|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Valve||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
June 5, 2009 - Without a doubt, Left 4 Dead was one of the biggest games of last year in terms of online-enabled multiplayer titles. It may have been light on story, but the A.I. Director system that it used as well as the deep co-op aspects of the game made it a winner with multiplayer enthusiasts everywhere.
Although the core mechanics of the game are very much the same, Left 4 dead 2 will include many features that make it worthy of its own release. Among these new features is the A.I. Director 2.0. This new system will take the immersion to a whole other level, with zombies smarter and faster than before, and coming at you in more ways than you ever thought possible.
We were given the opportunity to demo an early level of Left 4 Dead 2 at this year's E3, and the game so far looks pretty impressive. The level took place in a small suburban-esque setting in the south. One big change to the setting was that it was in complete daylight, which definitely provided a different experience. Although I could see my surroundings a little better, it was a little harder to sneak up on isolated enemies, as they are quicker to notice you as well. The vegetation in the level was sparse, which added to the lack of cover, but there were plenty of small buildings and chain-link fences punctuating the landscape that could be used as hiding spots.
The game features four brand new survivors; Rochelle, a TV news personality; Coach, a big-boned sports enthusiast; Nick, a gambler; and Ellis the mechanic. Although the demo we played doesn't give much insight into the different character's backgrounds, I would suppose that more information will be forthcoming in the months before this title's release.
The level starts off pretty much how you would expect, with the four survivors setting out from their safehouse to take on the zombie hordes en route to the next safe area. The terrain was very easy to navigate, and as I was running along with my computer-controlled teammates, I noticed that they were a lot smarter this time. They actually followed the layout of the environment, which in turn helped me from getting lost, which was definitely good thing.
However, even though the character A.I. is a lot smarter, so are the zombies. In a scene where I ran along a chain-link fence, I noticed zombies actively crawling along the top of the fence and attempting to pounce on me. The zombies are also a lot harder to run away from, so if you are low on health, it is much easier to try and fight them rather than just running through, as they will pursue you and probably end up getting the best of you.
The biggest feature that has been included for Left 4 Dead 2 has to be the implementation of new melee weapons. While you could only use your fists in the original, Left 4 Dead 2 allows you to pick up chainsaws and baseball bats, among other things. The only melee weapon that I got to try out was the Axe, but from what I have seen, the melee combat just with this one weapon is mighty impressive.
The axe is automatically equipped as a melee weapon when you pick it up, although you will have to put your gun down in order to use them. You employ the melee weapon by using a melee-keyed button (which is the same from the first game) and the results are devastating. I frequently sent body parts flying as I hacked hordes of zombies with my axe, and even was able to land a few well-placed swings to completely obliterate enemies with just one swing by slicing them in half.
Although the form and function of Left 4 Dead 2 is much in the vein of its predecessor, I can say with complete confidence that this is a whole new game. With new areas, characters, and weapons, I'm not sure what else fans could want from a sequel. The game is projected for release later this year, so it won't be long before we can enjoy hacking and slashing zombies with this undead sequel!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor