Left 4 Dead 2 Review

Posted: June 17, 2010 in Review
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Left 4 Dead 2 Review

The first Left 4 Dead was an overrated pile of twaddle. Sure, it was fairly good fun online, but the levels, weapons and zombies were poor, repetitive and boring. If anything, it was a tech demo for a much better game.

Speaking of a much better game, here’s Left 4 Dead 2, a game that seizes the promise of the original and amplifies it by a thousand. Better characters, better levels, more guns, more special infected all equal more fun.

The keyword is variety. While the gameplay is identical to the previous game – four people work together to run from A to B – the sheer variety of great new ideas is staggering. Buildings catch fire, smoke obscures visibility, thunderstorms slow progress, level layouts change, the list goes on. As for the levels themselves, they’re leaps and bounds ahead of the first game. Malls, gunshops, fairground attractions, swamps, crashed airliners, construction sites and even war-torn cities. In short, the levels are so wildly, so visually, different to each other that they’re all truly incredible.

Even the end-of-campaign horde slaughter is made more enjoyable by various new ideas. While some missions are the same old ‘survive the onslaught’ affairs, others are more cunning. One sees the survivors sprinting around a mall, trying to gather gas cans to fill a car with, while another features a tremendously exciting headlong sprint across a bridge.

The special infected also add a brilliant new variety to the existing bunch, including the head-leaping Jockey, the destructive Charger and the goo-spitting, um, Spitter. All of them serve the purpose of splitting up the human characters and each adds a fantastic new layer to the challenge of survival. In addition, each level has unique zombies that new threats – infected riot police wear body armour, dead clowns have horde-attracting squeaky shoes and reanimated construction workers wear ear defenders, making them immune to pipe bombs.

The new weapons add tactics to the gameplay as well. Do you have dual pistols, a single desert eagle or swap handguns for one of the eight melee weapons? As for the primary weapons, the choices are extensive – silenced submachine guns, new machine guns, burst-fire guns, more shotguns and even a new version of the nigh-useless sniper rifle.

On top of this are laser sights for accurate shooting, special incendiary and explosive bullets, jars of horde-attracting Boomer vomit, speed-boosting adrenaline shots and even defibrillators for resurrecting fallen survivors. The wealth of imagination non offer is truly head-spinning and it asks the question, ‘where the hell was all this the first time around?’

New game features include gas can collect-a-thon Scavenge and the purer challenge of Survival mode. While Scavenge can only be played online, they are both a hell of a lot of fun and will see players returning to enjoy more time after time.

One the whole, Left 4 Dead 2 is the fun, frantic, highly replayable game the first should have been. More gameplay options provide more fun. Offline, it’s a damned enjoyable blast, but online it might well be the definitive co-op experience.

95%

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