One year after the release of the original, Left 4 Dead 2 has made its way onto store shelves after much controversy. First announced at E3 this year L4D2 has since been the target of boycotts supposedly supported by thousands of gamers who insisted that one year is too short of a time for a proper sequel. This fact rung especially true for Valve fans because of the developer usually taking extra amounts of time with their games. However fans who thought that L4D2 would be a rushed and undeveloped product will be surprised.
Left 4 Dead 2 though a sequel stays very close to the original’s formula, four survivors are pitted against hordes of zombies in the hopes of finding escape. The waves of common zombies are also complemented with “Special Infected”, these undead are much more dangerous and harder to kill and each have different abilities. This same basic foundation is completely intact for the sequel and rightfully so, the game makes for an excellent multiplayer experience that is rivaled by few other titles. Although the sequel is very close to the original there is of course plenty of differences as well. This time the game takes place in the American south, so you’ll get environments and characters that fit the theme well.
In the graphics department there isn’t much to talk about if you’re familiar with L4D. Characters are detailed and the environments are interactive but the real draw of the game is it’s ability to have dozens of zombies on screen at once, the game almost never slows down during the more hectic times and for that it definitely gets points. Artistically L4D2 is fairly similar to the original but with a southern theme painted over it. Overall there is little improvement over the original but that still puts the game above most titles on the current generation of systems.
Audio, like the graphics doesn’t have a whole lot of new things going on either but that’s only because the original was just that good. Zombies scream and grunt, each special infected has it’s own sounds and the music changes according to the happenings. What really shines however is the character dialog, like the original the characters have a lot of in game lines and they are all done very well. The southern accents fit extremely well with the characters and very few if any lines are acted out badly. Valve definitely takes pride in it’s character’s dialogs and it shows in L4D2.
The gameplay is where there is more variety in the game than its original. If you thought that the number of items and weapons in L4D were limited then you’ll definitely like L4D2’s inventory. One of the main draws of the game is its use of melee weapons, these range from axes to guitars, they work well when fighting off hordes of zombies and come as a welcome alternative to just using a pistol. Also the game offers more items like adrenaline shots that give you a temporary boost in speed and “bile canisters” that contain boomer vomit which can be used to turn the undead against each other. Defibrillators which can be carried instead of health packs can revive downed allies are also a welcome addition. The other major draw of L4D2 is also the new special infected, The Charger, The Spitter, and The Jockey. All of the new characters fit in well with the already established cast of infected and also provide a whole new dimension in versus mode.
All of the game modes in the original are here again, Campaign, Versus, and Survival were all great modes and are just as fun in L4D2. However in addition to these modes there is also Scavenge that puts an emphasis on collecting items and Realism mode that makes the campaign much harder to play through. All of these modes add up to a lot of replay value that makes the title well worth its price.
Overall Left 4 Dead 2 is a great game but mostly because the original was. There’s enough in here to warrant a purchase even if you bought the original and if you don’t own the original then Left 4 Dead 2 becomes a definite buy. Everything about the game shines with quality and when considering the sequel came out a year after it’s original this actually becomes a very impressive feat for the developer.
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