Game Review: Left 4 Dead 2 Demo

4 11 2009

Game Review-L4D2 Demo_PictureYesterday Gold Members of XBOX Live finally got to download the Left 4 Dead 2 (2009) demo. I was among this group, though last week I called GameStop to get the special access code since I pre-order from them but they said I had to walk in to do that, which is a load of crap! Why can’t they just look me up in their computer and give me the damned access code over the phone? Money is tight, and gas can’t be spent to get a darned access code for a demo! I digress. Case and point, I hate GameStop and miss EB Games. The point is, I should have been playing this demo much sooner and I have no idea how I haven’t. Because let me tell you, it’s an extremely entertaining demo indeed.

I’ll admit I was one of those haters when I first heard about Left 4 Dead 2 being released this month. Why? Because the first Left 4 Dead (2008) came out only a year before, practically on the same date.  Why would this anger me? Well, I had put so much trust into Valve. They had made such a spectacular game. I always admire how basic and simple the game was but how strategic and deep it could get. I’ve never played a game where teamwork was at such a forefront. Other co-operatives games hardly compare. Whenever I played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2007) I never felt I was apart of a team, making tactical decisions. I just felt like I was an individual within the group. The teamwork is only voluntary. If someone wanted to help me defend an area, perhaps then there would be some teamwork involved but really, the other players could have been CPU and that’s it. Plus, no one ever talks on the headsets much, aside from speaking insults to each other (or perhaps I’m just playing with the wrong people). However, Left 4 Dead is nothing like this. Teamwork is mandatory.

Left 4 Dead is completely team based. It is nearly impossible, unless you have impeccable skill, to transverse the levels in the game without being slaughtered by a zombie horde. You must stay with your team, or at least in close proximity, the whole time. You could get pounced by a Hunter and he’ll pin you to the ground without any form of counter. A Smoker could hang you and he’ll keep you locked in his tongue. The Witch could throw you down and rip you apart in a matter of seconds. A Tank can use his brute strength to knock you over a building, or put you straight on your ass. Boomers, I’ll admit, probably won’t get you down, but if they vomit on you and a horde comes to eat your brains it could be quite annoying.  But all these can be countered with the help of your teammates. A teammate can smack the Hunter off of you, or shoot him off. A teammate can shoot a Smoker in the head or pull his tongue off of you. A teammate can empty an entire clip on the Witch, just so you won’t die while she’s gouging your eyeballs. And all your teammates will have to shoot at the Tank to bring him down fast. But, if you find yourself wondering alone you won’t survive very long.

l4d_2_zombie

Thus, you’ll find that people online are a lot nicer to each other, especially when they have a Hunter on top of them. You’ll see people trading off pain pills and med kits to each other, instead of hording the items for themselves. That’s the thing that I love the most of about the first game, the comradely that is set between your teammates. You have to get through this apocalypse together.

Wait. What was my original point for all this?

Right! The first game was very near and dear to my heart and for Valve to announce they were coming out with a sequel so soon after the first was a punch to my gut. Valve is not the kind of company to go for the quick buck, what were they doing? When I first heard of their sequel I was thinking along the lines of the Madden series (1989-). Madden fans go out to buy a new version every year even though the game is only updated with a few minor tweaks and updated rosters, which could just be DLC (downloadable content). I didn’t want to become one of those Madden fans. Valve had already announced DLCs for Left 4 Dead, so why were they coming out with a whole new game? Why not just give us those new maps they were creating for the sequel in some good old downloadable content? Is Valve exploiting their fans?

No they are not. And I am a terrible fan for even thinking it.

Why would this company, who has given us such great games, adhering to gameplay over graphics, exploit their fans now? They would not, because Left 4 Dead 2 is no cash cow, it is a true sequel! Valve thinks that and so do I!

This time around we have a new set of survivors (two darkies & two whities): Rochelle, Coach, Ellis and Nick. It made me sad to see that Ellis and Nick were being picked over Rochelle and Coach online (who said racism didn’t still exist). The survivors are now battling the zombie horde in the southern USA: Louisiana and Atlanta type places (bayous and coastal cities). Also there has been an addition to the zombie family as well. Along with the Hunter, Smoker, Witch, Tank and Boomer, there is the Spitter, Jockey and Charger!

The new zombies were all equally scary but the first time I saw the Charger grab a fellow teammate and smack him into the ground was daunting. I hadn’t realized how numb I had felt to the older zombies of the first game. The Tank and Witch, which were probably the most ferocious of them all, no longer scared me any longer. But seeing the Charger and what it could do gave me that excitement I felt when I played Left 4 Dead for the first time. I wouldn’t call the Jockey scary, but he’s more annoying. He basically takes you for a piggyback ride and will steer you away from your team. The Spitter though is quite dangerous; I would even say she is the most dangerous of the bunch. The acid she spits at you will greatly reduce your health. I went form fifty health to thirty health (and I was playing on Normal). The Spitter is especially deadly when your teammates are incapacitated. The acid will hurt them while on the ground and you can’t get to them to revive them or you too will have acid skin. It also doesn’t help much that after you kill the damn thing it leaves a puddle of acid, Alien-style. But you aren’t left without a few tricks up your sleeve for this new bunch of zombies. Left 4 Dead 2 brings on a new slew of weapons and I’m not just talking assault rifles and pistols.

At first, I thought the new addition of melee weapons was a gimmick. In the first trailer there was a huge build up to it and I was really pissed off. Remember, this was when I was a hater. I was really pissed off because all of a sudden I’m hearing they are making a sequel and it seemingly was because they were merely adding MELEE WEAPONS! So what! Just give us melee weapons in the first game! Granted, this was all before I heard about the new scenarios in the game, the new zombies and other new weapons. But man, it is so fun to use melee weapons. My personal favorite is the machete (and probably the katana when I get my hands on it in the full game). There is something so satisfying in dismembering zombies with a sword. The guitar, police baton and frying pan are all well and good, but I never feel safe with any of them. Along with the melee weapons there are some new guns. There is a new Micro-SMG, which I think is silenced, or at least it looks silenced but when you shoot it doesn’t sound silenced. There is also a combat shotgun (very satisfying), sniper rifle vs. the hunting rifle in the first game, AK-47 and grenade launchers. There are more, I’m sure but this was only the demo.

I guess that just leaves me to speak about the gameplay itself and the scenarios. Left 4 Dead did really well with breaking up the monotony of the gameplay with things called the “finales” and “mini-finales” which are when hordes upon hordes of zombies come in to rip off your limbs! In the demo, the mini-finale was to stop an alarm that goes off once you kick open a door. It’s a race to the security tower as zombies alerted to the noise are chasing you, and trust, you will be circled very quickly by the horde.

OMG I’m rambling. This word document is three pages and that’s going to seem like a novel on the blog.  Let me wrap up.

So basically, Left 4 Dead 2 is oodles of fun and is not something Valve is making for a quick buck. In fact, they have made a true sequel with actual updates to gameplay and it’s still tons of fun.

left_4_dead_2_survivors

From left to right: Nick, Rochelle, Coach, Ellis

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

A wretched soul, bruised with adversity,

We bid be quiet when we hear it cry;

But were we burdened with like weight of pain,

As much or more we should ourselves complain.”

– William Shakespeare

Peace & Much ❤

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