|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|
However, if you're looking for a more hands-on approach, then the all-new melee weapons and combat may be more your speed. Whenever you find a melee weapon, you can substitute it for your pistol(s). Then everything from a crowbar to a guitar can be swung with no cool down meter to worry about. In fact, every melee weapon besides the chainsaw, whose attacks are limited to the amount of fuel left in its tank, can be used infinitely without fear of breakage or a finite number of uses. This adds an entirely new dynamic to the game, as hacking your way to a safe room through a horde of zombies just wasn't possible previously.
Melee weapons also come in handy when surrounded by enemies since you can spin in a circle while swinging wildly without having to worry about running out of bullets or having to reload. Although it doesn't really make any logical sense, you don't have to fear not being able to help out teammates once downed when carrying a melee weapon, as you'll still somehow have a pistol with which to take pot shots at attackers in these situations.
There's even more variety to be had in the health department in L4D2. Whereas last time around you were limited to health packs for massive life regain and pills for quicker, smaller, and less permanent health boosts; you've got a few more options here. In addition to pills and health packs, you'll also find adrenaline and defibrillators. The adrenaline is somewhat like the pills; giving you a quick, small boost to health, but in addition they allow you to run and reload faster as well as run virtually unimpeded through zombies who would normally grab hold and slow you down. This can often be the difference between making it to the end of a level and winding up being zombie food. Of course, even if you die, as long as you have a teammate who is still up and has a defibrillator, you still have a chance. This item allows you to essentially resurrect a fallen teammate with half of their health as long as you can find their corpse, all without the aid of using the infection. Again, this new item can completely change the outcome of a level, allowing you to snatch victory from the brink of defeat.
On the other side of things, there have also been some twists and new additions to the opposition. For one, witches can now be found walking around instead of always being hunched over crying. This makes them much tougher to pick out of a crowd of infected. There are also three new special infected that you'll need to worry about in the form of the Spitter, Charger, and Jockey. All three of these new foes are specifically built to help separate well functioning teams in order to add tension to the game. Spitters lay down a decent-sized pool of damaging acid, Chargers plow through the Survivors while keeping the last one hit as a punching dummy, and the Jockey hops onto a single team member and then gains contested control over their movement. These new infected not only make going through the campaign more challenging, but they also add some much needed diversity and spontaneity to the Versus mode, which previously only allowed for Boomers, Hunters, and Smokers.
These new additions to the infected are also put to good use in L4D2's new Scavenge mode. I have to believe that this is the mode many L4D players have been clamoring for. This mode pits a team of four survivors against a team of four infected, much like in the Versus mode, however, the goal is no longer to make it to the next safe room or extraction point. Instead, the survivors will be tasked with feeding gas cans into something that needs fuel, be it a car or generator. Gas cans are located around the map but require some travel to get to and there's a clock constantly ticking down, which can force teams to split off into pairs in order to retrieve the fuel that is necessary to extend this time limit. However, at the same time, the four infected players are doing everything in their power to make sure that the gas tank and timer runs dry. After the time limit runs out, the teams switch and whoever collected and poured the most gas tanks at the end of each round wins (in a single round, best of three, or best of five situation). This mode essentially allows players to get a quick fix of Versus mode without having to sign up for an hour or longer Versus campaign play through.
With all of the great new additions and tweaks for the better found in L4D2, the game has easily earned the right to be a real sequel as opposed to being thought of as little more than an expansion pack. With more modes, weapons, health items, special infected - you name it! - L4D2 feels like a massive upgrade from the original L4D. And truthfully, anyone willing to boycott the game because they think it should have been DLC for the original should be careful what they wish for. If you break all of these additions into separate bite-sized DLC packages, there's probably no way you'd be getting out for less than sixty dollars. This is especially true when considering that the tiny two level campaign and Versus Crash Course add-on set Xbox 360 players back seven bones worth of space bucks. There is no longer time for idle threats of boycotts and should've-beens because now is the time to pick up a fantastic sequel to a great game and spend countless hours dismembering zombies while loving every minute of it.
CCC Staff Contributor