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Four and the Gore- Left 4 Dead 2 Review


             We haven’t unlocked a hidden, Thriller-inspired dance mini-game, but this screenshot gives us hope.

Few movies of 1970’s have had an enduring effect on popular culture like George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. While John Travolta may have stirred a fleeting interest in disco, the 1978 horror film’s inspired mix of uneasy alliances, zombies, and nihilism has influenced a generation of comics, films, and games. The films premise, which pitted a quartet of protagonists against an unrelenting legion of the undead, clearly impacted the developers of 2008’s Left 4 Dead.

Upon the title’s release, Valve’s game immediately struck a chord with gamers, as groups confronted an insurmountable throng of flesh-hungry foes. Players were forced into cooperation, since the game’s artificial intelligence, named “The Director”, took punitive actions against wayward team members. Bands of explorers learned to stick together and cover their fire sectors, lest a team of tanks or smokers would obliterate the entire squad. Yet, despite all the game’s visceral strengths, a few setbacks impeded Left 4 Dead from reaching its dazzling potential.


                                    “You take out that Tai-Chi dude at 11 o’clock, I’ll take care of the rest”

Players accustomed to the treasure trove of infected-annihilating weaponry of Dead Rising, soon grew fatigued with Left 4 Dead’s abbreviated arsenal. Others became frustrated by the ineffectiveness of pushing encroaching enemies away; while the maneuver was required when the player was mobbed, the time required to execute allowed even more foes to surround survivors. The recently released Left 4 Dead 2 consummately resolve these concerns.

First, the game’s collection of armaments and ballistics has been appreciatively augmented; from the SCAR-L influenced combat rifle to the ‘blooper’ grenade launcher, L4D2’s exteneded weapon set offers a much needed range of diversity. A careful amount of balancing is evident, giving players with heavy-hitting weapons, a reduced amount of ammo, and varying reload times. As such, teams will need to offer extra protection for players that choose the grenadier role. Players can also locate reserves of incendiary or explosive rounds, which deal supplementary damage to foes. Carrying these types of ammo means players will gave to forgo their medpacks, creating a captivating risk/reward dynamic.

Left 4 Dead 2’s incorporation of melee weapons- fire axes, bats, swords, and frying pans now deal damage to the infected, while saving precious ammunition. One of the highlights of the game is locating a chainsaw, which allows survivors to spring through crowds of enemies, turning the infected into a bloody pulp. The title’s new loadouts are instrumental in eliminating the three new enemy types. Spitters lob pools of toxic goo at gamers, sending tight-knit group scattering for cover. Jockeys recall Half-Life’s head crab, as they wrap around player’s heads, taking control over their movement, and often sending them into peril. Chargers behave like smokers, pulling survivors away from teammates, as they beat them into lifelessness.


                     “I bet there’s no infected in the Tunnel of Love over there, Nick.” “Yeah…nice try, Ellis”

Although the challenge level of Left 4 Dead 2 has been elevated, masochists may enjoy the title’s realism mode, which makes the inflected harder to kill, and removes the HUD-like assistance of glowing aura’s around teammates and weaponry. The title’s new multiplayer mode, Scavenge, tasks players with recovering gas canisters against a countdown timer. It’s back and forth momentum is wonderfully heated, as the fuel cans seem to get ignited or fumbled at the most inopportune moments.

While the title is incredibly enjoyable with a party of three like-minded participants, gamers who prefer a more solitary experience will find little reason to play through Left 4 Dead 2. Although the game’s singe player campaign allows gamers to trek through the game’s environments with capable A.I. partners, without an extended narrative or sense of community the game can seem quite shallow.


                                          “Hey hotpants, I hope those are Kool-Aide stains on your hands!

Left 4 Dead 2 is to be commended for its stable framerate, which retains its fluidity even when a flock of enemies is hurtling toward the player. Antagonist animations are consistently eerie- from lone corpses that sway ominously in corners, to the undead’s swift scampers along fences. Gunshots now splatter enemies targeted appendages instead of L4D’s broad damage model. Yet for all game’s graphical competency, the game can look a bit flat at times. While the drab colors and lack of consistently detailed texturing is subtle, players will likely notice the Source engine beginning to show its age.
           

Many worried that Left  4 Dead’s journey to market a year after the release of original title signaled only a trivial deviation in the game’s mechanics. Fortunately, a number of small, but significant enhancements elevate the title to must-play status.  Left 4 Dead 2 will satisfy action-oriented gamers who prefer a collective, online shooter that is unswervingly intense.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

100 comments

  1. First! Great review, guys!

  2. Bought this on Tuesday, and I’m liking it, but not loving it.

  3. Guys please do some research. In the manual it says they are not zombies, but the inflected, some of the graffiti says the same thing.

  4. I saw another eview that called them zombie. Gamepro I think.

    BTW- Who reads the manual?

  5. As far am I’m concerned Valve has nailed the MP coop game.

  6. Until a watched the orginal Dawn of the Dead a few months ago, I had no idea of the movie’s inpiration of games. Now, alot of games seem to ripping off Dawn wholesale.

  7. Man, so many great game, so little money. I should sell my blood or ideas.

  8. As always I love your reviews, Deagle. You are a machine.

    How come the mags havent tried to hire you? You coudl probably replace 3 or 4 writers.

  9. I guess this put the “they should have just made DLC” complaints to rest.

  10. Is there any lag with the game? I rented the first when it came out, and found a bit.

  11. He’s comparing it to Dawn of the Dead, which had zombies.

    If you look at the first picture, the creatures look very zombielike, although they can run.

  12. I wonder how George Romero thinks about RE, Dead Rising and this.

  13. Sperm is always an option 😉

  14. Damn an A- huh.It seems like me and a friend of mine are the only ones who thinks l4d 1 and 2 are average at best games :X..

  15. SCAR-L and blooper refernce? Man, you sould like those crazy people who are actually preparing for a zombie outbreak.

  16. How come I have the game, am playing in 1080P and none of the game looks as good as the screenshots here?

  17. I wish this was more variety to the inflected. They only seem to change on the different missions.

  18. Hmm, this and Assassins Creed 2 or Tony Hawk Ride?

    Just Kidding!

  19. Yeah, I think they are WAY overrated.

  20. GiantBomb said this was GOTY. Agree?

  21. Yep, I didn’t care for the first game much.

  22. Great movie, and the remake wasn’t too bad either.

  23. I can wait for this one. The community will still be there.

  24. Is this published by EA?

  25. I love zombies, but don’t really like MP. I’ll wait for DR2, I guess.

  26. I think most sites have given the game a straight “A”, this is one of the lower scores I’ve seen. Metacritic has a 93.

  27. My box doesn’t have an EA logo on it.

  28. I thought the first was so-so.

  29. Good review. I totally want this one.

  30. The first L4D is fine for me, until this one hits $30 or so.

  31. No interest in this one. The first was too simple, the same thing over and over.

  32. I picked this up and each of the zones don’t seem to take advantage of the setting. In a post-Katrina world, New Orleans should be depicted better. Half the time the environments are generic.

  33. When did zombies become the new nazis?

    I’m a bit bored with infected/zombie types. It was fun for a while, but really tired now.

  34. Mt buddy said he got to play this with some of the Valve people. That mad some mad killing skills.

  35. Some of your best captions yet!

  36. I haven’t noticed any, and I’ve played about 8 hours.

  37. I think if like Deagle said, you’re a fan of zombies than you’ll get more mileage out the the game for sure.

  38. Yea, the carnival was cool, but it could have been anywhere.

  39. Using words like ‘nihilism’ in a review make you look douchey, FYI.

  40. No way is this game an A-, more like a c-!

  41. Strange. I agree with both of you 100%. Well played, sirs.

  42. Man the characters are wheat toast bland.

  43. I don’t think a new new weapons, levels, and melée is worth $60

  44. Everyone is giving the game an A? Why aren’t you guys? There’s didn’t seem to be any problems in the review

  45. It’s getting some reviews, but I see i’m not alone in passing it up.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyeemtS1jII

  46. Not your best title ever.

  47. Haha, what the hell was that?

  48. Anyone saying this is like the first game is friggin’ crazy.

  49. Zombies cry blood tears? cool.

  50. Perfect scores from G4, Variety, and Armchair Empire.

  51. Funny, lower scores are coming in now.

  52. I had a few players get dropped last night while playing. I hope Valve is going to fix this.

  53. I need to at least rent this to see if I like it. I never played the first game, but I hear so much about it.

  54. I feel the same, but the community might get smaller by then.

  55. I’m hoping for a Black Friday deal on this one.

  56. Good review.

  57. Actually, G4 gave it a 4/5. Still a good score, but they said hit and miss campaign modes brought it down.

    Nice review guys!

  58. Great review, i’m looking at that best buy deal for this game. I hope Walmart will pm it.

  59. Wow nice review, I was on the edge and want to buy it now, I wish I could.

  60. Still torn between picking it up

  61. Thanks for the great review.

  62. Whoa, great review!

  63. I wonder if I will ever play the first again after playing L4D2

  64. Nice review. I’m not sure how much I like the new infected, though… I’d rate this as ‘get when it falls in your price range, but there’s no rush’
    bracket.

  65. Not sure i like the increased difficulty with friendly fire.

  66. probably will pick this up this bf.

  67. This game looks much better than the first. Too bad I don’t have it. :/

  68. L4D2 is awesome

  69. Just played the demo and am looking forward to winning a copy of this.

  70. Still haven’t picked this one up, but I really really want it.

  71. Fantastic review, if I do say so myself.

  72. Fantastic review, I liked the first game and played the new demo and I liked it, but short on cash atm.

  73. This is a game I really need to get. Sadly, a college student’s wallet usually doesn’t have room to get great games every time they come out.

  74. I liked what I played of the demo and this confirms it. Thanks again for another great review.

  75. To me this game is very different. I don’t know why.

  76. Loved the first L4D. It was an epic fall last year and now I can only hope to get this game when I can afford it and relive all the zombie bashing mayhem in co-op!

  77. I loved left 4 dead, and i really want this game, but i don’t have any money to buy it. 🙁

  78. This game is awesome!! A friend of mine rented it and we played co-op for hours!! It is definitely an awesome game!!

  79. Looking forward to picking this up; especially after playing the demo.

  80. Looks like fun.

  81. Probably best to get the 360 version, as the PC version still a bit rocky. All of my Steam achievements are gone w/in 8 hours after getting them.

    Also, those spitters are great at driving down health 🙂

  82. This game is so much like the first but with a few tweaks. Nonetheless, I would still get it since multi-player is great.

  83. Thought the first one was VASTLY overrated. I’ll try giving it a rent, just for a second chance.

  84. Nice review

  85. What your achievements are GONE?

    WTF?

  86. Great review.

  87. Really enjoyed this review. L4D2 FTW!

  88. The first one didn’t have enough “lasting power”. Hopefully Valve will be more generous in their support of the 360 version. PC version had mods so it was set. Have my eye on this one for a holiday sale.

  89. Left 4 Dead was pretty sweet 😀 4 player co-op is always awesome.

  90. Can’t wait to try this, appreciate the review.

  91. Game looks great. Thanks for the review.

  92. This game is my one black friday purchase. Can’t wait for it!

  93. Sounds like a great game to play for the holidays.

  94. Great review.

  95. Awesome review. Been waiting to play this game. A lot of cool features that I’m looking forward to trying out.

  96. Might pick up this game at a cheaper price.

  97. Definitely want to try this game out after playing the first. The first was a little boring because of the non replayability of the campaign… but with the newer AI… it seems very interesting.

  98. Looks like a great game!

  99. boo no zoey! the new characters aren’t that interesting to me

  100. Yeah, they are pretty boring. I guess the first crew is dead 😉