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Wednesday | May 23, 2018
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Left4Dead 2 (PC)

Left4Dead 2 (PC)

Left4Dead was one of the most successful multiplayer games in recent years so it made sense for Valve to follow this up with a sequel …. however a portion of the core audience felt it was a rash move to make one quite so soon. Left4Dead2 we are happy to report however is a fantastic game and improves on the original in many ways.

Left2Dead2 is based around the same ‘zombie style apocalypse’ setting and you play as one of four remaining human survivors who have to shoot their way through various levels of infected undead hordes to reach the endzones. This sequel is based in the American southeast and the new list of characters are more distinctive and appealing this time around. They seem more ‘human’ with their dialogue and comment on various parts of the environment as they struggle through to the climax. Ellis in particular deserves a mention as he is will often go into ‘storytelling’ mode while in the protective confines of the safe houses. Listening to the player interaction is a great addition to the experience.

Left4Dead2 focuses on team work as much as any game I have ever played and if you want to stay alive you need to make sure you work effectively within the confines of the closely knit team. This is even more important when playing online as your team mates need to work as a fully realized team – barking information back and forward over their headsets to keep the battle flowing in their favour. A big focus from Valve has been on the ‘Director’ coding and they do deserve some credit for this artificial intelligence system as it really does work well to ensure that no two games will ever be exactly the same. This obviously encourages people to keep replaying as the AI will adapt to certain situations.

To round out the experience, there are also various difficulty settings and ‘normal’ is a good starting point if you are new to the game but have skills as a FPS player. Veterans of L4D will probably just jump in right away at Expert level, however in single player this is difficult as the computer team mate AI is nowhere near as good as human players communicating over headsets. Left4Dead 2 also has a realism mode which makes the whole thing much more challenging, all the glows are removed over objects for one and the focus on constant communication is massively important to be anywhere close to successful. This required level of communication was always why L4D was such a huge success within the online multiplayer community – many arguments have happened over a specific team member not pulling their weight – but equally so when a team of four people gel well, it is massively rewarding.

Single player mode is actually fun which is surprising, considering the focus on multiplayer – and this is something I wouldn’t have said about the original title. If you play the five campaigns with a friend and he has to leave, the computer AI will take over and you can continue the game without having a virtual character stand like a lemon, forcing a restart. The computer AI is quite impressive and they will shoot well, swap out weapons, revive each other and trade items when needed. It obviously will never compete with a four human player configuration but if you like to play games on your own then L4D2 is actually really worth a look.

Versus mode is great fun with four players running through as Survivors and four more controlling the powerful undead boss characters. Smokers, Boomers, Tanks and Hunters are here from the first game and there are also new creatures such as Chargers, Jockeys and Spitters. There are also new zombie special powers for bosses which add a nice layer of texture to the game flow. Spitters spew forth an acid pool which causes long term damage to anyone who walks into it and the Jockey can take over a survivors direction of movement which can lead to some almost comical situations. There is a massive potential for re playability with all the possible combinations of survivor v undead battles.

Left4Dead2 is paced faster than the original and the game is never a relaxing walk in the park – you rarely get time to even catch your breath, and getting into a safe room can be a great time to recover your senses and use a cloth to soak the sweat from your palms! The campaigns all include defense sequences and attack phases which vary the pacing even further and I would think that any fan of the original game is going to find LFD2 even more appealing.

The campaigns are improved and the environments are more detailed and varied with carnival grounds, construction yards and marshes in the mix. The first game focused primarily on dark city streets and rooms so this is a welcomed addition in the sequel – I wouldn’t have wanted to play the exact same game again in similar environments!

As well as the primary list of weapons such as the automatic guns, sniper guns, pistols and shotguns there are a wealth of incendiary devices and explosive ammunition pickups to play with. There are also melee weapons you can enjoy … up close and personal. The limited use Chainsaw for instance is such fun to play with, I was depressed when I had to switch back to the ordinary weapons again. These melee weapons, such as the Katana and machete replace the pistol when picked up and they are actually really useful for getting out of pinned situations when you are swamped by hordes of undead. Molotov cocktails are still my personal favourite however as the sight of a full screen of undead running around – ‘on fire’ is almost worth buying this game for without considering anything else!

A grenade launcher has been added and it is massively effective at destroying huge teams of zombies heading in your direction – the only issue (and its a big one), is the possibility for friendly fire. If you accidentally drop a grenade in the middle of your team zone you will all end up in body bags, so careful use is really important. There are also gas cans and propane tanks littering some parts of the environment – if you drop a grenade near them, the potential for mass carnage is off the charts.

Scavenge is another mode which will prove popular as it is a 4v4 game with a team of four survivors facing off against four undead. The Survivors have to try and collect gas cans from the environment and put them into a generator -whiile the infected forces obviously have to try and stop this from happening. The best out of three wins. It is a quick paced mode which will appeal to gamers looking for a quick fix rather than a one hour long battle.

The PC version has been very well coded and it is much more intuitive than the Xbox 360 version, which is to be expected considering the nature of the console platform. The game is graphically enhanced when compared with the first – there is an improved lighting system and higher levels of environmental detail. The undead are also slightly more scary looking as the detail on their models is also improved and the character animations are brilliant – while the undead are fast moving, they don’t quite act like human characters in regards to their movements which is a subtle yet important aspect of the design. There are severed limbs, decapitations and bloody pools everywhere you look and if you like gore, then this will be right up your street – it certainly is not Soldier Of Fortune, but its gory enough to make players realise that this is a gruesome and realistic battle between humans and the forces of the undead.

The audio is just as strong as before and Valve haven’t cut any corners with the sequel as there are still a plethora of ambient sound effects and weapons fire from all corners of the environment.

Left4Dead2 is a better game than I thought it would be, while many people will be crying of a ‘cash in’, Valve have really spent a lot of time fine tuning and enhancing the original experience and have updated the engine as well to improve the appearance. The game mode options are also enhanced and the characters are more interesting which aids the immersive nature of the experience. The AI is slightly better than before and while single player is good fun the core of the game is based around team based multiplayer with other humans involved. If you never liked the first one, then this won’t suddenly warm you to the franchise, but for everyone else I suggest you get onto the steam store and make your purchase, it really is a brilliant game worthy of the cost.


Fantastic team work based gameplay, its pretty decent in single player too
Its not a class leading game in regards to the engine, but it runs well on a variety of hardware and still looks very impressive.
Loads of sound effects and voice overs, all professionally handled by Valve.
If you liked the original then this will be sure to hit your playlist for many months ahead.

One of the best team based games this year.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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