I finally got chance to play Left 4 Dead co-op with my wife rather than single player with all AI teammates, and it’s an entirely different experience. I’d heard this of course, but even so I found it surprising just how much difference it makes. Having a real person yelling for help as they get jumped by a hunter after hanging back behind the others, running scared from a marauding tank together, or frantically trying to help a team-mate up so you can get back up into a defensive choke point before the wall of dead flesh that’s charging down the abandoned subway track crashes over you, it’s simply enormous fun. We played through the demo an extra 2 times, cranking up the difficulty the second time, and really enjoyed it.
It certainly assuaged my concerns about replayability and how well the co-op mechanic would work - in short, bloody brilliantly. I was a little concerned that the setting might freak my wife out too much, since she’s not a big fan of ‘jumpy’ games and has previously passed on survival horror games on that basis. However, she said it’s different when playing co-op with a real person, so it was fine - although at one point she was left alone on the harder setting because I was kicked to death (they kick you when you’re down, the swines - don’t they teach Queensbury rules in zombie school?), and she said that was more unnerving. In fact, even when we lost an AI character it was pretty unnerving, since we know we have less chance of survival as our numbers dwindle.
The fact that Amazon were doing a pre-order special deal on PC for £17 sealed the deal, so we have 2 copies with our names on them now. We’re not the Counter Strike type players who make complex team strategies of the like I’ve been seeing cropping up on some forums, but I’m sure we’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of this. It’s just fun to share that co-op experience - still my preferred multiplayer mode, especially with people you know. Of course, explaining to ‘normal’ people that you and your spouse’s quality time together sometimes involves attempting to survive metropolitan zombie infestation might raise a few eyebrows, but hey, this is the modern world 😀