There were a lot of things I was expecting when the wonderful PR rep from Ubisoft walked me over to the Far Cry 3 co-op stations. Jungles, pirates and gun play were all present, but so was a decidedly familiar influence. Swap out pirates for zombies, and I’d swear I was playing a new Left 4 Dead title. For me, this isn’t a bad thing, even if it is derivative.

The title pulls together some hallmarks of the shooter genre. You’ve got different loadouts that will slot players into different team roles. It’s the Battle Cries that will help keep things fresh. Think of these like active perks or skills that can be triggered to help your team in a jam. The one we had available increased the team’s health regeneration rate, but it’s easy to see how these might be used to enhance fire rate, damage output, accuracy and more.

Upon starting with the four characters of both genders and a variety of ethnicities, you’ll make your way from Point A to Point B, killing pirates and accomplishing a variety of tasks. The first objective was to repair a disabled train to clear a tunnel we needed to walk through. This felt like a familiar set piece moment from the Left 4 Dead series, with pirates swarming our position instead of the undead.

Once we had accomplished that, we trudged ahead, annihilating all of the fools that wanted us captured or dead. We made our way to an overlook where a challenge was triggered and sniper rifle put in each player’s hands. In a moment of competitive glory, we were told that the scurvy scoundrels below us were our targets with the person taking out the most coming away the winner. It’s not clear how success will be rewarded yet, but given the different loadouts, it’s not unreasonable to assume a progression system (which means XP bonuses could be a reasonable perk for firing true).

After we dropped our long-range gear, we made our way to a bridge that we needed to destroy to cover our escape. Of course, no one just stores explosives there, so we needed to gather them. After all three crates had been delivered, the final task of locating the detonator and sending the structure into the abyss was a simple task.

This is an interesting take on a multiplayer mode, and in the absence of a new Left 4 Dead, it’s nice to see those mechanics make a comeback. It’s not a perfect analogue. Instead of safe rooms, there are arbitrary checkpoints along the way. Health regenerates instead of requiring first aid kits. Still, even with the differences, it was an enjoyable experience that will enrich a single player campaign that promises to be as insane as Ubisoft is promising.

Far Cry 3 arrives on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 on September 4, 2012.