At E3 this past June when Valve announced that we would be seeing Left 4 Dead 2 this year everyone was surprised. Some people were even angry which I never quite understood. Valve promised a more complete experience in Left 4 Dead 2 and they delivered in a big way. There are now five campaigns for you to fight through with an entirely new cast of characters. The enemies have even been given a boost as you now have “boss” infected to deal with as you progress through the campaigns. You still have your standard boomers and smokers to contend with, however, you now also have a Spitter, a Jockey and a Charger. With the Spitter they spit acid at you and once you take them out a bunch of acid spills on to the floor. You want to avoid this as much as possible as it can take away a lot of your health. You then have the Jockey who will jump on your back and try to steer you towards the waves of infected to make it easier for them to take you out. The Charger is pretty self explanatory; he charges at you and will maul you if you aren’t careful or if your team doesn’t help you out once he has you. There are also some new weapons at your disposal including melee weapons. It was amazing for me to have the horde charging at me and I would just rev up my chainsaw and, quite literally, cut my way through the crowd. You also have bats, frying pans, axes and a variety of other weapons for you to experiment and have fun with.
As I mentioned above there are now five campaigns as opposed to the original four that were released in the original Left 4 Dead. The Left 4 Dead 2 campaigns seem to be longer, more difficult, more immersive and generally just designed better overall. The A.I. director is back and better than ever constantly throwing challenges at you depending on how well you are doing. Things happen much more dynamically this time around making it so that each run through of a campaign will vary from the last. Valve also did a much better job at creating an actual story. If you go through the five campaigns in order then you will hear conversations from your A.I. partners, such as Ellis apologizing to everyone at the beginning of the second campaign because the getaway method in the first campaign didn’t work out. Additionally, when you are in the safe houses you will hear banter back and forth between everyone. Ellis will be remembering how everything was before everyone was infected and be describing how things used to be for him. The rest of the team have to keep telling him to keep quiet and concentrate on the matter at hand. That type of interaction definitely helps as you get to know these characters more and more as you progress through the game. The variety in what you have to do is also quite impressive. At the end of each campaign when you have to get rescued it is always by a different method. In the first campaign you find an empty car and you need to find fuel to get it to run. In the second campaign you have to start a concert to get the attention of a helicopter. In another campaign you will escape by boat and it just keeps going on from there.
Most people who play this title will be playing with friends and the multiplayer, once again, really shines. You have the versus mode returning where you play as the survivors or the Infected and try to take down the other team. Teamwork is crucial here as you will get torn apart if you decide go solo. There was a match where I was able to assume control over one of the “boss” infected. I saw someone run away from their group to do their own thing so I followed him and once he was far enough away from his team I pounced on him and led him to where the other Infected were so we could take him out. There is even an achievement if you can not only stay on someone’s back for twelve consecutive seconds but also if you can do it twice in the same life. There is also Survival mode where you try to hold out as long as you can as well as the new Scavenge mode. Scavenge mode is where you are looking for all of the gas cans in the level if you are part of the Survivors so you can escape or trying to prevent that from happening if you are on the Infected team. Up to eight players can play at once with each team alternating being between a “Survivor” and an “Infected”. One of the things about this mode that some gamers will appreciate is how quick the games can be. Going through a whole versus round could take between 1-2 hours at times, however, with Scavenge the game goes much quicker, which is definitely appreciated. Another addition that was made to this title is the “Realism” mode. This mode features you going through the campaign missions online with friends, however, the game is more “realistic”. What that essentially means is that items won’t glow and neither will your teammates so it is harder to find them and things of that nature.
Overall this is another incredibly polished game by Valve. I know there were a lot of people worried because of how quickly this sequel came out, however, Valve seems to have hit a home run with this one. The campaign levels are a bit longer, more difficult and overall designed better. They added some great new features to the multiplayer component of the game which should keep Left 4 Dead fans busy for a very long time. If you were a fan of the original title you will undoubtedly enjoy going through this title as well. The new cast of characters is fantastic and the dialogue between them often made me chuckle. The variety in the environments and in what you have to do is fantastic. There are a lot of titles out there right now for gamers to choose from but be sure to give this game a try. If you are a fan of the original you will want to play this one as well. If you are new to the series you are in for a treat.