Left 4 Dead 2 Review

Reviewed by wytefang | 14 February 2010
Genre: FPS | Publisher: Valve | Developer: Turtle Rock / Valve
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good
  • Immersive audio that positively impacts gameplay
  • Excellent graphics
  • An exceptional good value with tons of content
  • New modes, maps, weapons, and Special Infected are all top-notch
  • Fantastic Co-Op play
The Bad
  • Some Campaign levels are a bit TOO long
  • Familiar match-making & server issues
  • A few bugs

I put in hours of hard work, killing Zombies, to bring you this review of the new Left 4 Dead 2 on PC.

So if you’ve played the original Left 4 Dead and bashed, smashed, and blown apart zillions of Infected (read: Zombies) on your way to successfully completing all 4 original campaigns, why should you be intrigued by the sequel?  Is there enough different about Left 4 Dead 2 to make it a must-buy game?  Has Valve captured lightning-in-a-bottle yet again?  In simple terms, yes.  For a bit more complex look at the reasons, read on…

On the surface, one might be forgiven for espousing some cynicism over the shockingly early announcement of Left 4 Dead 2’s development.  After all, Left 4 Dead 1 hadn’t even had a proper birthday before its successor was revealed.  As the case may be, there was a load of angst among fans that felt that Valve hadn’t offered enough Downloadable Content (DLC) for the first game yet, let alone start working on a new one.

“I swear Murray, if you had half a brain...”

Despite this angst, however, Valve contended that they had too much new stuff to shoehorn into DLC and insisted that it was best served arriving in the form of a standalone sequel.  To that extent, Left 4 Dead 2 offers a tweaked version of the AI director that can not only spawn hungry baddies as needed but can also adjust the map layout, along with equipment and weather in response to the players’ successes or (perhaps more frequently) failures.  In addition to that improvement, all new weapons join the pre-existing arsenal (including the eagerly anticipated melee weapons) along with 3 new Special Infected (the Spitter, the Jockey, and the Charger), 4 new Survivors, an entirely new location (the New Orleans area), an extra campaign (for a total of 5 this time around), and two new game modes: Scavenger (a fetch-and-return Multi-player mode) & Realism (which removes outlines, the hud, and makes zombies much tougher). So it’s seems reasonable to assume that this was enough content to merit an entirely new game.

“I told you once already, I don’t want to hug it out, geez.”

Initially, I was struck by the fact that it does feel remarkably similar to the original Left 4 Dead.  However, just like reading a good book, the depth and intricacy of everything didn’t come to the forefront until after a decent chunk of playing time.  After working through all the campaigns, it became apparent that this game rewards and expects a somewhat more cerebral approach to survival than its predecessor.  In the original game, survivors could circle the wagons in a good spot and rely on their melee bashing in the front ranks, supported by ranged support from behind.  With Left 4 Dead 2, gun-based melee-bashing is on an ever-increasing delay-timer – the more you bash, the longer it takes to reset your bashing.  This forces players to experiment with the new melee weapons (guitar, baseball bat, machete, katana, night-stick, or frying pan) and they’re both more enjoyable and more useful than you’ll initially realize.  The katana and machete, in particular, are excellent for rapidly finishing off large amounts of encircling foes.

It’s not just weapons that change the playing field, however, as the new Special Infected also have a potent effect on how the Survivors play.  The Spitter’s ranged acid attack forces players out of their deeply-entrenched corners and into the (more dangerous) action.  The Jockey, who jumps onto and takes over a Survivor, driving him away from safety, helps distract the survivors and split them up. Finally, the Charger, if able to slam into a Survivor, can also violently separate the players. It seems obvious that Valve’s primary goal with this sequel was to further segment groups while forcing them to join the fray and they’ve definitely achieved this goal.

“I can recommend a great Chiropractor.”

Despite the new melee weapons and Special Infected, the campaigns themselves will throw a few new tricks at jaded, experienced players.  Rather than facing the usual cut-and-dried mid-game Crescendo events where Survivors can kill off all the Infected before moving forward, Left 4 Dead 2 provides Crescendo events with an never-ending supply of rabid zombies until you trigger some sort of safety valve.  To overcome these incredible odds, players are expected, if not required, to utilize the utmost cooperation possible. While I didn’t think it was possible, this sequel offers even more exciting and challenging Campaign Finales, as well, throwing some seriously tricky wrinkles into the mix and keeping players firmly on their toes if they hope to survive.

“Honestly, you really need to do something about your nails.”

The multiplayer aspects of Left 4 Dead 2 are still just as fun as ever with the new Scavenger game stealing a bit of the limelight from Versus mode.  This new multi-player format has players rushing out to acquire gas cans to fill a generator while being hunted by their Infected foes. It’s a bit more frenetic, in that regard, than vanilla Versus and requires very careful cooperation.  Needless to say it’s a blast.

Graphically and audibly, this game looks and sounds as fantastic as the original and improvements in these regards are subtle but appreciated.  Fire effects, for example, seem more vibrant while the newly added weather can be incredibly cool. The Hard Rain campaign, in particular, showcases a jaw-dropping (if you have beefy enough hardware to appreciate it in all its glory) storm sequence that’s surely one of the year’s most memorable gaming moments.

“Oh crap.”

However L4D2 still doesn’t provide a normal Server Browser for players, which is a bit of a disappointment and the Friends concept still works a bit strangely in that you can be stuck with Friends of your Friends showing up, leading to confused confrontations at best or Griefers at worst.  It seems odd that Valve provides a Friends match-making feature and then doesn’t stick to your immediate Friends but instead casts the net out to a second-tier. It’s not a deal-breaker but it can lead to some annoying situations from time to time.

“Oh, it’s a roller-coaster alright.  A roller-coaster of Death.”

All told, though, this is the best kind of sequel – one that builds and layers onto what was previous enjoyed while offering loads of new content. Whether you’re a zombie fanatic, a Co-Op gamer, or just a huge supporter of the original game, Left 4 Dead 2 offers something for everyone, engaging both the fun center AND the cerebral core of your collective brains.  Yummm….brains.

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Member reviews

What? - wytefang |
| 14 February 2010

No reader reviews yet? Nothing?? :( All those hard-fought, last-minute escapes from being eaten, all those special infected killed, just to bring you, my awesomely great TOGGERS this review and no one has any feedback for me! SHEESH! TOUGH CROWD!! :P

Left 4 Dead Too.. - Salgurdar |
| 14 February 2010

Nice review. You liked this game a lot which comes through in your review. Quick review. I found the game seemed to lack something , that certain "je ne sais quoi". I also found it slightly too consolified. There are certain aspects of the game that were executed beautifully, such as the new infected, the weather effects and the new crescendo events. The new maps were either too long or too short for my liking, they are also not very hunter friendly with only a couple of exceptions, forcing you to climb the map boundaries to get a 25 pounce (something I don't like because it detracts from the immersion). The other issue for this game is the Australian version being censored (I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy from a friend overseas), this is a big blow for the game in my eyes, most of my friends ended up with a censored version, which they rarely play now because of the sterile environment you end up with in that version of the game.

Sheesh - impatient you are - hoppy |
| 15 February 2010

I agree with what you have said about the game. The melee weapons add an extra dimention, but the game play is still fairly much the same as L4D. The scavenger option is ok, but only 1 round in the story. Agree with Salgurdar, not a lot of opportunity for hunters and boomers are next to useless with very minimal nooks and crevasses due to the extensive outdoor maps and the bloody noise they make. But a good game for some laughs with mates. As long as it isn't the Aussie version.

Rating - hoppy |
| 15 February 2010

Opps forgot to rate the damm game

Thanks - wytefang |
| 15 February 2010

Good to hear some other viewpoints - just to clarify my stance on the review score...I don't review it solely based on a particular issue for MP (such as 'the maps aren't great for specific special infected to pull of a particular move or attack') - I have to take the entire big picture into account. In light of the entire package, I felt it was a worthy 4.5 game. :) Hope that makes sense. I think that most players probably don't even spend all that much time in Vs. mode (like many of us do)...and as such, this review score would reflect how much they may enjoy the game in that regard. Hope that makes sense! Cheers!

Good work - Jakob_Pavlov |
| 16 February 2010

Nice review again mate......making me realise that it's been too long since I fired up L4D2. :( So many good games.....so little time! :(

Not the aussie version? - Ringo |
| 18 February 2010

I steered clear of this game after it was molested by the OFLC... but I would really love to play it after reading this. I'm assuming this review was based on an OS version? On this topic, does anyone have a suggestion for a good place to get this game in all its uncut glory?

I can help - wytefang |
| 19 February 2010

Ringo, If you can paypal me the funds, I'll buy it and ship it to you on my dime. Best regards, Tony : ) PS. You'll need to PM me your mailing address though (of course). :)

- Asolar |
| 10 March 2010

Dint play L4D1 but heard enogh about it to buy L4d2 and its a great fun game. It keeps you on the toes all the time, and it demand a good amount of teamwork. Grafik and sounds are great, and i like the humor in it to. Can only recommend it to everyone. Good rewiev mate

- chrome |
| 16 March 2010

There is actually a server browser in the game, you just need to pull it up from the console. openserverbrowser Just need to enable the console. Another method: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1041381 The only problem with doing this is that you can't choose the character you want to play and can't set things the way you want it before you play. You can however vote map changes and difficulty changes. Once the game finishes, you'll be booted back to the main menu, rather than a game lobby.

| 15 April 2010

Really nicely put together Love all the screenshots terrific story Great to have something new to read Well done

| 15 April 2010

forgot to rate it too early not enuff coffee yet

Thanks! - wytefang |
| 27 April 2010

Thank you for the kind words, Carnaldestruct. :)

csnkjd - csnk |
| 29 May 2015

I agree with what you have said about the game. The melee weapons add an extra dimention, but the game play is still fairly much the same as L4D. The scavenger option is ok, but only 1 round in the story. Agree with Salgurdar, not a lot of opportunity for hunters and boomers are next to useless with very minimal nooks and crevasses due to the extensive outdoor maps and the bloody noise they make. But a good game for some laughs with mates. As long as it isn't the Aussie version.clothing manufacturer

- peterstrong |
| 11 July 2016

Very fond of, I have been looking for

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