When Left 4 Dead 2 was announced about six months after the first game came out, a lot of people were shocked for a few reasons. It's Valve and Valve is notorious for taking their sweet time releasing quality games, was one reason. And then there was the more important question. Was this a cash grab? Is it merely an expansion pack masquerading as a fully priced game? And now it's released and the answer to the above questions is evident: Left 4 Dead 2 had me at "improved pipe bomb."
But you're not here to listen to me go on about how cool the pipe bomb is and how awesome the changed effects of zombie bodies literally exploding through the air is. At least I hope not. The fact is, after playing through Left 4 Dead 2, the original game feels more like a blueprint. Everything that was in L4D is in the sequel, but the sequel is a completely different beast. I was surprised, when we played through the opening campaign "Dead Centre" just how varied and improved the game was. You begin at the top of a hotel, bringing to mind the small apartment complex that began the first game. Except that this time, there's a whole lot more. You see, the building is on fire, you can create backdrafts through doors, and the entire event feels more context driven than...well, than the entire first game.
Fire will cause impromptu passages, forcing you to discover different ways through the crumbling building. This means sometimes climbing out a window and balancing precariously on a ledge, moving from window to window in your escape. The intensity is further exasperated by the introduction of the special infected. Imagine playing this in Versus as a Jockey, hopping onto one of the survivors and moving them off the edges or being a Spitter and spitting the goo at just the right moment. Moving through the hotel, the fire increases and eventually, smoke will cloud your vision, creating an extremely claustrophic even where zombies charge out of the dense, dark smoke or other zombies, wearing hazmat suits, will simply rush, unharmed, through the flames at you. This diversity continues as you race through the chapters. In the first campaign alone, you will race through a burning hotel, tear through a grocery store in search for cola to bring back to a crazed, holed up hermit so he'll destroy a barricade and eventually reach the climax where you have to locate gas cans (like in the new mode) to gas up a car to escape.
The thing is, that's only the tip of the iceberg. Later campaigns like "Dark Carnival" add a bit of whimsy as you can play some of the carnival games (kudos to Valve for bringing back the Half Life 2 gnome for an achievement), race up and down a roller coaster as zombies chase endless after you, and eventually reach the end which culminates in an inspired ending scenario that's completely different (and a tad whimsical) than anything else in the game. This diversity only continues through the later campaigns as well, with "Hard Rain" being my absolute favorite. In "Hard Rain," as you move through the maps, it starts raining harder and harder. It's by far the most atmospheric and most interesting, since you eventually have to backtrack through the zones, but this time they are flooded and the weather adds a completely different challenge to the map. Additionally, unlike the first game where the campaigns all felt a bit too similar, resulting in my group relying on a couple campaigns we liked the most, each campaign offers so many differences, that I find myself wanting to replay them over and over. With five fully-developed campaigns, there's a lot more content than in the original game. Also, if you're feeling especially masochistic, try turning on the Realism mode which gets rid of the glowy outlines around survivors and ammo, makes infected harder to kill (headshots, please) and gets rid of the spawning closets...
And that doesn't take into account the other features. Of course, there's Versus and Survival Modes like in the original game, but L4D2 also throws in Scavenge. Scavenge essentially is L4D2's version of a capture the flag mode, with the myriad of gas cans being flags. The survivors race around the map, fighting both the infected and the clock, trying to get as many gas cans to start a generator as possible. Meanwhile, the infected obviously try to stop them. What I love about Scavenge is that it's not the time commitment that Versus is. It's a quick best of three or five game that ratchets up the tension and can create some truly inspired situations. My only complaint about this mode is that there's only one per campaign right now. Ditto the Survival mode which doesn't seem to have as many maps as in the original Left 4 Dead. Hopefully Valve rectifies this with DLC.
After you get past the myriad of modes and campaigns, there's still more tiny additions that made me smile. Guns are now strewn across the level and you won't find conveniently placed groups of weapons that contain everything. The guns also have a lot more variety, with a few different options for each type of weapon (I really enjoy the combat shotgun). The newly introduced melee weapons are interesting. In lower difficulties, they are seemingly overpowered; however, as you start to play on expert, I've found their limitations to be too great. Still, a nice additional and some of them are fantastic: taking down a witch with a chainsaw is perfection. The two grenade types return as does vials of Boomer bile. This operates under the same concept as the pipe bomb, except that the undead will race to the impact point and try to destroy whatever's there...like a Tank. Not that they will destroy a Tank, but they do provide some assistance. Then there's the other miscellaneous items, like defibrillators that will bring back dead party members.
And I haven't even talked about the characters and story. I do miss the original gang of archetypical characters; I miss Frank's acerbic comments ("I hate vans...") and the camaraderie they had. But the new gang is also better developed and their banter is fresh and entertaining as they move through the campaigns, which, by the way, feel a lot more connected and there's more story here. So here's the thing. Those who didn't care for Left 4 Dead will probably not be swayed by L4D2 because it offers more of what the first one did. It's not a radically different game, it just feels...more complete. When I blasted through the first game, I wanted more...I felt like I played through a blueprint of a fantastic game. L4D2 delivers on that promise. It's not an expansion, it's a great, new, longer and better game.
Very much recommended for fans of the original.
on November 17, 2009
This game is very violent, very bloody and gory. But it's a game where you're killing zombies, what do you expect?
That being said, what a game, what a game. It's all I can say about this. To sum this up, this is an over the top, intense, first person zombie shooter that's everything that the first left 4 dead should have been.
First, the setting, stories, characters, etc.
So this time around you're playing in a southern area, around Louisiana, Mississippi, etc. which brings with it, it's own character. There's a famous southern rock band, the midnight riders, for instance and in one level, the ending fight scene takes place at a concert of there's where you can battle against zombies amidst the fireworks and light show that the stage provides. There's also a famous race car driver, and one level you're busy gassing up his stock car (at a car show) so you can drive it and get the heck out of there. But no, you sadly wont be doing any driving. It's a great ending to see the car bash through a bunch of zombies however.
You get the idea..
This time around, you're not playing 4 separate sort of "movies". The chapters are, at least somewhat, connected. Like when you drive out from the ending of one chapter, the next chapter, the car has broken down, and now you're on foot.
The characters, wow, what a change. Part of me misses the old l4d characters, like bill, and zoe.. but these new ones are so full of great humor and character it's quite a tossup.
There's Nick, who doesn't really "belong" in the south. He's very more of a serious, almost like a business man from the north. However, he's actually just a gambler and a conman, oh wait, what's the difference? I'm kidding! But seriously, he's always making jokes about the "south".
There's Rochelle, who's a news reporter, she's kind of an in between character, not too funny, not too serious imo.
Then there's Ellis and Coach. Ellis is a mechanic, and coach is well, a coach. They're always full of jokes and wisecracks and can really bring a laugh, or at least a chuckle around every now and then.
Ok so enough about that, lets get down to the nitty gritty.
This game is extremely over the top and I mean that, whole heartily. But it fits well here and provides a new layer to the l4d world. For instance, there's new melee weapons, there's normal things like you would expect. Like an axe, a sword, a baseball bat, a chainsaw... But there's also others like a guitar, or a..... frying pan and I must say, there's something oddly funny about smashing a zombie over the head with a frying pan and hearing that comical clang afterwards. With all the melee weapons, they're basically 1 hit kills to the normal zombies and will usually involve some sort of dismemberment. Even if you're using a guitar, if you hit a zombie at the head, it's gonna fly. However, you have to be careful as it's extremely easy to damage friends nearby with these.
Speaking about that, you can take a whole new world of hurt to the zombies. There's a new system in place that allows you to... well, lets put it this way.. if you shoot a zombie in the back, part of his back goes missing. You can blow off a part of the zombies head, if you slice with an axe or sword you can leave some nasty gashes in the torso. You can literally blow a zombie to bits, like with the grenade launcher and pipebomb. Sometimes after the explosion if you take the time to look you'll see bits of arms, legs, some intestines, whatever. It's pretty violent, pretty brutal, pretty fun. If this was happening in another game, and you weren't killing zombies... There'd probably be a ton of people freaking out. It'd be like an extremely violent game, even more so than the soldier of fortune games... But since you're killing zombies, it's actually quite fun.
Also, to quote game informer, "At one point an explosion propelled a zombie over m head with its intestines trailing behind it like a party streamer." oh and if you attack zombies with melee weapons blood splashes up on your screen, it's a neat effect and doesn't really get in the way.
The melee weapons takes place of your secondary weapon, so you can still keep your primary firearm, whatever it may be. There's plenty of new ones this time around as well.
The guns this time around are much more real. It seems as though they took their time modeling and animating these guns to their real life counterparts. There's an ak47, something that resembles a scar, you've got a much more modernized semi-automatic rifle equipped with sights for some nice sniping action, there's m16's, there's shotguns, uzi's, tmp's, grenade launchers, etc. Whatever you pick, you're probably going to like it. It just FEELS right, it feels like a gun in the game, not a toy.
There's also "laser sights" you can pick up that increase accuracy (I don't know why it would, but oh well), there's also new rounds you can put into your favorite firearm. You can use incendiary rounds, explosive rounds and they're a blast. Literally. There's a limited amount, so when you get them you only have like 40 or so in your primary weapon.
There's the new uncommon common zombies. Like the zombies in hazmat suits, or zombies in riot gear that are bulletproof unless you shoot them from the back. They add a little more fun and break up the monotony. There's also, this time around, 6 special infected (Not including the witch).
There's the spitter (One of my favorites) that spits out a pile of acidic goo that does quite a bit of damage. There's the charger that runs into the survivors and will grab one of them and keep slamming him/her into the ground until he, or the survivor dies. There's also revamped versions of the special infected from the first l4d. There's the boomer, smoker, hunter and tank. All of the special infected have a new look that fits this game very well and I definitely prefer it to the original (Except the hunter and tank they basically look the same). The sounds the special infected make are also much improved. The boomer for instance sounds much more gross and nasty and it's GREAT!
The campaign is much better this time around, the levels are much more detailed and fun although they're much more open and they aren't as linear. There's been a few times on the first play through where I was scratching my head trying to figure out where to go mainly because I ran past where I was supposed to go when I was busy killing zombies and ended up slightly lost.
But it's such a vast improvement, the environments are much more fun as well. One level where you play in a fair type setting, there's a roller-coaster that you send and it runs into zombies on the track, and I believe it was Ellis who says "These zombies don't respect lines" or something of the sort.
But there's still a lot carried over from l4d, you still have the same matchmaking service, it still looks like l4d, it's slightly improved especially with a lot of the effects, like fire, explosions, etc. but it's not going to blow you away.
However, there's new modes. There's the normal campaign and versus but...
There's the realism setting, which removes any glows and I haven't seen a real difficulty increase, even on expert. It just seems more visual, but I could be wrong. I haven't played it much.
There's the survival setting which basically pits you against wave after wave of zombies.
There's the scavenge mode that has you do something like hunting for fuel to keep something filled while fighting off a ton of zombies. It can get quite intense or frustrating haha.
All that said, I have had a few problems with this game, it's crashed a few times. Although, it's odd. Usually when a game or anything crashes, you'd get a popup, some sort of an error, at least it might help you in figuring out what happened, whats wrong. But I never get anything, the game just closes and that's it. It's happened in single and multiplayer so I'm not sure what's going on and it's also happened to other people so I know it's not just me.
There's also, of course, people. People you play with on multiplayer, it doesn't matter who or what. There's always going to be something, of course this isn't the games fault. But it's something to be aware of, quite a bit of people I play with, whether it's pubs or pugs, they're pretty decent. But there's always that one game, with that "one" person that just completely ruins everything. Like for instance, this guy "MorganFreeman911" would blame EVERYTHING on me, even when it was HIS fault. Like if I was shooting at a bunch of zombies and he'd run into straight into it, it was my fault. If he ran into a witch and got killed, it was my fault. You get the picture. It's people like that, that can really ruin a fun experience. If you're playing with someone like that, it's usually best to just leave, find a different game, and be on your merry way.
But all in all it's a very fun game and HOPEFULLY they'll release some DLC later on that'll add to the longevity of this game, because I do like this.
As time goes on, I'll update this review if needed. I hope it was helpful!
on March 22, 2012
Most of the gaming I do is single player and I got this with that in mind. In fact, of the six games I bought, I left this one for last because I thought it might not be a very good game for single player, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's a nicely done, run and gun linear shooter with some very well designed environments that help to keep it interesting. It has a few environmental puzzles (such as having to collect cans of gas to fill a generator), but not so many as to be annoying. I don't consider linearity or lack of role playing elements to be a negative for most games.
The point of the game is to get from safe house to safe house through zombie infested environments. If you die, you need to restart from the safe house which is also a resupply point. You play with four other characters, played by bots in the single player mode, who can revive you if you are down or heal you if you are low on health. You can revive and heal them as well. The bot AI is not bad. You will spot a couple of annoying quirks, but nothing that ruins the enjoyment (and they will often rescue you even against pretty steep odds).
This version includes additional campaigns, so it's a relatively long game by today's standards and I consider the variety of settings to be a strong plus. Weapons are typical (pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, etc), but there are a number of melee weapons (including a guitar). There are also several types of grenades (pipe bombs, Molotovs, and bile bombs) with clever and useful characteristics. You can carry one or two pistols (endless ammo for these) and one larger weapon, plus one grenade. THere are occasional ammo resupply points as well as health kits, pills, and "adrenaline shots" to keep you alive. There are also a occasional special weapons: grenade launchers, belt fed machine guns, and stationary guns that you can man.
Bad guys consist mainly of basic run-of-the-mill zombies which attack in stampeding waves, but there are a few specials which are a bit more powerful and can strike from further away. The king of the bad guys is the "tank" which smacks you around and is hard to kill.
This game doesn't really have saves. You always begin in one of the safe houses and they are apparently all unlocked from the very start. While I played the game through in sequence, you wouldn't need to do it that way.
There are four difficulty levels. I played the single player mode on the "advanced" difficulty which is the second hardest. I was able to get to most safe houses on the first or second try, but there were a few tough parts that I had to play repeatedly for a couple days before I got through them. The toughest one for me was the Plantation. If you pick a difficulty level where you don't get killed at all, the game will obviously seem shorter than my experience.
If you are into mindless post apocalyptic zombie action, moody settings, and frantic action, this is a great game. I also liked Killing Floor, in both single and multiplayer modes. I only played L4D2 on line once and it was fun, so I am sure I will be playing it on line again (at least for the achievements).
I didn't have any technical problems and it ran smoothly on my system which is not high end by today's standards. I have a 3MHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB memory, and dual Nvidia GTS8800 512 video cards (SLI linked).