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Left 4 Dead 2 Review

Filed under: Left 4 Dead 2 — Tags: , , , — Mike Cieply @ 01:22 January 6, 2010

“The sequel to the best-selling zombie shooter improves on the original in every possible way.”

Format

Xbox 360/PC

Style

First-person shooter; Survival horror

Modes

Single player; 4-player cooperative multiplayer; 4-vs-4 multiplayer

Pros

More campaigns and chapters, increasing the game’s length; Over thirty new weapons and items; New special infected; Graphics are noticeably improved, even while playing split-screen; Survivors are wittier and more amusing than in the original; Melee weapons are enormously fun; New multiplayer modes; Campaigns are more diverse; Campaigns are tied together, establishing plot

Cons

Gameplay is fundamentally the same as the original; Single player is still a bore

Introduction

In 2008 Valve introduced Left 4 Dead to the world. It was hailed as one of the greatest multiplayer games, one of the greatest zombie games, and one of greatest games of the decade. Due to its new and thrilling gameplay, critics and consumers alike were able to look past its glaring faults. Exactly one year later, Valve released Left 4 Dead 2. Its announcement was initially met with calamity from fans of the original, and thousands were outraged. The gaming community was outraged at this rushed sequel, and many viewed it as an expansion. However, everyone’s worries were soon cleared when the game was released. This sequel is precisely everything a sequel should be, and more. It improves on every aspect of the original, quenching everyone’s thirst for a true sequel.

Graphics/Audio

Left 4 Dead 2 steps it up in the presentation field. There is a noticeable update from the original title. The environments, survivors, and infected have all been greatly enhanced, visually. The game now has chapters that are set in nighttime and daytime situations. The inclusion of sunlit levels is an extremely welcome addition to the series, for they provide an interesting new take on scenery and keep the player’s interest high.

Left 4 Dead 2 - Screenshot

One glaring problem with the first game was the severe graphic-quality reduction when playing split-screen. Fans will be pleased to know that even these graphics have been immensely improved, providing a more enjoyable experience for those gamers who take pleasure in sharing a television.

While the scenery in the original did vary, Left 4 Dead 2 provides completely new locations for every single one of its twenty-three chapters. Whether you’re making your way through a swampy village, sprinting atop a carnival’s roller coaster, or fighting through a shopping mall, you will absolutely never get bored playing this game. Every level takes place in a totally new and creative environment, which shows how innovative a developer Valve is.

As previously mentioned, the four survivors have also been refined in nearly every way. Their facial expressions, lip movements, arm gestures, and body language have all become quite noticeably more lifelike. Due to their wardrobe, it is also easier to distinguish them from each other.

Finally, the voice acting and script have been improved tenfold. The voice actors for Left 4 Dead 2 are surprisingly better than the first title. Ellis’ stories are hilariously spoken, and Nick’s reprimands are ingeniously well done. Coach, though he is a clear copy of Punch-Out’s Doc Louis, offers more witty and clever lines, along with Rochelle. The four survivors are more unique, deep, and all have more personalities than the previous four. The increased character depth definitely provides a more enjoyable experience for all.

Story

Left 4 Dead 2 - ScreenshotIf you have played the original Left 4 Dead, you would understand how Valve dealt with the story. Or rather, how they did not deal with it. In the first game, the complete lack of a story and plot was something that immensely bothered myself and many others. Fortunately, this matter has had more attention brought upon itself, and Valve made it their job to add something of a plot to the series.

Although the story won’t win any awards, the inclusion of one is enough. The four survivors now have back stories, and their own histories. Each character is now totally unique and we finally know their backgrounds. Another much-loved addition is the story of the campaigns. In the first Left 4 Dead, all four campaigns were completely separate from each other and started at a different point. In Left 4 Dead 2, however, all five campaigns are brilliantly tied together and flow smoothly from one into the other. This addition, unquestionably, pushes the sequel high above its predecessor.

Similarly to the previous game, the in-game plot involves you and three other survivors battling and hacking your way from Point A to Point B, ending in a safe zone, or being rescued. Again, this has become even more enjoyable due to the intertwined campaigns.

Gameplay

Left 4 Dead 2 - ScreenshotAlthough the gameplay from the original Left 4 Dead was highly praised, Left 4 Dead 2 took everything and made it bigger and better.

Perhaps the most noticeable change is the amount of weapons in the game. The original title simply had six firearms and two “grenades.” In Left 4 Dead 2, the total count reaches above thirty, with five times as many weapons. Similarly to the last game, the firearms are based on a two-tier system. The weaker and less powerful weapons include the pump shotgun and submachine gun from the original title, as well as the chrome shotgun and silenced submachine gun. The pump shotgun is essentially the same as it was in the first Left 4 Dead, as is the submachine gun. The chrome shotgun sprays its ammunition out tighter than the pump shotgun, and each shell deals more damage. The silenced submachine gun deals more damage at close-range than the standard submachine gun, but suffers from low-accuracy and annoyingly high kickback. With each gun’s pros and cons, it is clear that there is a much larger emphasis on preference than there was in the original. This is even more noticeable in the higher level of firearms. The game offers three assault rifles: the combat rifle, AK-47, and the M-16 assault rifle (also known as the assault rifle in the original). All three possess their own qualities and characteristics, such as varying levels of accuracy, three-shot burst, kickback, stopping power, damage, reload time, and amount of ammunition. Additionally, there are two other shotguns: the combat shotgun and the tactical shotgun. The combat shotgun has very low kickback and is very effective against special infected. The tactical shotgun, also known as the auto shotgun from the original, releases more bullets per shot. Also returning is the hunting rifle, which stands beside the new sniper rifle; both of which vary in power and reload time. Yet another firearm added is the grenade launcher. This completely new weapon deals an enormous amount of damage to an infected, and is great for taking out large groups. In addition to these weapons are the pistols, which include a standard handgun and the magnum, which deals out far more damage than the other handgun but cannot be dual-wielded. With the wide selection of firearms, Valve has brought in much more variety and replay value to the game.

There are also two new types of ammunition one can use with their weapons: explosive ammo and incendiary ammo. The explosive ammo will explode anything it touches while the incendiary ammo will ignite the infected that it is shot at. Additionally, throughout the game the survivors can obtain laser-sight upgrades, which greatly improve accuracy on all firearms.

The pipe bomb and Molotov cocktail return from Left 4 Dead, but a new inclusion in the series is the boomer bile, also known as the bile bomb. Throwing this onto an infected of any kind will instantly draw the common infected to them.

Now for one of the greatest improvements to the series: melee weapons. Left 4 Dead 2 introduces the cricket bat, crowbar, frying pan, electric guitar, axe, katana, machete, nightstick, and chainsaw as methods of one-hit kills to all common infected. These melee weapons are extremely powerful, and will never break. Only the chainsaw will eventually be replaced with a pistol, after running out of gas. Melee weapons are unbelievingly fun to use, and one will certainly use them nearly as much as the standard firearms.

As in the previous game, health packs and pills can be used to regain health. While the health packs can be used to regain eighty percent of lost health, one can choose to carry a defibrillator instead. These can revive a fallen survivor who has lost all of their health to the infected. When used, the newly-revived character will have half of their total health, fifty. Pills, which are used to temporarily restore some health to a survivor, are joined by the adrenaline shot. When used, the player runs faster, can heal and revive faster, move quickly through water, reloads faster, and gains health temporarily. Again, Valve has given us many more ways to enjoy Left 4 Dead 2.

Lastly, Valve has added three brand new special infected to the series, while revising the previous five. The Boomer, Tank, Smoker, and Hunter have all had their appearances modified and look more gruesome, while the Witch is the only one with any major changes. While the witch acts the same at night, during the daytime she is completely different. It is during this time when she is known as the “Wandering Witch,” due to her traveling slowly across the chapter. Due to the fact that she is standing, it is much harder to tell her apart from a common infected, but is easier to sneak past and kill. In addition to these five are the Jockey, Spitter, and Charger. The Jockey is a short, humped infected that will jump onto a survivor’s back and lead them into dangerous situations such as a Spitter’s acid, a bunch of common infected, or a Witch. The Spitter will shoot balls of stomach acid out of her large mouth which will expand into a large pool upon hitting the ground. She will also leave behind a smaller pool of acid after being killed. This acid is extremely dangerous and can kill a survivor quite quickly. Lastly, the Charger is a new special infected that closely resembles the Tank. With one massive arm, it can throw, charge, bash, beat, punch, and grab survivors. This makes it a huge threat, and should be taken out quickly with top priority.

Replayability

Left 4 Dead 2 has a total of twenty-three chapters that spread across five unique campaigns, as opposed to the previous game’s twenty chapters. The campaigns Dead Center, Dark Carnival, Swamp Fever, Hard Rain, and The Parish are all somewhat longer and more difficult than all the campaigns in the first game. Depending on the difficulty, completing all five campaigns can take six to eight hours, which is roughly two hours more than the original title. While this is still fairly short, the game makes up for it with the online multiplayer.

Left 4 Dead 2 - CoverThe campaign can be played online with three other players, and Versus and Survival return with the new Scavenge mode. Survival remains essentially the same as it was in the last game, while Versus allows one to take control of the three new special infected (in addition to the old four). This has been made even more thrilling and fun than its previous incarnation, and will certainly be one of the most played modes. The completely new Scavenge mode is a nod towards the finale in the game’s first campaign, Dead Center, where four players must collect sixteen cans of gasoline and fill a generator or car with them, all while avoid the four player-controlled infected. Whichever team wins the most rounds becomes the final, true victor. In addition to these is the Realism mode, which is extremely challenging. Weapons do much less damage, Witches kill in one hit, the blue outline surrounding the other survivors is gone, and it is harder to spot firearms. As in the last game, the online is one of the main focuses of Left 4 Dead 2, and everyone should at one point try it out, for it will provide a satisfying experience to all.

Final Recommendation

Left 4 Dead 2 is simply one of the greatest games of the decade. It improves on every single detail of the original, and everyone who loved the first will love this one even more. The effects of the boycott are evident, as this game has received four times as many pre-orders than the original, and has sold nearly as much as the original did over a year in only two months. And with promised downloadable content, it appears as if Left 4 Dead 2 will become better and better. Though a relatively new series, its fresh take on the zombie apocalypse and exciting gameplay will be adored by gamers for many years to come.

Ratings

Graphics – 9/10

Audio – 10/10

Story – 8/10

Gameplay – 10/10

Replayability – 10/10

Final Score – 9.4/10

System Requirements

Supported OS:

Microsoft Windows XP / Vista / Vista64

Processor:

Pentium 4 3.0GHz, Dual Core 2.0, or AMD64X2 (or higher)


Memory:

1GB for XP / 2GB for Vista

Disc Drive:

DVD-ROM Drive

Graphics:

128 MB, Shader model 2.0, ATI X800, NVidia 6600 or better

Hard Drive:

At least 7.5 GB of free space

Sound Card:

DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

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Rating: 9.7/10 (7 votes cast)
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Left 4 Dead 2 Review , 9.7 out of 10 based on 7 ratings

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