hallways and streets of an unnamed city with three friends, spraying reams of ammo and tossing makeshift explosives at hundreds of foes. Left 4 Dead boasts exactly the sort of cooperative gameplay we've been hoping for ever since games began offering multiplayer options, and even the slight lag that occasionally crops up in online games can't detract from the months of enjoyment shooter fans will find here.
Notice how I'm focusing on the multiplayer aspect when talking up Left 4 Dead? That's because there's essentially no single player mode. You can play the multiplayer campaign with computer-controlled partner characters, but that's the sort of tacked-on extra that would normally be included with any other shooter's multiplayer mode.
Even with Left 4 Dead being one of the most entertaining multiplayer games of the last few years, the whole package seems a bit skimpy considering the $60 price tag, especially in light of all the other shooters that offer a complete single player and multiplayer mode for the same amount of cash. Compared to Valve's last release—the three-game The Orange Box, which hit retail shelves for $10 less than Left 4 Dead—this game seems positively anemic. Still, if you've got a cartoonish bag with a dollar sign drawn on it, and a group of friends with an itch to slay some faux zombies, this is the best way to scratch it.