Left 4 Dead 2 Review

Another adrenaline shot in the arm for the co-op scene. FPS Gamer’s take on the Xbox 360 version of Left 4 Dead 2.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, November 23, 2009

Topping up the gas in Scavenge mode. Watch out for the Spitter.

Topping up the gas in Scavenge mode. Watch out for the Spitter.

The plot is mostly to be distilled, once again, from the graffiti-laden walls and bust-up businesses and residences which throng your route, but there’s more narrative continuity between campaigns, the climax of one folding (explosively) into the next, and greater nuance to the characters of the Survivors themselves. Much of the in-game dialogue consists of terse heads-ups – “Weapons here!”, “Up this escalator”, etc – but occasional on-the-fly asides like Ellis’s buffoonish anecdotes bring the cast to life in a way cut-scene dependent storylines seldom manage.

Valve has opted to fatten out the first game’s resolutely traditional weapon roster, rather than let its considerable collective imagination run wild. Shotguns now come in several shades, from the double-barreled farmhand’s mainstay to slaughterous 12-buck military Tank-stoppers, and there are burst-fire combat rifles for those who find an AK47 too imprecise. The rarely discovered grenade launcher is predictably devastating – to both the Horde and your comrades, if fired indiscriminately – while the silenced SMG is a solid pick if you’re trying to escape the murderous attentions of a Witch.

The Charger. Definitely too close for comfort.

The Charger. Definitely too close for comfort.

Secondaries now include throwable vials of Boomer puke, which induce fleeting periods of civil war among your attackers, and adrenaline shots, which grant a temporary health and speed boost. Very much the headline newcomers, though, are the melee weapons, encompassing machetes, frying pans, cricket bats and (of course) chainsaws, which can be wielded in place of your inexhaustible pistol. Toss it all together with the odd box of special ammunition – incendiary rounds which set Common Infected alight (not always the best move in cramped quarters), and explosive rounds which knockback the Specials – and Left 4 Dead 2′s arsenal affords a lot more choice within the first game’s well-defined combat parameters.

That much is also true of the Special Infected, who welcome another three grotesques to their ranks in the shape of the Charger, Spitter and Jockey. The Charger combines the Hunter’s surgical strike approach with the Tank’s brute force, battering through tightly knit groups and bearing off individuals to a painful rendezvous with the nearest wall. The Spitter has clearly been designed with the new collect-the-gas-cannisters “Scavenge” mode in mind, rendering the ground around the delivery point untreadable with her corrosive phlegm, but she’s a nasty support unit too, often bathing Survivors in acid as they writhe in a Smoker’s coils. And if that sounds aggravating you’re going to absolutely love the goblin-like Jockey, whose puniness is counterbalanced by the ability to leap astride somebody’s shoulders and steer the poor sod into fires, terrain traps or posses of Common Infected. Each Special has its own little orchestral overture, as before, giving alerted Survivors a brief window in which to prepare an appropriate defence.

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One Response to “Left 4 Dead 2 Review”

  1. anomonous says:

    Ive’ read reviews of the newer games and I must say that left for dead has a more vivid description.


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