I admit, I wasn't too high on Left 4 Dead before the game was released but the demo got me hooked and I've been playing it constantly ever since. A majority of my nights after I put my son to bed was spent killing zombies with three strangers. It's one of the very few games I play online with people I don't know as it's a different experience each time with how people play as a team as well as the AI Director changing things around. I was really surprised to see Valve Software come out with a sequel so soon after the release of the first game but here we are with four brand new survivors, new Special Infected, new gameplay modes, and some updated graphics.
Left 4 Dead 2 tells the tale of Rochelle, Coach, Ellis, and Nick. Rochelle's a female news reporter, Coach coaches high school football, Ellis is a mechanic, and Nick is a gambler. The setting is now in the south where you'll fight through New Orleans and Georgia to name a few places. While the first one was connected very loosely between the four campaigns with Crash Course actually bridging campaign 1 and campaign 2, Left 4 Dead 2 actually features a story throughout the five campaigns. You'll still play through four or five levels in each campaign with an end sequence but there have been some improvements to make this game stand out from the previous installment.
The first campaign set in a mall has an end sequence that requires a lot more teamwork to succeed. No longer are you fighting off two rounds of zombies before you reach an escape vehicle. Oh, some campaigns still have that but in Dead Center, you're now taxed with filling up a car with 13 gas cans scattered throughout the three levels of the mall area. There are a few strategies to try and finish this one but if your team doesn't work together you can pretty much kiss your life goodbye. The zombie hordes aren't as numerous in this one but they do keep coming at you so you are better off finishing it as soon as possible. What was hinted at with Crash Course's final where you had to do a little task has been expanded here making it a chaotic experience that's really fun to play. Hard Rain features some great weather effects where the storm can get mighty strong at times limiting the amount of distance you can see ahead. Its unique feature is that you ran through the map in each direction. You start out heading towards a gas station to pick up some gas cans and then run back to signal the boat for rescue. The Parish's signature event is a run across a bridge to an awaiting helicopter. Of course, cars litter the roadway and the bridge isn't exactly in the best of shape. The tanks are pretty dangerous in this one as they can fling cars at you causing you to be down in one quick hit. Valve has tried and mixed up each campaign to play a little differently making it a more diverse experience, which I do appreciate.
One of the big additions to Left 4 Dead 2 is the use of melee weapons. In the first game, you could only push off but here you'll get an assortment of items to use against the zombies. You'll have to give up access to your hand gun though to do so but I feel it is worth it at times. The reason being is that like the Versus mode in Left 4 Dead, you can't constantly push back the zombies in co-op mode anymore. After a certain point, you'll stop and have to rest before you can push off again. That's where the melee weapons really become beneficial as you can swing those constantly without tiring out. Also, you're pretty guaranteed a kill on a regular zombie with most melee weapons equipped. It does seem items such as a frying pan, cricket bat, or baseball bat don't kill as often as say a machete or a katana sword so the latter two are the ones I usually choose when the choice is available. Back to the importance of melee weapons in Left 4 Dead 2, with the ability to swing constantly it makes for a pretty effective strategy to sit in a choke point and hack away at the incoming horde and at the same time save on ammunition.
New guns compliment the old ones available giving you more of a variety to choose from in this game. The original guns do appear in the game, but the new ones offer up some nice new choices of weapons to use. The grenade launcher offers some powerful damage but it slow to reload and you can't refill the ammo from caches. One of my favorites is the gun that's very similar to Counter-Strike's SG550 sniper rifle where it's continuous fire and powerful rounds can take out zombies with ease. While some of the guns are similar, you get a more diverse set to play with in the game.
With new guns comes some new ammo that they can use. Taking up your health pack slot, you can carry around a box of incendiary or explosive bullets with your until you want to deploy them. A player can deploy these to the group and each person grabbing some will get a limited number of these bullets to use in their main gun. Incendiary ammo will light those that hit on fire making it a nice one shot kill to regular zombies and doing perpetual damage to Specials before it gets extinguished or it dies. The explosive bullets really help against Specials as they can push them back. The witch is no longer a rushing juggernaut to you as you can make her stumble when you pounce on her with these bullets. It takes a little strategy to know when's a good time to deploy it and the one carrying it will have one less health item to use.
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