joe_vander_zanden's Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360) review

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Left 4 Dead 2 XBOX 360

 Left 4 Dead 2 XBOX 360

I think that the success of Left 4 dead 2 will have come as a surprise to most people, with the exception of the developers at Valve. They must have been sitting smugly just watching the sales rack up.  Even though its release was nearly 12 months ago, it rightly deserves its position in the top 10 of favorite games. A good critical reception rapidly turned into a sales bonanza, quickly selling 3 million units across the three main platforms.

Left 4 dead 2 carries on from its predecessor seamlessly, but is much improved. The game play, weapons and enemies are of a much higher standard, and make this zombie slaying blood fest an absolute joy to play. The core of the game is essentially the same, so you can pick it up and play it without having to mess about trying to work out how everything works. It does fall down in parts however, in that as an official sequel to a hit game, it doesn’t feel like a totally new gaming experience. Yes, it resurrects a great one  from the previous game but you feel a bit short changed. Some die hard fans of the original have renamed this adventure Left 4 dead 1.5, and you can see where they are coming from but that is a tad harsh, left for dead 1.8 would be more accurate.

The best way to compare and the new old is by breaking down the new features into categories. The biggest new feature is the setting and the characters. The use of , or Crescent city to be more precise, was a bold choice.  The history of voodoo and the dark arts which this city carries in its archives make it an almost perfect choice for this kind of game. The recent tragedy that occurred there further adds to the black cloud which still hangs over it, but Left 4 dead 2 is far from exploitative, the swamps have long been a favored setting for horror movies. This was a helluva creepy place long before Katrina.

The introduction of new characters and their unique dialogue feels very fresh. The way that a simple command can be extended into a full conversation makes you want to repeat the campaign over and over again as the various characters. They are also very well produced and feel like four genuine Americans rather than caricatures.

The set pieces that are at the end of each chapter are awesome, and are so much more than just a gruesome onslaught. One of them consists of a mall with multi levels, which you need to search for gas cans. These cans are needed to fuel up the antique car that is in the lobby. In another you have a rock n roll band to control on the stage, with amazing pyrotechnics. All the other levels create some great game play too, with many other fun set pieces, check out the rollercoaster.

The new enemies deserve a mention too. There are several levels of infections within them, and they all have a bit of a quirk. The new additions particularly bring a lot of fun to the multi player modes.  The one known as Charger is a lot of fun to play but in the campaigns can be a real pain, same as the Spitter. The Jockey is an enemy I haven’t made my mind up about as yet, although his presence in such a creepy game is appropriate.

The new weapons seem unnecessary as they really bring nothing new to the game. All you really need is the shotgun, combined with the katana or machete when you are in a melee. Just forget the pistol even exists, it’s not worth bothering about. Although each new weapon does something different, not even the tools like the defibrillator bring anything to the game.


After several games on here working through the levels and a few bashes on the multi player mode, I can’t say that I want any changes made to the game, but there were obvious improvements to be made that weren’t. Should this have been  launched as a whole new game or  as  an extra that was  downloadable? The jury’s still out on that one. This is a great game, that could have been awesome, but isn’t quite.

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