We all remember when the zombie apocalypse hit the fictional cities of Fairfield and Riverside in Left 4 Dead, but things have gone south. Now, we’re getting some southern hospitality in settings like Louisiana. Unfortunately, “hospitality” includes a ton of zombies, new Special Infected and hurricanes. It looks like it’s going to be the worst Mardi Gras ever.
So, Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2) is the sequel to Valve’s beloved zombie shooter. I guess that a sequel was easier than making some new content for the first game. Anyway, it follows four new characters: Nick, Rochelle, Coach and Ellis. Nick is a con man with trust issues and an attitude, Rochelle is the…well, she’s kind of generic, Coach is a big tough guy with a kind heart, and Ellis is the guy who’ll take any dare and love every second of it. Just like in L4D, none of this really matters, but there is definitely more to these characters than in the first. They’ve added a lot more dialogue, back-story and one-liners for you to hear. While this was done to make you more attached to the characters, I didn’t necessarily feel too stuck to them. Well, maybe Ellis, but only because he’s hilarious in-game. The campaigns do chain together now, instead of being stand alone stories. So, if you finish a campaign in a car, the next one will start with you getting stuck on a highway and ditching your ride. I really loved how this was done, because it gave a feeling that this game actually has a storyline.
They’ve got your classic game types, like Campaign, Versus and Survival. Also, they added a new game type to play: Scavenge. Scavenge is a branch off of Versus, consisting of two teams. One team plays as the Humans, who try and collect gas cans to fuel a generator and the other team plays as the Infected, who try and kill the crap out of the humans. You’re on a time limit to collect all 16 gas cans, but each time you pour in a new can, it adds some time to the clock. You’d better expect to use some teamwork in this type, because it’s extremely difficult to try and get around as a lone wolf.
Along with the original Special Infected, they have brought in some new enemies to throw at you. The new threats are: The Jockey, The Spitter, The Charger, and for some reason, they made female Boomers. The Jockey likes to hop on your face and steer your player who constantly runs around like a crazy person, becoming quite frustrating in tough fights. Spitters are like those dinosaurs from Jurassic Park. You know, the one with the mane and the poison spit who ate the fat guy? Well, these girls like to spit acid on the ground that’ll cause constant damage to anyone standing in it, along with making an acid pool around her corpse after you drop her. The Chargers are a great new enemy, with the potential of being the most deadly. These guys will come sprinting at your team, flinging people through the air, and he’ll grab one of you. After you’re in his clutches, he proceeds to slam the shit out of you against the ground. Each hit from the Charger does massive damage, which is especially lethal on Expert difficulty. Oh, and the female Boomers are exactly the same as a male Boomer, except being really gross. Why did the Boomer get a new counterpart and not any of the other veteran Special Infected? The only change to the common infected is that there are way more than in the first game and each level has one different look of zombie. You get so many zombies thrown at you, you’d think the characters are covered in steak sauce. The new “uncommon common” zombies aren’t too different, but just give you something new to look at while you pump shotgun shells into the crowds.
The monsters aren’t the only new addition to L4D2. Get ready to bash some skulls in with a new arsenal of melee weapons, plus some new guns as well. Replacing the 5 guns of L4D, you now have around 10 guns to choose from. There are new assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and sub-machine guns. Believe me, they all bring smiles to your face. Speaking of smiles, you get a chainsaw! The chainsaw is definitely the coolest melee weapon you can rush into battle with, but there are plenty of other killing machines to choose from. You get an axe, a crowbar, a katana, a cricket bat, a baseball bat, a frying pan, a machete, a guitar and a nightstick. All of these are one hit kills on common infected and deal out some heavy damage to the Special Infected. It also adds a layer of realism onto the zombie apocalypse, you wouldn’t exactly find guns in every crack of a city. A new grenade makes an appearance in L4D2, it’s a canister full of Boomer bile. Basically, you throw it at whatever you want and wherever it hits will be swarmed by common infected. This is especially useful against tough enemies like the Tanks.
The voice acting is great for the people and the monsters, it’s all fun to hear and believable. You grow to recognize each individual sound as a different zombie or special infected, which gives you an early warning to incoming attacks. The dialogue isn’t the only thing to get an overhaul, they’ve added more music and changed it up from the old single chords. I was surprised to see an incoming horde of zombies and then hear some heavy rock kick in. I think the music is much better in this game, versus the original and adds more of an experience to the campaigns and battles.
The new environments are a much needed addition to killing zombies. We’ve all blasted our way through dark tunnels and cities laced with fire, but now we get a chance to meet our fears in broad daylight. Don’t worry, there are plenty of nighttime sequences, but the scenery changes a lot in this game. One of the more notable changes is a massive storm hitting halfway through a campaign. Imagine a blinding, hurricane-style storm while you’re trying to fight off hundreds of undead monsters. These scenes get extremely intense and a bit stressful, but it’s all good fun with your friends. Another change in the visuals of L4D2 are how the zombies are killed. Now, you can blow chunks off and out of zombies, cut them in half and rip off limbs. So, now there are actual body parts flying when you throw a grenade, instead of L4D’s explosions creating zombie Kool-Aid.
If you’ve played L4D, then you’ll know how the A.I. acts in L4D2. The zombies still run at top speed towards your brains, the special infected still ambush you and strike when you’re at your weakest and your computer controlled teammates still have crippling phobias of throwing a grenade every once in a while. Not to mention, the A.I. players will constantly jump into your line of fire. They’ve also got a knack for completely destroying you in the Versus game type. I mean, these guys will snipe you out of the best hiding spots and get kills that would be damn near impossible for a human player. Oh well, I still love playing it with friends.
They’ve made a great list of new and improved achievements for L4D2. No longer are the days of trying to kill 53,595 zombies for one achievement, instead it’s been replaced with a list of fairly simple tasks with a few extremely challenging ones. The achievements may be too easy (I got 35 in one night), but it won’t be an easy full 1000 to accomplish.
More guns, more gore, more dialogue, and more fun. I love everything about L4D2, except some issues with lag and some bugs in gameplay. Hopefully, these small problems will get fixed with a patch within a month or so. L4D2 takes everything you love from the original game and cranks it up to 11. Don’t miss this epic zombie experience.
I give Left 4 Dead 2 4.5 “Evil Clowns” out of 5