The inevitable sequel to the smash hit from Valve software. You don’t go making a hugely popular zombie themed FPS and fail to make a second one! Lots of additions make this more than the DLC that the skeptics had predicted that it would feel like.
The original Left 4 Dead won many accolades and garnered a ton of praise from gamers and non gamers alike. It drew in people from the gaming community because of the rock solid and well balanced play mechanics, but it also attracted virtually anyone who is a fan of zombie films, as the game is just that – a zombie film that you play. This sequel does not fail at delivering the same experience of killing zombies that is always fun.
A personal touch
I need to start this review by advising the general public of my thoughts on zombies and zombie related media. I understand that the living dead and whatnot are the “flavor of the week” and have been for the last few years. I have always had a special place in my heart for zombie films as I discovered the Romero films when I was quite young. There were also some very disturbed Italian films about the living dead that I have enjoyed, but nothing gripped me the way 28 Weeks Later did when it was released.
It had been a long time since I had been afraid of a fictitious situation like that, but the zombies in that film were horrifying because of the plausibility of the plot. These were not reanimated corpses, they were people infected with a terrible rabies-like virus that turned them into pure rage filled monsters. They didn’t mill about in the streets, moaning and coming after you in a shambling horde. No, these poor infected wretches RAN after you. I can imagine having fun in a Romero-esque zombie apocalypse. You can just walk around the Romero zombies and they can’t do a damn thing about it. It astounds me that people die in those films. If you are dumb enough to get caught by a Romero zombie then you deserve to get your face bitten off. The masses of infected in 28 Weeks Later will stop at nothing to make sure that you are good and dead or infected like them. My love for that film was a guarantee that I would completely enjoy Left 4 Dead, as I had discovered that it basically uses the same plot device, a massive outbreak of an infection, to create the apocalyptic world in which the game takes place.
The story so far
Left 4 Dead 2 picks up one week after the events of the first game. In this situation an outbreak of an infectious disease that turns people completely insane has infected the USA, and perhaps the whole world. In the first game you play as one of 4 survivors who happen to be immune to the virus, and the case is the same in the sequel. The first game took place in Pennsylvania, but the second game takes place in the southern states, starting in Georgia and ending in New Orleans. Your characters have no idea what the infection is and you are given very little information regarding it, which adds to the realism of being a normal person caught in the middle of this plague that is devastating the country.
People are people
Let’s look at the survivors. First we have Coach, a burly bald man who looks like he could totally hold his own in a fight. There’s Ellis, the young redneck mechanic who won’t shut up. Rochelle is a young woman who worked at a TV station and apparently likes Depeche Mode. Nick is the cool and suave con man. The characters are just there for aesthetics really, as all of them have the same play mechanics and capabilities. The voice acting and banter is enjoyable, but for the most part you will be speaking with people online as cooperation is what makes this game so successful. I was happy to hear that Nick is voiced by Hugh Dillon, the front man from the band The Headstones. To be honest, I have to admit that I like the characters from the first game more, but it really doesn’t take away from the enjoyment.
There are many more firearms available to the player now. You have the standard pistols, machine guns, and shotguns, but you also now have many variations of each. You can also equip them with laser sights or special ammo, like incendiary or explosive rounds, which makes your murderous options much more broad. Valve thought to include melee weaponry in the sequel and it ramps up the fun factor quite a bit. There really is nothing like taking a fire axe or a frying pan to the forehead of a zombie. Melee weapons really give you a “hands on” feeling and the violence depicted onscreen while wielding them is just great.
Who dat zombie?
Along with the regular infected population there are also special or “boss” infected. These are humans that have been mutated to a degree by the plague. The first game had the Smoker, the Tank, the Boomer, the Hunter, and the Witch. Now there are additional foes to watch out for in the Charger, the Jockey, and the Spitter. These will always send your game for a loop. Just when you think you’ve got an angry horde under control along comes a boss infected to ruin your day. There are also more zombies in each campaign now, and the game seems more challenging over all. The inclusion of “uncommon common” infected changes things up a bit too. For instance, you will encounter a bunch of zombies in police riot gear, so to kill them you have to hit them from behind where the armor is weak.
There is a single player mode included with the game, and it is quite fun, although with some drawbacks. The computer will control your AI teammates but not to the extent of a human player. For instance, you can’t formulate plan or give orders to the AI players. They will also decline to pick up any of the grenade items which makes you the only one delivering the hurt in that department. If you have a few minutes to kill (a pun!) then the single player mode can give you a quick fix of zombie killing action, but it is certainly not a deep experience.
Meat and potatoes
The game was designed to be a multi player experience and it is in that mode that the product really excels. There are few games that really get you into the cooperative spirit, but this game relies on keeping each other alive. You can’t go off guns blazing and leave your teammates or you will surely die. It is because of the way that you rely on other players that can make or break your enjoyment of L4D2. It reminds me of the old days of playing cooperative terrorist hunt in Rogue Spear.
L4D2 is only as good or as fun as the people that you are playing it with, so if you get a bad batch of players (the ego maniac, the screamer, the mute to name a few classics) then the game because tedious. When you have a group of pals playing though, the game can be one of the best multi player experiences that you have ever had. There is a standard campaign mode where you play through the levels systematically, there is a versus mode which allows you to fight human controlled special infected, and there is a survival mode that pits you against waves of infected in a fight to the death while you defend an area.
L4D2 is graphically superior to its predecessor. The textures are richer and the environments are more detailed. There is also more detail put in the wounds that appear on the zombies. Now you can shoot someone in the midsection and see the entrails and guts blown all over. The explosions also offer a more realistic look and the dismemberment is nice and not overdone.
L4D2 is fun. If you are like me and you love zombie films then this game will entertain you for weeks. It is quite fast paced and always keeps you on your toes. It is not for kids though. There is plenty of violence and adult language so make sure that you play it when the kiddies are in bed or at school. A lot has been added to make this experience feel larger than the first game, and the balancing of the game is still solid as hell. They just need to increase the AI to a point where they will actually throw a Molotov once in a while.
Reviewed by VonAwesome | 12.04.09
- tons of zombies to kill
- it’s a zombie apocalypse!
- great gore in the graphics
- makes you cooperate
- fast paced and exciting
- melee weapons
- bigger and better
- might get a little repetitive for some
- if you don’t like zombies you won’t be a fan
- fun depends on other people online sometimes
- the single player feels sort of shallow
Similar Games: Resident Evil 6 (7.7) | Dead Rising 2 (8.5) | Dead Rising (9.0) | Left 4 Dead (9.3)