Enemies, Weapons, and Level Design
Each boss has his or her…or ‘its’…special abilities in their constant struggle against those who don’t want their brains eaten. For instance, the Smoker comes equipped with a 100’ tongue that is perfect for grabbing victims from unforeseen locations, holding them hostage until it is either shot or the victim is melee’d. While in the smokers grasp, the victim is left to the mercy of horde, which as you can see, doesn’t mean much since the survivors are snacks to them.
The Hunter crawls along at a slow pace, but has the ability to lunge and pin the survivors to the ground, slashing and attacking, leaving them completely helpless unless another survivor knocks the Hunter off. The Boomer does a good Michael Moore impression as it ‘blorps’ and ‘oozes’ from place to place, vomiting or exploding on survivors, which in turn attracts the horde in droves to attack. The rarest boss is the Tank, a level specific spawn that is practically unstoppable, except with copious amounts of weapons and pipe bombs. The tank moves fast and can knock survivors across an area, even lobbing huge chunks of the ground at people with the alternate fire. There is a fifth boss, the Witch who cannot be player-controlled, but can be almost as bad as the tank considering she takes quite a beating and will knock any survivor down should they happen to startle her. Words of advice: Don’t startle the Witch.
Weapon selection is decent in L4D, consisting of .45 pistols (which can be dual-wielded), Uzi’s, Pump-action shotgun’s, an M16, the mini-14 sniper, and an automatic shotgun. There are not grenades, but there are Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs, which are key ingredients for my favorite zombie dishes, Zombie Flambé and Zombie Soup, respectively. There is also a decent assortment of gas cans, propane tanks and oxygen tanks that can be strategically placed to blast the horde into a low-earth orbit, should any bits of them survive the initial explosion that is.
It looks like Valve went to great lengths to ensure maximum re-playability, and it shows thanks to the great map design and the AI Director. The maps flow in wonderful ways, leading you to one distinct point, but there are many different routes of getting there depending on how you look at it. Sewers have multiple passages, and secret tunnels provide you with ways to bypass any undead that could be waiting in droves for an ambush. The AI Director works to adjust the difficulty level and replay factor, by randomizing placement of everything from zombies to bosses to weapons. Every play through is genuinely different thanks to the AI Director. For instance, one play through might get you a tank or some pipe bombs at certain points, while the next won’t. This will force you to play different each time, since memorizing parts of the maps won’t help you too much.