Crispy Gamer

The Five: Left 4 Dead

The Skinny: Valve's latest team-based first-person shooter drops you in a fast-paced zombie blast-'em-up where you and your comrades must truly work together to survive.

1. The main one- to four-player cooperative campaign mode pits you and three Average Joe survivors against the infected inhabitants of Small Town, USA. It's an extremely unique team-based affair in which you'll need to work together to get from point A to point B. If you run and gun and think you have skills, you'll be slaughtered almost immediately. Communication, healing your fallen teammates, and staying close to each other are the keys to survival.

2. Left 4 Dead's four different scenarios are different every time you play through them, and the Artificial Intelligence Director adjusts the difficulty as you play. If you and your teammates are getting your asses handed to you, you'll see fewer enemies. Play extremely well, and it's going to get more and more difficult.

3. Zombies are lethal in packs, but Left 4 Dead features some truly nasty bosses including leaping hunters, acid-barfing boomers, blinding smokers, and weapon-draining tanks and witches. Even though you'll sometimes get warnings when they're coming, they will always keep you on your toes.

4. Each scenario is paced extremely well, with eerie and very intense battles broken up into checkpoints where you'll be able to catch your breath, heal up, and get ready for the next frenzied section. Trust us, you'll look forward to these moments of relaxation.

5. Griefers will finally have a place to call their home in versus mode where two players will be able to control the infected side and take the role of one of the bosses (except for the witches). You'll see the paths where the survivors will come so you can plan your attack. This gets even more fun when you can actually trash-talk to the survivors over voice chat, and taunt them as you take them down.

The Big Question: Do we want to play it on the Xbox 360 or PC? Our play-through had us jumping in fear, screaming for healing, and cheering as we got to the next safe zone. There were a lot of shooters with team-based elements shown at this year's E3, however, Valve has created something that feels truly fresh. We can't wait to get our hands on this one.

This preview is based on a hands-on demo of the game at E3.