One Year Later, Killing Zombies Is Still A Blast
When the reveal trailer for Left 4 Dead 2 was shown at E3 '09, the world exploded. Well, not really. The internet exploded. Boycotts were set up, messages boards were attacked, and upset gamers everywhere were crying wolf. Even though many people lost faith in Valve as a developer, there is no denying that Left 4 Dead 2 is an excellent sequel to the best zombie game of 2008.
L4D2 introduces four new Survivors to play as. I found that they sorta lacked the charm that the previous set of characters had, but they are still fun to be around and can say some hilarious things. You got Ellis, a redneck mechanic who loves talking about his buddy Keith; Coach, a big dude that loves carnival food; Nick, a gambler in a suit..... and Rochelle, who is easily the worst character out of all of them. There are also new Special Infected in the form of the Charger, who plows through people; a Spitter, who spits that covers the ground and burns Survivors, and the Jockey, who jumps on a human's back and steers them away from their teammates. The number of weapons has also increased. There are 4 shotguns as opposed to two, 4 automatic weapons as opposed to two, 2 sniper rifles as opposed to one, and melee weapons. The melee weapons are especially powerful (they can kill a zombie in one hit), and it's very satisfying to run through a zombie infested cemetery cutting Infected down with a revved up chainsaw. New equipment includes Boomer Bile, which is a jar of Boomer puke that can be thrown on Infected (which causes them to attack each other), a defib-unit that can be used to revive dead teammates, and Adrenaline shots that give you increased speed and allow you to perform actions (like reviving people) much faster. There are also different types of ammo that you can use for your guns, including "fire bullets" that, well, set things on fire.
The AI Director, which helped to make the first game so replayable, is back and works much better. Not only can it change the location of zombies, Special Infected, and equipment, but it can also change the layout of the maps. You may find yourself heading down an alley one game, but the next time you're there the alley is blocked. You may be heading through the cemetery one day, and the next day the gravestones have changed places so you aren't sure of the exact route you need to take to get through.
The original Left 4 Dead shipped with two game modes, one of which (Versus) was basically incomplete. L4D2 ships with 5 this time around, and all of them are thankfully complete. There is Single Player, Versus, Survival, and a new one called Scavenge where the Survivor team must fill up a generator with gas cans spread out throughout the level while the Infected team tries to stop them. All of these (except for Scavenge, obviously) should seem familiar. As always, you can play online, but don't expect to find much enjoyment if you aren't playing with people you know. Every time I play online with strangers, the experience is pretty much horrible due to awful teammates, lack of communication, and other inconveniences. I also noticed that whenever the game was plagued by morons, it was hampered by lag. Keep in mind that I have a brilliant connection. The single player also has issues. The AI is absolutely terrible in this game. You'll often find yourself laying on the ground incapacitated while your teammates run in circles trying to get to you. Sometimes, you and another teammates will be done, and all of them will rush to the other, leaving you to die. Sometimes you'll get pounced on or strangled by a Smoker, and the AI will stand next to you staring off into the distance while you choke to death. It's just bad.
Graphically, L4D2 is a major improvement from the last game. Everything looks smoother, the framerate is a hundred times better, and the lighting has also improved. The zombies looks especially gross (in a good way), and it's cool seeing them covered in blood after getting shot. Gore is much more present too; you can even blow the entire back off a zombie with a well placed shot. The voice actors deliver their lines very well, especially Ellis who has a humorous Southern accent. I also noticed that the guns sound much more powerful than they did in the first game.
Simply put, Left 4 Dead 2 is a well made sequel to the zombie killing game we all love. Zombies themselves may be close to being overused like World War II, but that doesn't mean they aren't fun to kill. And Left 4 Dead 2 definitely is a fun game.... just make sure you bring some friends along for the ride.