This year will mark 15 years since Left 4 Dead, one of the main franchises of Valve and Turtle Rock Studios, was launched, but the reason why it is in the news today is because a prototype has appeared on the net which shows what the game was like during the earliest phases of its development. Also, it’s playable and everything.
Called Zombie City, it’s a Counter-Strike: Source mod and no zombies appear in it at any time. Instead, the enemies to be eliminated are terrorists controlled by artificial intelligence that run en masse against the players to attack them hand-to-hand. So you can see it better in the following video by WolfCl0ck, the person in charge of this mod in question.
The fact that it reaffirms that it is a very early version of Left 4 Dead it is because michael boothfounder of Turtle Rock Studios, is the one who has explained what led them to design all this:
While developing bots for Counter-Strike: Source we found that pitting a few of us armed to the teeth with automatic weapons against 30 knife-wielding enemy bots was fun. After we released Counter-Strike: Source in late 2004, we started experimenting with new game prototypes. That “small group of friends against hordes of scratching enemies” foundation was something we wanted to do and we soon realized that “co-op play against hordes of enemies” had a lot of potential.
Naturally not all Left 4 Dead mechanics are present in this prototype, such as the special enemies or the different iconic protagonists, but at least it serves as an example to see for the first time what the idea of what Turtle Rock Studios had in hand was like.
So, if you want to give it a try, you will find it available to download for free from the GameBanana page. A good way to take a look at the beginnings of the studio with this saga that later received a sequel, Left 4 Dead 2, and more recently they have been working on the development of games like Back 4 Blood with a very similar proposal.