One of the most interesting conversations in the community of videogame philosophers is the idea of emergent narrative - the story and Emotional Torque that isn't in the text or the cutscenes, but, like the idea that a queen is worth nine pawns, is created by the way the game plays. Valve gets this. And when they created Left 4 Dead, they did it right. This game trains you to be a zombie movie protagonist - you shoot for the head, you never split up, and No One Gets Left Behind unless they're dead. The game mechanics support the narrative of the zombie movie - the enforced darkness when the Witch is near; the fading of the light as you lie bleeding on the ground, desperately firing your pistol at the zombies swarming around you; the agonizing slowness of your pace when you've taken major damage; and, of course, the terror of the lone survivor, sprinting towards safety knowing that every monster in the world closes in. It can be played one-player or over the Internet, but I recommend holding a LAN party or meeting friends at an internet cafe, if at all possible. After all, your only hope of survival depends on your three comrades, and if you want to avoid the natural limitations of computer-controlled characters (although that can be mitigated to an extent via the built-in voice-command macros), it's best to have partners for whom the GIFT doesn't apply.
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