The Left 4 Dead demo is out for pre-orderererers, and it just sort of… stops.
The four campaigns are usually four missions long each, and the demo only gives you the first two sections of one of them. It’s like releasing the first half of a song as a single to promote your forthcoming album. You can tell from the first half of this campaign that it’s going to be a good campaign, but the first half isn’t one by itself.
I am baffled and saddened by this. To me the point of Left 4 Dead is that “just made it!” moment, the way the Director expertly builds difficulty, tension and drama over the four levels to an incredible climax. Even when you die, that finalÃ© is the highlight of the game. I can’t think why, after spending more than two years years perfecting an extraordinary new system that masters the eternal design problems of pacing and balance, you’d release a demo that does neither well.
This demo is only for people who’ve already committed to buying the game at the moment, but it’s the same one going live to the public next Tuesday, and it’s the one from which the first player impressions will be posted on forums. Playing it earlier tonight was the first time in my five sessions with Left 4 Dead that we’ve survived easily, and the first time the answer to “Do you want to play again?” has been “Not really.”
It’ll do till the full thing comes along, of course, and it’s still great fun. Just don’t assume from the demo that the full game lacks drama, variety or a satisfying climax.