Review by Omisan771

"Still a good game, but also a disappointing sequel"

I played the first Left 4 Dead for months. That game accomplished perfectly what many "zombie mods" tried to do before. The 4 playable characters were fantastic, the gameplay was intense (especially on expert setting) and the ambiance was great.

Only a year after the release of Left 4 Dead, here comes Left 4 Dead 2. A game which supposedly brought so many changes that it couldn't be an upgrade to L4D. What are the improvements? Melee weapons, new items, slightly better blood and gore animation and 3 new special infected. That's it.

The melee weapons are fun to use, but they get boring quickly once you realise that they are basically all the same except for the chainsaw. Also, they force you to get up close to the infected which nearly guarantees taking damage if multiple infected come at you. This isn't a big deal on normal setting, but on expert you can't afford getting hit by common infected (you lose 20% health per hit). The only real advantage of melee weapons is that they don't use ammunition...but guns are abundant in L4D2. You run into fully loaded second tier weapons everywhere and all the time. It's nearly impossible to run out of ammunition for your main weapon.

The new guns are alright. My only complaint would be that the old M16 skin from L4D was not upgraded and looks low-res compared to the new ones. The pistols also feel clunkier than before.

The gore and blood effects have been improved, but other than that, the graphics are about the same as they were in L4D. The Hard Rain campaign shows off some nice rain effects though.

L4D2 introduces new items to help the survivors; boomer bile, adrenaline syringe, defibrillator, laser sights, explosive and incendiary ammunition. The laser sights and ammunition upgrades are very rare and barely useful. The ammunition upgrades replace the health pack in your inventory until you deploy them. Then everyone can have one magazine of the special bullets. It's rarely worth it. Like the guns, the rest of the items spawn in huge quantities everywhere in the game. You'll run into more pipe bombs, molotov and boomer bile than you'll ever need. Same goes for the health pack, adrenaline and pills. The items simply don't feel as important and precious as they did in L4D.

The gameplay is mostly identical to L4D, except that the "new" director seems to spawn more common infected. The original game managed to strike a good balance between crowded areas and quiet ones. In L4D2, it's always crowded and infected hordes are constantly spawning, especially during "gauntlet" events where infected will spawn non-stop until the players have reached a destination. These can be ridiculously hard and game breaking on higher difficulties settings. They are also the only real use for the adrenaline shots, which allow players to progress faster across the attacking horde.

The new special infected feel a bit cartoony, but they do a good job of separating the survivors and the spitter puts an end to closet camping or Shiva stacking. The main defensive strategies used in L4D.

The new survivor characters are not as likable as the original cast and the 5 new campaigns don't feel as epic as the old ones. Most of the game takes place in broad daylight Swamp fever, Hard Rain and the Parish are very repetitive. The scenery never changes from one chapter to another. I miss the huge and impressive locations from the first game like the airport and Mercy Hospital.

The new A.I. for survivor bots and the common infected is terrible to say the least. You simply can't count on the A.I. controlled survivors to help you like you could in L4D. They are very slow to react whenever you need to be freed or pulled up. They ignore common infected that are hitting them and worse of all, they don't move as fast as they should during gauntlet events. In L4D, no matter how fast you moved, the bots would always keep up, now they can't. They stay behind and end up dying. The common infected AI is also weird, they sometimes run backward, sideways or in circles instead of charging the nearest survivor. It's like if they cannot make their mind about who they are attacking and how to get to them.

In the end, while L4D2 remains a good game, it didn't bring real significant improvements to justify a complete sequel. The new items, weapons and special infected could have been added to L4D as a free upgrade while the 5 campaigns and new characters could have been an affordable expansion pack.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 12/07/09

Game Release: Left 4 Dead 2 (US, 11/17/09)

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