The dead have risen to seek the blood of those that precede their rotting flesh. On June 1, 2009, Valve Software officially announced the birth of Left 4 Dead 2, sequel to the premiere horror 28 Days Later inspired Left 4 Dead. Valve Software created an exceedingly decent title with Left 4 Dead despite the issues of repetition and no story arc back in November of 2008, and seeks to improve upon various aspects left unfinished. Left 4 Dead 2 is the aegis to Valve and their ambition to create an extremely unique experience that has never been accomplished prior to the Left 4 Dead series, bringing horror and survival together to form a whole new definition in the realm of cooperative gaming action. Uniting a mysterious player and three other unsuspecting and horrified friends together, Left 4 Dead 2 makes sure players are at the edge of their seats not knowing what to expect next, making sure players use their eyes and ears to their fullest degree in order to survive the horrific zombie onslaught. Try not to blink or it may be your last breath.
Exactly a year after the release of Left 4 Dead, the sequel gallantly presents itself from the brushes. Although the arrival of Left 4 Dead 2 was rather speedy, Valve has managed to not disappoint. The initiation of the central plot replaces beloved survivors Francis, Bill, Zoey, and Louis from Left 4 Dead with newer more savvy characters in Left 4 Dead 2: the buff Coach, a yokel Ellis, a charming and charismatic Nick, and the epicurean Rochelle. These new characters all bring very unique personalities to the table and are the central components that bring Left 4 Dead 2 to life, as the level of interactivity that takes place between the characters during your playthrough make the experience intense. Without these emotions and without these character survivors, Left 4 Dead 2 would be very grim without a context or setting. The cleverly written and very believable characters bring out the inner survivor in everyone within Left 4 Dead 2 and the zombie tyranny across the globe.
Left 4 Dead 2 brings the mayhem with different characters into newer environments. Left 4 Dead 2 offers five new campaigns within Campaign Mode, each with their own set of challenges to go though: Dead Center with four chapters, Dark Carnival with five, Swamp Fever with four, Hard Rain with five, and The Parish with five as well. Altogether, there are a total of 23 levels to be played and are spread across five campaigns with various scenarios as described by the names of the levels to emanate various qualities about each environment for the campaigns. Each of these campaigns all offer very distinctive settings for players to survive in and are more detailed than the prequel.
While you continue fighting off more hordes of zombies in Left 4 Dead 2, you will quickly notice that the gore level has been increased by quite a bit and more detail has been put into the annihilation of the zombies. The level of detail within the campaign modes and the gameplay is the first thing to notice. Left 4 Dead 2 effects for the most part seem very much the same, with very little improvements through the game. Some of the effects have been improved for the better such as the Boomer bile, evidently also making it harder to see through.
Gameplay additions run rampant in Left 4 Dead 2 as much as the zombies in every campaign. Left 4 Dead 2 includes the introduction of Uncommon Common Infected. These new infected are part of the common infected, but are not as common, thus the name “Uncommon Common”. These new enemy A.I. types include Bulletproof Zombies, unable to take damage from the front as they are decked out in riot gear, Zombie Clowns with their loud clown attire prone to attract nearby common infected when in motion, and a variety of others. These new Uncommon Common infected changes the gameplay dramatically. If a player is on the ground and unable to move while being relatively far away from your team, then a Bulletproof Zombie would be the last thing the character would want to see, as he could do some very serious damage. Luckily with Left 4 Dead 2’s incredible A.I. Director, this is more than likely to happen. While new types of zombies are plenty in Left 4 Dead 2, the Uncommon Common Infected are only found in their own specific campaigns and are just a useful model by which Left 4 Dead 2 increases the action.
Left 4 Dead 2 comes with a gigantic set of new weapons ready to tear limbs of blood-thirsty zombies ready to vivisect brains. The same tier progression system from Left 4 Dead is still present: players are rewarded with better and more powerful weapons as they advance deeper into the campaign. All of the weapons from Left 4 Dead have returned, and in Left 4 Dead 2 are accompanied by a much larger variety: Grenade Launchers, Desert Eagles, AK-47s, SPAS-12s, FN Scar Assault Rifles, Suppressed MAC-10s, and Chainsaws are all patiently waiting to be picked up by the survivors. Yes, that is correct: Chainsaws. Left 4 Dead 2 includes improved melee weapons for a new twist. Melee weapons fill the secondary weapon slot, which happens to be pistols, so players have to choose between pistols or melee weapons. Melee weapons allow players to swing away and chop the zombies up as if they were professional chefs in the world’s nastiest restaurant. Melee weapons include but are not limited to: Fire Axes, Baseball Bats, Cricket Bats, Katanas, Guitars, and Crowbars. Although cutting zombies up in Left 4 Dead 2 never gets old, it gets rather bothersome as the difficulty level goes up. This is mainly due to the fact that you are bound to take a few slaps to the face from the infected while using a melee weapon, and if you are playing in Expert mode, one hit could very well cost you the whole game. The balance with new weapons and the difficulty level of Left 4 Dead 2 is incredible despite some minor issues and remains better off than the prequel in a blood infested action rampage.
Weapons are hardly the only things used for survival. Along the path of Left 4 Dead 2, players will find themselves reminiscing about new and evolved tools to further aid the survivors. Laying around the new campaigns, survivors will find defibrillator units to revive one of your dead survivors and vials that contain Boomer bile which attracts nearby zombies when thrown, and makes them attack whoever the bile is on, whether it is the infected or the survivors. In a way, with the vial of Boomer bile in hand, Left 4 Dead 2 allows players to be a kind of mini- Boomer for the group of survivors, creating an interesting new perspective to gameplay and character interaction. The third and last new aiding tool in Left 4 Dead 2 is the adrenaline shot. These take the slot where the pain pills go in the inventory, and are very similar to the pills. Like the pills, the adrenaline shots should only be used in emergency situations. The adrenaline shots provide the survivor that uses it with a temporary boost in speed. All of these new additions to Left 4 Dead 2 will force players to think their plans even more thoroughly before moving into the zombified world, where zombies are the least of their worries compared to resources.
While Left 4 Dead had the legendary A.I. Director that created a different experience every playthrough, Left 4 Dead 2 now has an improved version: the AI Director 2.0. The improved AI Director now makes every playthrough even more different than before by being able to change the weather dynamically, change the lighting to reflect different times of day, or even alter the path you have to take through each campaign depending on the zombie size. Left 4 Dead 2 makes teamwork essential to fighting a way out to rescue.
Left 4 Dead 2 would be bewildering without the included 7 gameplay modes: Single-player, Campaign/Cooperative Mode, Scavenge, Versus, Survival and the most requested Realism Mode. Realism mode is the center of attention: garnering over being the most requested feature according to Valve. The only thing that can be said of Realism Mode is this: extremely tactical and complex communication that SWAT uses will not be enough to survive this mode. In a nut shell, Realism mode is the great grandfather of the Expert difficulty. Realism mode is not a difficulty setting; rather it is a new game mode, and just like the Campaign mode, it can be played in four difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, Advanced, and Expert. Realism mode removes some of the features that aided players in surviving the Campaign mode, and in the end makes the gameplay much harder. Modifications include the removal of the very helpful and color coded character outlines, the names above players, the microphone indicator above players, and the ability to come back to life through closets. The infected also pose more of a challenge since they take less damage all together. All of these changes make it almost absolutely impossible to survive any of the campaigns in Realism mode without all four players having a microphone. Just like the saying goes: you do not know what you have until you lose it. The first time you play Realism mode, players will surely be lost within minutes, having no outlines and no indicators but do not be ashamed of this fact while frantically running around to find the rest of your group. After players understand how Realism mode works, communicating with fellow survivors a lot more than the Campaign mode becomes easier and the Realism mode starts to become more fun, while at the same time almost feeling like a whole different game.
Realism is not the only new game mode in Left 4 Dead 2. Scavenge mode is also new to the series. Scavenge mode puts up to eight players into four versus four competitive and round-based matches, where the survivors have to scavenge around and find gas cans to refuel a gas generator located in each map while fighting off the infected and racing against the clock. Every gas can the Survivors empty into the generator add up into points and at the same time adds time to the clock. The infected on the other hand get to play as the boss infected just like the Versus mode, and fight to stop or stall the survivors as much as they can. Like the Versus mode, the teams of four get switched back and forth between the survivors and the infected after each round.
The complete highlight of Left 4 Dead 2 is definitely the three new special infected. Introducing three more playable special infected on top of the four old ones to the equation ends up creating a completely different experience, since most of your old strategies will no longer work. The new special infected includes: the Spitter, the Jockey, and the Charger. The Spitter is incredibly useful and nasty when paired up with any of the other special infected. She spits out a large puddle of fizzy green goo that deals massive amounts of damage to any of the survivors over it. Alone however, she is pretty easy to avoid, and is fairly easy to kill. The Spitter is also very good for finishing off any survivor that is down but not yet dead. Unlike the Spitter, the Jockey can be pretty annoying for the survivors if he is alone. The Jockey is able to jump onto any of the survivor’s backs and slowly steer their character away from the rest of the group and in any direction they want. This can be pretty game breaking if the survivors are not paying attention. When paired up with the right special infected like the Boomer, the Jockey can be very nasty and can lure away one of the survivors and go unnoticed the whole time. The Charger, the last of the three new special infected, can be called the brother of the Tank. He basically charges into a group of survivors, grabs one puny human, and then starts smashing them into the ground to their death. The Charger deals massive damage, and if not taken down in time, can put the survivors at a loss in no time. All three of the new special infected are all very well thought-out are implemented into the game just right. Not too overpowered, and not too underpowered, creating a perfect taste for flesh in Left 4 Dead 2.
Valve decided to modify the models on the old special infected, but nothing too major has been changed. Only minor things like removing the hair of the Tank and changing the clothes of the Hunter have been altered. Also, if anyone sees a female Boomer in the distance while playing Left 4 Dead 2, and think they are going crazy, then think again. The Boomer has two models this time around: one male and the other female. This does not affect the gameplay in any way, shape or form. The Witch has also been modified to wander around during the day and to sit down like in Left 4 Dead, at night. The Witch is now able to wander during the day, but she still does not pose too much of a greater threat than while sitting down.
Valve delivers another quality game once more in the bruised and battered body of the horrific Left 4 Dead 2. It is very possible that witchcraft is involved in the development of Left 4 Dead 2, because it failed to disappoint in more than one way. Left 4 Dead 2 manages to keeps all the great things Left 4 Dead had to offer, and implements even better features with extreme precision and detail. Having a new emotional set of characters to play with, playing through more detailed campaigns to survive in, having two new game modes to play, and having a whole new selection of weapons and tools to blow zombie brains with creates dozens of new challenges to encounter with Left 4 Dead 2. Left 4 Dead 2 is undeniably a must have for any zombie enthusiast, or anyone that loves to not want to sleep at night and still believes in zombies.