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Review: Left 4 Dead 2 (PC)

It may have been forgotten for a few days after MW2‘s release, but here’s the game everyone has been dying for (bad pun, I know, but we know you all love it). Left 4 Dead 2 is here and we’re diving right into the carnage. Without further delay, we present to you our Left 4 Dead 2 review (After the break, that is.)

One of the great new features of the game is diversity in the appearance of the infected. The zombies that are thrown at you from every direction range from people still in their underpants, people in hazmat suits, bus drivers, chefs,  even SWAT in their bullet-resistant kevlar. This is a large improvement over L4D1‘s repetitive infected.

Dead Center is the first of five campaigns found in L4D2. You start off in a large, flaming building complex. As you move through the building the fire spreads behind you, cutting off routes, making the navigation very dynamic.

As the campaign progresses, it is very reminiscent of L4D1; the maps flow in the same way with the brilliant AI director deciding our fate, but somehow, everything seems to have been upped in difficulty and quality just a notch. In L4D1, when you were doing well, the director would spawn a larger horde of zombies who are harder to kill, dynamically making it harder for you to try and slow you down, but in L4D2, it feels like the director jumps straight to “you’re doing far too well, here’s two tanks’ mode, making the game painfully hard and even frustrating at times.

Like L4D1, each campaigns has its own unique finale. Even on easy they seem to be needlessly difficult. Valve seems to have put a lot of effort into these campaigns, making them as playable and dynamic as possible, but it’s easy to see kill zones falling back into place when it comes to versus mode.

Areas of the map which, if used correctly by the special infected, can spell death for the survivor team in one well-timed ambush, something that was also an issue in L4D1.

Valve likes to show off their brilliant engine with feats of cinematic brilliance, and L4D2 is no exception.  The new characters are also refreshing, each of them with their own scripts. It will keep you entertained while playing, but this isn’t a huge feature and the voices can easily be drowned out by the action.

The new, larger weapon arsenal is also a welcomed, but small improvement not bringing much extra to the playing field. You see pretty much everyone going for the same guns, which brings up an issue with gun balancing. The new guns do make it a bit more interesting than L4D1, but as mentioned they aren’t balanced very well. Unlike L4D1, where you saw a lot of diversity in what players were picking up, everyone goes for a couple certain guns in L4D2, thus not bringing much diversity and individual gameplay.

Melee combat is a huge new factor in L4D2.  Whether you’re smacking zombies in the face with an electric guitar or shredding them with a chain saw, the adrenaline-pumping close quarters are fantastic.

L4D2 retains the original set of boss infected and adds three of its own. The Spitter is a horrible looking woman with a lengthy neck and the ability to spit acidic liquid long distances that explodes on contact, splashing everywhere in the area inflicting damage. When she dies, she also release a similar, but smaller puddle.

The Charger is a hillbilly who seems to have spent too much time admiring his porn collection and, as a result, has one massive arm with which he charges at survivors, rams them and proceeds to pick them up and slam them into the ground.

The third new infected is The Jockey, a midget zombie who scuttles around in a crouched-looking stance with impressive speed and when he gets close to a survivor, he leaps onto their back. Once this little fella gets on your backside he can actually control your character and can lead you away from the other survivors to be picked off.

The new Realistic and Scavenge game modes make this game even more re-playable. Realistic mode is like taking your chosen difficulty and making it harder. Objects are harder to spot and to kill a zombie, it takes a head shot.

Scavenge mode is a lot like survival, but instead of your only job being to kill all the sons of bitches, you get a generator or car and you must struggle to keep it fueled up. There are special infected controlled by other players to deal with and the gas cans spawn in random places on the maps, so you have to look for them as a team to bring them back. Whenever you get a can back, it scores a point for your team and adds time to the countdown. Both teams get a chance to be both the infected and the survivors.

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Scores

- Graphics: 7
Graphics have been improved from the original game. The most noticeable use of the engine is on the Heavy Rain campaign, where they use advanced rain techniques to create a breathtaking atmosphere.

- Storyline: 5
There is a back story, but not much of a progressive storyline. Each character will mumble something about their past, but that’s the most we find out.

- Gameplay: 9
The gameplay is as solid as the first installment. Movement and shooting is as good as it should be and the boss infected are balanced nicely. Overall, the game is fun to play!

- Controls: 10
As with the first game in the series, controls are delightfully simple and forgiving.

- Lasting Appeal: 9
After a while, you may get bored of playing the campaign over and over again, but the excitement to be had in the various game modes is undeniable. With a selection of delicacies to satisfy your gaming taste buds, you can keep playing over and over again and never have the same game twice.

Overall: 8 Olives

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