Product Type: Electronic Arts Xbox 360 games
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Zombie killin' ain't never been so good!
Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Stunt 101
Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360)
Date: 08/12/09, updated on 28/12/09 (65 review reads)
Advantages: Big and small improvements to the first game make it worth upgrading from L4D.
Disadvantages: Not worth it if you didn't dig the first game at all.
Despite how critically well recieved the first game was, Left 4 Dead 2 has been recieveing its fair bit of controversy. In Australia, it has been banned because of its 'extreme violence' and chopped down to fit the country's rating system, in the UK it's boxart had to be changed because they were offended that it looked like the zombie was sticking it's two fingers up at us, and it's even recieved controversy with fans who believe that L4D2 should be released as a DLC pack rather than a full new game. But it's finally in stores, does it overcome its critisism and offer a great game?
L4D2's core is fundamentally the same as the first game. You and three other survivors must fight through the hordes of infected in a handful of campaigns. It sounds simple, but what's made L4D such a hit was its A.I. director. This will be your greatest foe as it randomly places special infected foes, weapons, hordes of infected at once and more. It keeps the game fresh every time as while the objective is the same one time you could have a smooth experience with some special infected while another you will have constant infected running at you with no breather room, especially on the Expert difficulty where one mistake is pretty much death.
So while the beating heart of L4D2 is unchanged from the first game, what makes L4D2 really worth upgrading is just how many changes to its exterior improve it. The first game had a routine-every level you'd have to reach the saferoom until the last one where you basically called an escape vehicle and held out until it came. It worked but was slightly repetitive. L4D2 shakes things up considerably. While you still visit saferooms between levels, sometimes, rather than escaping in a vehicle, you might have to fuel up a muscle car or start up a rock concert to escape, a change from the first game. And level structuring can be different too, for example one campaign has you finding fuel then backtracking through the same levels to reach an escape boat, and any supplies you've used before will disappear. It changes the pace of the game considerably.
The game's infected are changed up too. While there are plenty of similar normal infected, there are some uncommon infected like Clowns, Riot guards and Builders who change the game somewhat too. The riot guards, for example, are completely protected by bullet-proof shielding on the front so dealing with them is much tougher and the clowns lead packs of sometimes ten zombies straight to you, causing chaos. The special infected return too, including the pouncing hunters, the boomer who pukes to attract the horde and the tank that can crush you with concrete and cars. There's also several new infected, like the spitter whose toxic goo can dwindle your health, the jockey who jumps on a player and rides them into the horde or the aforementioned goo, and the charger who rams into you and pins you down for a smackdown. They add variety to the game along with the old special infected.
What definately shakes the variety up most are the game's new weapons. While the first game limited you to one shotgun, sub-machine gun, pistol, sniper rifle and assault rifles you now get multiple variations of each weapons and they each have strength and weaknesses, for example the Scar assault rifle is powerful but doesn't fire at full burst. The other new weapons are the strange melee weapons which replace pistols. The different melee weapons vary from the bland, like nightsticks and baseball bats, to the wild like guitars and frying pans. The melee weapons would be a joke if they weren't so darn powerful. One hit means death for a zombie, and the sounds they make when they crunch into the infected is great. You can also find special ammo like incindary and explosive bullets.
There are also some new modes to bolster the first games versus mode which pitted zombie versus survivor in the campaign levels as well as the survivor mode patched into the game which had you fighting infected until you died. It's worth noting that all levels can be played in versus now, unlike L4D. The new modes here are Scavenge and Realism. Scavenge is a new multiplayer mode where you must collect fuel cans as the survivors to fuel an escape route, while the other team are the special infected and must stop the survivors. It's a nice, quicker multiplayer supplement to the lengthy versus mode. The realism mode is like Hardcore mode on Call of Duty, as it removes much of the heads-up display, including when team mates are pinned down by special infected. This mode requires upmost teamwork because of that and again it shakes up the groundwork laid by L4D.
The five new campaign levels are fantastic in terms of the aesthetics and atmosphere. The first campaign has you escaping a burnt out building, which once you reach the really smoking areas, will start to affect your vision. The second campaign places you in a carnvial which is filled with the zombie clowns among others, and even has some games to play where you must prove you are faster and stronger than mustachio.Another campaign, Hard Rain, is pretty standard travelling through a murky area until it starts pouring with rain, completely blocking your view for five feet in front of you. The swamp campaign is also tense because if you're in water you can't run meaning you could be more prone to being eaten alive. The new campaigns are more exciting and lively than the first game's four campaigns.
Graphically, the game looks improved over the first game, thanks to sharper textures, fantastic new weather effects and lighting. Everything looks improved from the first game, however, it does keep the same aesthetics from the first game like the quirky sound effects from picking up special items. The new levels like the Carnival, Swamp and New Orleans scream horror fantasy, creating a spooky atmosphere which cranks up when you change the difficulty to Expert. Sometimes the zombies can look ugly up close, but the visuals don't disappoint. The sound doesn't disappoint either, which improved noises for the infected as they sometimes sounded like cartoon frogs. The guns pack a punch, especially the new weapons, and it can't be forgotten how hilarious the melee weapons sound, especially the guitar, which plays a chord everytime you hit a zombie.
Is Left 4 Dead 2 good, bad or ugly?
Left 4 Dead 2 won't disappoint fans of the first game. At the same time, if you weren't interested in the zombie killing of the first game, it might not be for you. It depends why you didn't like it, there are so many improvements to L4D2 that you could argue they should have released this instead of L4D. If it was the lack of weapons that bugged you, new melee weapons and many more added guns will satisfy those players, and if it was a lack of value, the campaigns are much longer and the new modes like realism and scavenge added with the old versus and survival modes increase the game's longevity. However if you just didn't like it, this won't impress you yet anyone who even remotely enjoyed the first game will find this to be a greatly improved sequel.
Left 4 dead 2 was released on November 20th 2009 on Xbox 360 and PC. It is rated 18+ for frequent strong blood violence and gore and can be bought for at least £32.
Summary: Valve have done it again...again!
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