Published on December 13th, 2009 | by prime0
Left 4 Dead 2 – Review
Summary: Valve have crafted an experience which is fluid, original and consistently brilliant
Try and name any games which have been set in the Southern states of America over the past 10 years. We bet you can’t and that singular factor is one of the main reasons why Left 4 Dead 2 feels so original. Everything from the music, set pieces, certain survivors and even the infected perpetuate the theme that you are only a short boat ride away from New Orleans. It may seem like an insignificant factor, but by utilizing redneck culture, Valve have crafted an experience which is fluid, original and consistently brilliant.
Valve received flack for releasing the sequel in such a short amount of time, and much of the game has stayed fundamentally the same. You and three other survivors still have to make it to the rendezvous point without getting mauled by waves of infected and the various special characters like Tanks, Boomers, Smokers and three new classes.
Each of the new infected completely change the complexity of multiplayer and will alter many veteran’s tactics. The Spitter’s ability to send volleys of acid towards the survivors make her the most potentially damaging addition, while the Charger and the Jockey each have their own value, mostly in causing panic and chaos in enemy ranks.
The source engine now offers zombies that realistically break apart under fire, which is gloriously gory and incredibly satisfying, as you watch their limbs fly off in a multitude of directions.
Everything apart from the core values is new and also superior to the original. Now you have five campaigns instead of four and every one of them is able to be enjoyed in four-player co-op and survivors versus infected multiplayer. Straight out of the box it has plenty more content than the original and that’s not even including the new gameplay modes and three new infected classes.
Scavenge mode is the most important edition and satisfies the itch of competitive play without needing two hours to complete a campaign. Based on three roads of time-based gameplay, the survivors need to collect gas cans to keep their generator going while the infected need to stop them by any means possible. When a can is added, the survivors gain another slim morsel of time on the clock. As it counts down, a small drum beats gains more tempo and if it runs out without any cans in your hand then the round is over. Then both teams swap roles to see who can get the most cans home. It’s fantastic system and leads to some really tense scenarios. Like everything in Left 4 Dead 2, it’s all about teamwork and if you are constantly communicating on Teamspeak or Steam, you’ll have an even better time.
Each of the new campaigns is steeped in Southern flavor, all with their own distinct themes – whether it be a inner city, carnival or swamp. Hard Rain is our favorite, as the dramatic weather effects are some of the best we’ve seen implemented in any game.
The plot’s wider content is explained by graffiti on the safe room walls. It’s a method which Valve has become known for and once again it works extremely well here. Campaigns also flow seamlessly into one another and are each punctuated by explosive finales. It’s a nice way to end each episode, which are also significantly longer than the original’s.
Melee weapons make their debut and even though to gory effect, eventually you’ll prefer something a bit safer. Friendly fire is a constant danger with close range weaponry and even though it isn’t Valve’s fault, you’ll probably have your fill after an hour or so. Other new weapons include the always awesome Grenade Launcher, Magnum, various assault rifles and the auto-shotgun. They each add more color to the campaign, and even those who just used the Hunting Rifle before, may be a little bit tempted to try something new.
Difficulty is once again impossible at the high end, but everyone should be able to find a level which meets the fun versus challenge ratio. There’s also Realism mode for the masochists among you, which switches off all the gameplay aids, such as survivor outlines and respawning closets. It’s a much more engrossing experience, as death awaits around most corners, with witch provocation resulting in immediate death to the victim.
It’s scary that Valve pumped out a game as polished as this in just over a year. There’s so many new additions which completely change established gameplay dynamics, and frankly it’s impossible not to recommend.