Allow me to precede this article with one simple fact: Eric Ruth is incredibly talented. At risk of sounding like an Internet stalker, I am totally impressed with what this guy can do! He is exactly the kind of person the video game industry needs – passion and motivation even when putting out high-quality, free gaming goodness. I tip my invisible hat to you, sir. Anyway, on to the review.
On its own, Pixel Force: Left 4 Dead is a solid, fairly challenging top-down shooter. It’s definitely fun, and any L4D fan should at least try to get through the first campaign. It’s worth it just to check out the cute little 8-bit versions of the various characters and Infected. Actually, even if you hate L4D but love retro gaming you should still play it.
The gameplay is just about what I expected – most time is spent either shooting at or running from zombies. It’s fun, and while I haven’t had the chance to try out 2-player mode I can tell it is equally enjoyable.
You start out with a pistol and the choice between a shotty and the Uzi. No surprises here – the shotgun sprays but has a short range while the Uzi has a longer range and what I feel is a crappy fire rate. I avoided using the pistols because they’re quite slow and weak. There is a melee attack that helps create a tiny bit of distance between you and the Infected, which is a welcome relief when contending with slow firing rates. Either way, spray-n-pray felt like the best approach for this game so I went with the shotgun on both weapon tiers. There’s no hunting rifle in the second tier of weapons – just the M16 and auto shotgun.Unfortunately, there’s no grenades either but it isn’t a huge deal if you’re cautious and don’t wind up with 10 zombies chasing you at the same time.
Sound & Visuals
The visuals are pretty true to Left 4 Dead – there are some points in the game that are definitely homages to their 3D counterparts. There’s some blood splattered on the walls and stuff, but if this game really did come out on the NES that would have never made it in!
All of the special Infected are there in some form – Boomers move quickly and have rapid-fire vomit projectiles. Hunters incapacitate you until you tap the attack button enough times to knock them off. Smokers stun you if you get hit by the tongue, although if they miss they usually just run away. Witches are instant death – I’m not sure if there’s a way to kill her. Last but not least, the Tank is incredibly tough and I haven’t downed him yet. He has his signature rock-throwing move and does a ton of damage. He is also quite cute and blue.
The sound effects are what I would consider standard 8-bit fare – some bloops, blips, bangs, etc. I will admit, I was kind of amused by the sound the Witch makes when she’s “crying”.
Music-wise, the author really pegged the soundtrack in some areas – primarily menus, safe rooms, and Tank spawns. The in-game music didn’t sound familiar, but was still undeniably retro. Regardless of familiarity, all of the sounds help make PF:L4D a truly authentic 8-bit experience.
The controls are southpaw-unfriendly, but a little JoyToKey action fixed that. If you spend any amount of time messing around with PC games you probably already have a JoyBox PS2 adapter or some other handheld controller, so do yourself a favor and set it up before trying to play this. Also – be VERY careful of accidentally hitting Esc for any reason while playing. It’ll take you back to the title page and you lose your progress, no questions asked. I learned this the hard way.
The game did crash on me once, but I restarted and didn’t have any other problems. Regardless, the author seems to be very attentive and has already released 2 updates since release. As of this writing, 1.2 is the current version. So… what are you waiting for? Go download Pixel Force: Left 4 Dead right now!
PS. Be sure to check out the rest of Eric Ruth’s site. There are a few interesting games up there including one called Mega Man Rocks! – give this dude the recognition he deserves!Last 5 posts by jendead