41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
That Thing Was Trying to Hump My Head!!!, 20 Nov 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars
Almost exactly one year after the exceptional Left 4 Dead was released, here we are with a full blown sequel. Having played the game all evening yesterday, I can safely say that it is a worthy purchase and adds to the co op gameplay championed in the original.
Left 4 Dead 2 traces a journey from Savannah to New Orleans and introduces 4 new characters into the mix - Coach, Rochelle, Ellis and Nick. They play exactly the same way as the original 4 characters and the controls are the same as well. However, like the original, Valve have managed to create 4 characters that you will warm to the more you play. The humour and continuous dialogue throughout the action injects character into what is essentially a simple premise; Get to the extraction point and shoot all the infected.
This time round there are 5 campaigns to complete and they all have a very different look and feel to the 4 campaigns in Left 4 Dead. The big addition to the campaign mode is the inclusion of guantlet moments, crescendos where you have to move from A to B to stop an alarm or a trigger of some kind to stop the infected horde from hunting you down. You have to move quickly, but moving as a team is more important than running off on your own. These moments add a new dimension to the game and will be tough to get through against a good team on versus. Also, the finales have been reimagined so that you're not just holed up in a cupboard meleeing and shooting in relative comfort. The melee weapons are an excellent addition and once you start using them you will find it hard to go back to Left 4 Dead. Decapitating an infected with a guitar or frying pan will not get old and the occasional use of a chainsaw is what we should expect in a zombie game.
On top of the original special infected from the previous game, we have 3 more that have been designed specifically to break teams up. The Spitter, unsurpisingly, spits a corrosive substance onto the floor that slowly spreads. The usual effect is for the team to disperse into different directions allowing for other special infected to pick off anyone caught on their own. The Charger is a large brutish special infected who will charge straight into the survivors before grabbing one and pummelling them into the ground. Finally, we have the Jockey who will literally jump onto your head and force you away from the survivors. These new additions are superb, but the big change is the way in which they interact with each other. It genuinely feels like they're working as team so it feels like you're up against a human team in versus. For example, a Spitter will spit causing the team to break only for a Jockey to suddenly appear and guide a survivor straight into the green acid. You have to keep your wits about you and always be aware of where your team mates are as you will need them, especially on the higher difficulty settings. It seems that Valve's promise to force teams to crawl over the finishing line rather than blitz through each campaign with ease has been realised.
It is worth noting that you can play any campaign in single player with 3 AI controlled characters. They're ok, but they will occasionally just stand there when you're being molested by a Smoker which can get annoying. Also, you can play 2 player splitscreen and via system link.
On top of this, versus mode has returned and the above inclusions and changes make this mode even more frantic than ever. There is no greater feeling in a game that working with your team mates to orchestrate complete and utter chaos in the opposition with carefully crafted special infected traps. The new special infected compliment the old although they still die far too easily for my liking. Scavenger mode is an interesting addition to the multiplayer aspect that I have yet to try, but it involves retrieving cannisters within a time limit against a team of special infected. Also, Survivor mode is in the game as well.
Overall, it is difficult to find any fault in this game. If you did not like the original, there is nothing here that will change your mind. It is still the greatest co op game in this generation and for those who adored the first, you will find enough variation and additions here to keep you happy. For me, I think it is a superb game that is unique in this generation of consoles as it is a game that rewards genuine co operative play. New special infected, guantlet moments, variations to the finales, uncommon infected, interesting mini games (optional in certain levels), 4 new characters to warm to, more weapons and an exceptionally imaginative achievement list all add up to create one of the games of the year. Valve don't do bad games so get online, hook up with 3 mates and go and shoot zombies in the face - you'll enjoy every minute.