Developer: Valve Corporation / Publisher: Valve Corporation / ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language) / Played on: Xbox 360 / Price: $29.99
Today on Pay, Rent, or Pass we are taking a look at the brand new zombie survival sequel Left 4 Dead 2. Specifically today, we are looking at the Xbox 360 version of the game. Now, valve surprised gamers everywhere when it was announced that this game would be released almost a year after the original. The question that has been on everyone’s mind is does the sequel pack in enough new content or is this a glorified piece of DLC? Let’s find out.
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Left 4 Dead 2 doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It’s the same game you remember from the first time around with some new additions. Players take control of one of four new survivors to try and make it through the zombie apocalypse. Coach, Ellis, Nick, and Rochelle are the four new choices for players. Nothing new in the way of a class type for these characters, basically just different looking people with new lines of dialogue. Why didn’t Valve add some sort of specialty skill to these characters? I don’t know. This game is all about communication with your teammates if you don’t talk to your team you are going to die. You have to work as a team to make it through so if you are the type of gamer that doesn’t like chatting online L4D2 is probably not for you. This time around Valve added in some new zombie types to up the challenge of the game. Players will now encounter the Spitter, a zombie who hurls giant globs of acid liquid at survivors. Also new this time around is the Jockey, a pesky little zombie that will jump onto survivors’ backs and control the way they move, and finally, the Charger, who does just that, charges survivors and then smashes them into the ground until rescued. On top of the new zombie types there are also five new campaigns for players to blast their way through.
All of the levels take place in the American Southeast and some of them are extremely memorable. Dark Carnival and Hard Rain are the two that stood out for me the most, one taking place in an infected, infested carnival and the other in a marshy, abandoned neighborhood in the middle of a torrential downpour. Left 4 Dead 2 has its standard modes of play from the first title. Versus, Survival, and online co-operative play modes are all back. In addition to the standard issue modes, Valve has included a few new modes of play as well. Scavenge mode pits two teams of four against one another. One team is made up of survivors collecting cans of gas while the other team is made up of the infected. This mode can be a lot of fun to play on either team, I prefer playing on the infected side. The game feels more balanced this time, the new zombie types can provide some new and interesting tactics for the infected to separate the survivors. The other new mode in L4D2 is called Realism; this game type takes away all of the glow around any type of item pickups which really adds to the difficulty of the game. You will really need to be communicating with your team if you hope to survive this mode.
Left 4 Dead 2 also has a variety of new weapon types and items for players to use to fend off the infected. Incendiary ammunition, boomer bile in a can, adrenaline, and a defibrillator are some of the new items players can expect to be using. The new weapons in the sequel are really fun to use. There is a wide array of new melee weapons at players’ disposal, things like electric guitars, frying pans, chainsaws, paddle bats and even katanas. I found myself using these way more frequently than the actual guns in the game. They just feel more effective. The new gun types all feel very similar to one another with the exception of the grenade launcher. This is a great new addition to the weapons in the game but can be a little dangerous as the explosions can damage your teammates.
The graphics in Left 4 Dead 2 look great. The levels are all highly detailed and the new zombie types all are visually distinct from one another. It’s interesting though, because the game does look very similar to the first. It doesn’t seem like too much was upgraded in the graphics department from the first game to the second.
This is a great part of L4D2. The sound in this game really contributes to the overall sense of dread that players will feel while taking on the infected. Whether it’s the witch and her sobbing, the great voice acting and conversations between the survivors, or the sound effects and music that kick in when a horde of zombies starts attacking, the sound in Left 4 Dead 2 will put players in a place of terror.
This is always one of my biggest complaints when playing a title like Left 4 Dead 2 on a console. The controls feel very loose. I feel like sometimes when I would go to aim at a zombie the sights would go too far. This is one of the reasons this title, in my opinion, is superior on a PC with a mouse and keyboard. It may just be a preference, but I can say that there is a noticeable difference, at least for me, while playing.
Now all of these new additions sound great, but while I was playing Left 4 Dead 2 I have to admit it just doesn’t feel different enough for this to be considered a true sequel. It’s more in the vein of downloadable content. Five new maps, two new gameplay types, some new zombies and a few new weapons. Just doesn’t seem like the game elaborates on the first enough. Why not introduce character class systems for the survivors? Or even just a special ability? It seems like the team at Valve rushed to get something out to gamers who were foaming at the mouth for more L4D goodness. Now, I’m not saying that Left 4 Dead 2 isn’t a great game… it is. I just can’t say that it’s worth the full price tag of a sequel. That’s why for me Left 4 Dead 2 is a rent. Commenters go ahead and commence hate-filled comments.