104 of 116 people found the following review helpful
Glorified Expansion or Not, We're STILL Gonna Need More Zombies!,
This review is from: Left 4 Dead 2 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
The original Left 4 Dead was a milestone in console gaming as it combined two legendary genres (survival horror and first-person shooters) and contained a great split-screen co-op whether online or offline. I gave great praise to the first Left 4 Dead a year ago, and yet, desired a lot more than what was presented. When I heard that the production company Valve was releasing an entirely new sequel barely one year after the release of the first game, I was very, VERY skeptical the developers would pull off a good game. In fact, there was a massive online boycott being organized almost immediately following Valve's announcement of a sequel due to a lack of downloadable content, quick release. Many speculated that Left 4 Dead 2 would be nothing more than a glorified expansion.
Despite all the controversy, however, I through all caution (not to mention the money for a full-priced game) to the wind and purchased the game on it's midnight release. Having played Left 4 Dead 2 for a few hours, I can safely say that the sequel has lived up to the hype despite prior skepticism and controversy.
Left 4 Dead 2 closely follows the basic gaming principles of its predecessor, a gratuitous first-person shooter against the backdrop of a global zombie pandemic. The player follows four new survivors (although possessing similar personality quirks) across several campaigns with an almost endless supply of ammo, almost as many zombies including special mutated ones, and no shooter's shoulder to worry about. Towards the end of the campaign the survivors must defend a position to await rescue whilst going up against seemingly impossible odds. Like the original, Left 4 Dead 2 focuses on teamwork survival rather than the typical one-man-army. It is virtually impossible for one gamer to survive the campaigns without assistance from either ally AI or from another player and no, this is not a dare to try. Weapons are hyper-accurate similar to doom as you simply have to point the weapon in the general direction of your target in order to hit them, thus making the Left 4 Dead franchise the ultimate zombie shooter. I definitely agree with the Left 4 Dead 2 television commercial that, even with 10 million zombies, there just isn't enough to go around as a player can kill more zombies than Electronic Arts has killed more Nazis in the Medal of Honor franchise.
(BTW: to any worried parents or concerned citizens that are hesitant or disgusted by the intense violence of Left 4 Dead, lemme just say this. It's a gratuitous shooter, it's supposed to be this violent. Don't be surprised if you see head chopped off or limbs fly around as that is a common sight in the game. You've been forewarned so either watch what your kids play or don't play it. Step aside and let us gamers deal with the zombie apocalypse.)
Left 4 Dead 2 also contains the same online multiplayer experience with survivors versus special infected (oh the fun of peeking around the corner as a boomer and unloading your stomach contents on the survivors all the hoard to survey), online campaign co-op, and survival mode similar to firefight mode in Halo 3: ODST albeit with considerably more difficulty. It's a good thing Valve did not try to tweak these features too much since that can easily ruin a good feature that everyone liked to begin with.
However, like any other sequel, Left 4 Dead 2 sports several improvements over the original game that are certainly worth noting.
1: Left 4 Dead 2 possesses a defined story arc with character development.
The original game had a very, VERY basic story with little character development. The most extensive story development in the original game was contained in the instruction manual and not the game itself. The story involving the campaigns seemed almost mutually exclusive from each other and lacked any real focus. While a lacking story beyond survive and kill did not hinder Left 4 Dead from being an absolutely awesome game, it could have made the game a whole lot better. Left 4 Dead 2 differs from this as it gives a defined story involving how the survivors found each other, their backgrounds are more defined through dialog, but their interactions with each other is just as hilarious as the first such as the survivor's discussion of NASCAR. Also, the campaigns are linked through a common thread rather than being mutually exclusive.
2: More diverse firearms selections.
One of my original criticisms of Left 4 Dead was the lack of weapons selections. You had two full-automatic choices, two shotguns, one pistol, two types of grenades, and one rifle. That was it. Left 4 Dead sports the exact same weapons as well as several new automatic weapons, more shotguns, more pistols, and most importantly...
3: Melee Weapons!!
Let's face it, we've all wanted to take either a fire axe or a katana to a zombie. Now you can! The player can also choose between such melee weapons as a guitar (which makes a loud metal sound similar to the one in Dead Rising), a cricket stick, Gordon Freeman's signature crowbar, frying pans, and everyone's favorite: the chainsaw. This was one of the most redeeming qualities of Left 4 Dead 2 as cutting through zombie hordes with a chainsaw has been a dream of many gamers since we witnessed that burlap-sack-chainsaw-welding maniac on Resident Evil 4 decapitate Leon S. Kennedy over and over.
4: Realism Mode.
Left 4 Dead, being a gratuitous shooter, does lack a more relatively realistic approach that other survival horror games offer. As such, Valve included a realism mode that A) prevents the player from seeing the other player's silhouettes when not in direct sight, B) dead survivors can only be revived by a defibrillator (another new item), C) damage dealt to zombies is based on where it hits rather than one hit equals the same damage whether the zombie is hit in the arm or in the dead, and D) dead survivors cannot be respawned via redemption closets. This makes the game considerably more difficult even for more seasoned veterans of the game.
There are a few more subtle changes such as increased difficulty. There are more zombies, some take more hits, and a survivor can only utilize a few melee attacks before becoming exhausted. My brother and I, who are very big fans of the original game, used to practice playing split-screen co-op on hard but experienced noticeable difficulty on Left 4 Dead 2's easy mode. Perhaps it was a fluke but we certainly were not out of practice. This is an improvement in a way since it makes the player think more before charging into a room or open space. Other improvements include smoother game textures (the weapons, in particular, are more detailed and refined), less loading time (the original took two minutes to load the menu screen), and more challenging special zombies such as the charger and certain zombies in riot gear making them more resistant to bullets.
I'll admit, Left 4 Dead 2 does not feel so much as a new game but I wouldn't even come close to designating it an expansion. Not in the least. It is obvious Valve went to great measures to ensure their sequel would live up to the hype of the original and the price of a new game by improving upon the base formula considerably w/o sacrificing any good elements from the first. Valve even designed the button placement and configuration to be virtually identical to the original. From what I can see, Valve did not sacrifice anything good to improve upon the sequel and this is rare.
At first, I was a very skeptical gamer when Valve announced a new Left 4 Dead but they turned me into a believer after all as I enjoyed the campaigns and the online multiplayer and will continue to do so in the future. My only wish is that Valve would include more zombies, but I'll just have to wait until Left 4 Dead 3 next Christmas when they introduce more environmental weapons than Dead Rising!
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 17, 2009 8:14:32 AM PST
Amy L. Stone says:
Wonderful, informative review! I am awaiting my gameday release to be delivered, and after playing the meager 2 levels on the demo, I am ravenous for new content. I am especially interested in Expert w/ Realism mode turned on. Thanks for clarifying what that was. After beating the other campaigns on the first one on expert, I am anxiously awaiting trying it out on the 2nd installment. Harder is better. Without a challenge, this game would get monotonous...(or could it? lol) This review was great. Thanks again!
Posted on Nov 25, 2009 5:31:14 PM PST
Damn fine review! I was sitting on the fence before this but you sold me on the game. Thanks - i needed to know how it fared compared to part 1.
Posted on Nov 26, 2009 5:39:29 PM PST
Thanks, I think I'm sold.
I was debating whether or not I wanted to show up for Black Friday at Best Buy...looks like I don't have to thanks to this lower price + the $20 discount I haven't redeemed yet from mw2. $20 Left4dead2, ftw!
Posted on Dec 9, 2009 2:53:42 PM PST
MR. J says:
Posted on Oct 5, 2013 8:08:27 AM PDT
Game of the Year edition? Are they planning on releasing one for the 360?
Posted on Jan 21, 2014 8:42:23 AM PST
Amazon Customer says:
Not really sure what all of the 5-star reviews are about - this game lags really bad when hundreds of zombies attack at once.
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