Review: Left 4 Dead 2

John Funk | 24 Nov 2009 13:00
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L4D2 also introduces new tools the Survivors can use, such as a Bile Bomb which makes all the Infected converge where it's thrown, making them an easy target for the slaughter (or alternatively providing a distraction for a desperate dash to the rescue boat), and Incendiary and Explosive ammunition. Some, like the Laser Sight upgrade, are too rare to really be worth buying the game for, but the Adrenaline shot and Defibrillator can really come in handy in a pinch.

Of course, the three new Infected - Charger, Jockey, and Spitter - necessitate every tool you've got on hand, and some might argue that the new AI Director tends to err on the side of "brutal." There are periods of quiet and you'll find the occasional health pack when you really need it, but there will be times when you and your teammates are battered and on your last legs, and the Director will throw a Tank at you because, I don't know, it feels like being a dick. As for the much-touted improvements to the Director that will allow it to change the level architecture itself? I've noticed it, but it's relatively underwhelming, usually boiling down to what is essentially "go through this door instead of the other entrance thirty feet further down the street."

People who liked playing as the Infected in Versus mode in the first game should enjoy the chance to mess around as the Charger, Spitter, or Jockey (and especially enjoy playing as the Charger and knocking Survivors to instant death by tackling them out a window). Beyond that, there are two new gameplay modes: Scavenge, a Versus modification that asks the Survivors to find gas cans to fill a generator before the time is up, and Realism, a mode that turns off many of the things that make the game feel, well, game-y - no revival closets for you! These should be more than enough to hold players' attention once the Campaign starts to wear thin, but even that should take a while.

So yes, Left 4 Dead 2 is a great experience if you've never played the first game. From what I've heard, it's a great experience even if you have. No matter what, it seems that everybody can agree on this: Bashing zombie heads in with a guitar in the middle of a rock concert is awesome.

Bottom Line: Cool new weapons, likable new characters, dastardly new zombies, huge new levels with epic new finales. Doesn't quite deliver on all the promises, but it delivers a damn entertaining experience. It's a bigger version of Left 4 Dead, and it's hard to imagine how anyone could go back.

Recommendation: Do you like killing zombies? Do you have an internet connection to play with friends and avoid the less-awesome single-player mode? Great, you'll probably like L4D2. If you're wavering, that's what the demo's for.


John Funk doesn't know why Valve didn't call the final New Orleans campaign "No Quarter." It's such a perfect title!

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