Last year, the original L4D rocked my socks hard as the ultimate zombie game. Gathering up three of your friends and attempting to survive the zombie apocalypse made it one of the best multiplayer experiences ever conceived. However, many also felt the game was a bit light on content.
Just one year later (and to the surprise and dismay of some) Left 4 Dead 2 arrives in stores with five new campaigns, four new survivors and a bevy of upgrades. For the most part, I feel like Valve has this down to a science.
At its core, L4D2 is what I wanted out of the first game. The core of what made the original is still here, augmented with a number of improvements. There are more campaigns, more guns, more special infected and more to enjoy.
The game comes with 5 campaigns, one more than the last and each chapter is generally longer than chapters from the first game. The new weapons do a great job of spicing things up, especially the melée weapons that are great up close and the grenade launcher that requires you to change your play style when you have it in your hands. Multiplayer is much more fleshed out with all of the campaigns being available for multiplayer as well as a bunch of new multiplayer modes.
For fans of the series and newbies alike, this package has a lot to offer and makes the old game pretty much obsolete. However, there are a few gripes I have with the game that keep it from perfection.
One of these gripes is more of a personal one. I really miss the original characters. Even though their absence from the sequel doesn’t change the gameplay, I’ve grown attached to the original cast and the new cast just doesn’t have the charm.
A gripe that does affect the gameplay is the difficulty balance. At normal difficulty, this game feels notably harder than the first, and at times downright cheap. There are times where you’ll get rushed by a horde, boomer, spitter and hunter at the same time or some other combination that leads to insurmountable odds. A patch has been announced that supposedly includes some balance tweaks, so this may not be the case in the future.
Compounding these issues are your AI partners, who are dumber than doorknobs. They seem to have amazing accuracy when they decide to shoot, but they’re prone to watching you get owned by a special infected for a while before deciding to help you out. In fact, they’re even worse than your AI partners in the original. Try your best to play this with some friends and bypass the friendly AI completely.
In the wake of Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2 still manages to provide a FPS experience worth playing and easily surpasses the original as the ultimate zombie game. If you’re looking to run through the zombie apocalypse, there’s no better way to do it.