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anglebender [Celluloid 12.06.09] post apocalyptic zombies review video game



PLATFORMS – Windows (XP & Vista), Xbox 360
DEVELOPER – Certain Affinity
PUBLISHERS – Valve Studios (PC) / Electronic Arts (XBOX 360)
RELEASE – November 17, 2009
ESRB RATING – M
MSRP – US$49.95 PC, US$59.95 XBOX 360

GAMEPLAY – 9
SOUND – 9
GRAPHICS – 9

OVERALL – 9

When the dead arise, only solid teamwork and good frame rates will ensure survival of the species. The video game “Left 4 Dead 2” is the follow-up to the groundbreaking FPS zombie shooter. The flesh-eater apocalypse has spread to the deep southern US, and four survivors with varied backgrounds must fight their way to safety.

I usually don't buy the sequel to a game when it's released a year to the day after the original- it seems to me way too obvious a marketing ploy to be honest. That aside, all the screenshots of gameplay look almost exactly like the original only with sunlight. It looked too much like a downloadable content pack or even a mod for me to think it was worth the money, but I had to see if my “SURPRISE!” hat still worked. I'm glad I replaced the “detect crappage” chip in it. If the original had a few more months of development it may have been as good as this.


GAMEPLAY – 9

This feels a lot more hectic and frenzied than the original. All the levels have more than one way to reach the Safehouse which makes it much less linear and increases the replay value. Random events such as zombie hordes usually occur when things start to get boring. Since the developer of this title used a similar “director” system as in the original, things can go from tranquility to chaos very suddenly. Just when you think “it's quiet... TOO quiet...”, a massive horde will come tearing around the corner of a building at you.

Weapons are scattered throughout each level usually at various areas on the way to the safehouse, presumably left by previous survivors who made it that far. Several new weapons can be found like the crowbar, silenced machine gun and the chainsaw, which is very fun when a queue of zombies throw themselves onto your spinning blade. However, the chainsaw has limited gas so the blood-soaked lemming stampede is limited to how much petrol is in the tank. I wish there was a way to refuel it with the gas cans littered everywhere. You can only carry a single hand-to-hand weapon and a ranged weapon, but it makes sense that survivors travel light and don't carry a diverse arsenal in a backpack.

I'd highly recommend playing through each level in single player so you'll know where the safehouse is. Multiplayer allows access to the “special” zombies of which there are seven different types. In a game with other players, teamwork is as important as in any co-op survival horror game: if you're on the human side, stay together. On the zombie team, spread out. Tactics and strategy get involved, but so long as those rules are followed, you'll usually have a lot of fun. Teamwork and cleverness seem to be more prevalent among console players than PC players. On both platforms, you'll get the occasional over-confident moron who jets away from the group and gets torn apart ten seconds later, or runs right past your screaming and incapacitated form on the ground. This behavior isn't as common with XBOXers, maybe because they are slightly more “hardcore” or maybe because they have their headphones plugged in.



GRAPHICS – 9

The graphics are clean and the texture maps are very detailed. The original looked great, but this looks better. My earlier remark about it possibly looking like a DLC or a mod became unfounded after a few minutes of gameplay. I played this on an xbox at 1080p and it still looks great in lower resolutions, even on older TV sets.

The dark of night can be a boon for graphics because there's a lot you can't see, so that precious processor time is better spent taking care more important tasks, such as making the game fun. In a zombie game, “fun” can be quantified by how uninformed the player is about their environment and how sudden the zombie attacks are. Since most of the game takes place during daylight hours, the sun can spoil some of the danger when a distant teammate is assaulted by a horde of undead: To them it looks like a whole city of death is running at them, but when you can plainly see a Keystone Kops-like conga line of zombies chasing them across a parking lot it might make you laugh. It isn't quite as funny when it happens at the wrong time, like when you're out of ammo, but that's what chainsaws are for. There's quite a few times when a teammate was knocked to the ground and swarmed by reanimated departed, so I waded through them with a katana and managed to let that player have few minutes longer to live. It's always exhilarating when it happens and never gets old.

De-heading a zombie is far messier than a few pixelated blood spatters; it will completely redecorate the side of a van. The gobs of flying zombie-matter created by threatened humans are very spectacular, especially when fire or explosives are involved.

There is a “gore” setting in the options that allows players who might feel offended by the blood to deactivate it, or if someone has to put down zombies while grandma in the room.



SOUND – 9

Like in the original, the music in Left 4 Dead 2 really amplifies the experience. Each of the playable zombies in multiplayer usually have a distinctive sound along with a subtle change in the musical score. Most undead never make any sounds when they're moving so you won't hear them until they attack. The music itself if very ambient and has a slight southern twang to it. Sometimes the human characters will quip a one-liner and their respective in-game model's lips and jaw will move, and while this may be a piddly thing to point out, many trivial details like this only add to the experience and aid immersion.

As with movies, there are infrequent sequels that are better than the original. Because “Left 4 Dead 2” is the sophomore title in the franchise, I expect the inevitable and unannounced “Left 4 Dead 3” to be an improvement, or at least give the player a way to refuel the chainsaw.

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badfrog (7 years ago) Reply

I have been waiting to get this, and just found it for 29.99 (for the PC) and snagged it, can't wait of it to be delivered

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bad dog (7 years ago) Reply

I'm a big fan of this game and its original.

One thing, though: The "zombies" aren't flesh-eating undead, they are people infected with a virus similar to 28 Days Later right down to the vomiting blood.

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Hussman (7 years ago) Reply

This is indeed a fun game. The campaigns are enjoyable and the online play is also a riot. The 'Scavenge' online mode has proven to be surprisingly fun, for such a simple game, and requires total teamwork to be successful.

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Phoebe (7 years ago) Reply

I love the first L4D, and I can't wait to play this one!

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skwirlinator (7 years ago) Reply

I never played the 1st one. THIS is intense and totally immersive. Being able to assume the role of each survivor gives you subtle ability changes and makes replay of the levels interesting. Nice review!

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Nate Balcom (7 years ago) Reply

I love this game! This game picks up where the last one left off. The back story of the characters has a great new twist in game 2 as well. New guns, melee weapons and of course new characters.

http://www.natebal.com/2009/12/17/screenshots-left-4-dead-2/


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