There has never been a bloodier, more entertaining and more complete version of brutal cooperative shooter.
Roughly a year after the release of the original Left 4 Dead, look what we have here – its sequel, Left 4 Dead 2, is out! Kind of surprising but it’s quite a pleasant surprise, especially as these games are notoriously known for delays and fuzzy release dates.
The great news is Left 4 Dead 2 is indeed a complete game, despite the history of delays and potential apprehensions about how soon – or long – this sequel was going to take coming out after the original. It is also, without a doubt, the better game; that is, if you’re still into grouping with friends and slaying packs of voracious undead. Here’s the downside though; don’t expect some dramatic new features to it. It’s really just a bunch of refinement and augmentation of existing features. So if you’ve grown weary of the kind of game-play formula that Left 4 Dead has, there might not be much point in purchasing the sequel, no matter how much better it is than the first.
Given that, I would say you’d still feel a twinge of disappointment if you go back to the original game after experiencing the sequel. Left 4 Dead 2 still has the same fiercely team-oriented game play style and five full campaigns but it’s more interesting this time; more fleshed out with distinctive background and out-of-this-world action-packed pieces. It’s got more personality and more modes; but most of all, it generally gives you a lot more challenges than the first one.
What I’m talking about probably makes no sense to you if you haven’t played the first at all so let me step back a bit. It’s “the day-of-the-reckoning” type of game – an Apocalypse – and you get to play as one of four human Survivors who try to dash their way to the end of a map, through a multitude of rapidly-deployed Zombies. Location of this sequel is set in the American southeast side with its current cast of characters more boisterous but also more aware of their situation. In fact, one of the characters, Ellis, has been told many times to “shut up!”
But shutting up is the last thing you should consider with this game. Left 4 Dead 2 is more effective and actually works best when played as a team. And if you want to win, you need to participate and talk. Every member of the four-person Survivors squad can only survive with continuous communicating on what they’re up to, calling out locations for weapons, ammunitions, health pickups and asking for assistance in dire trouble. Here’s the catch, no scene ever plays in the exact same line of attack due to the presence of an AI or Artificial Intelligence known as the Director who generally “supervises” the action. Every experience is different and you can even swap around stages to make things easier and repeat play is encouraged as the challenge of the game is adaptable to the particular skill level of the players.
Just like the original version, you can still choose from multiple difficulty settings; starting with Normal setting, which make for a good entry-level challenge, to Expert setting where only those with supreme skills on communication, analytical decision-making and quick reaction will likely survive.
The Realism mode makes every confrontation more daring, more intimidating and more challenging leaving it all up to your communication skills to call for ammunition, item pickups and to let your comrades when you’re in distress. Now if you’re the “loner” type who keeps to himself and prefers to do things on his own, you probably wouldn’t be too keen on Left 4 Dead in any version. The amount of huge teamwork that this game requires is its main attraction. It’s one of the greatest games for sparking off the thrilling response among players, since whether you win or lose; you become dependent not just on your own skills but also the attitude and performance of others around you.
Bots are still very much part of the set up and though playing alone is nowhere near as exciting an experience as when you’re with a team, playing solo is still possible and functional. Full Versus game, however, can be best experienced with a full party to deal with the challenges. Versus is in fact the most challenging mode with four players running as the Survivors face off with four others controlling the powerful Zombie type bosses on the other end. The new special powers of the Zombie bosses, such as the Spitter’s acid pool or the Jockey’s ability to control directional movements of a Survivor are irresistible add-ons that elevate the excitement to a higher level; not to mention the unpredictability of the game experience.