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Left 4 Dead 2 demo impressions

by: John -
More On: Left 4 Dead 2
After numerous delays, the Left 4 Dead 2 demo was finally released for the PC a day later. With it comes a two chapter demo of The Parish campaign where the Survivors run through a portion of New Orleans in the daylight. It’s a quick and small taste of what’s to come but what I played really whet my appetite.

Those that played Left 4 Dead will find it very familiar. I won’t go into too much detail as I’m saving that for my full review and you can see my quick gameplay through the 2 chapters. The melee weapons add a new wrinkle to the mix as you have to give up your pistol weapon to wield one. The sound of a frying pan hitting the head of a zombie is quite funny the first few times you hear it and that’s what I used a lot in the first chapter. When the katana becomes available, that’s when you can just let loose cutting through the group like a hot knife through soft butter. Seeing the heads fly off as you swing through gave me quite a nice sense of satisfaction. You can see in the second video of myself wielding a machete and going all Jason Vorhees on the zombies.

Something new is the jar of bile that has the same effect as boomers on humans but turns the tables on zombies when used against them. Tossing one will turn a few zombies as targets for others as signified by the purple outline. After being vomited on and ganged up upon by hordes of zombies, it’s really great to give them their own medicine for once.

You can see some of the new weapons in the videos I’ve posted and my current favorite is the quick action sniper rifle. It reminds me of the SG-550 with the rapid fire capability and large level of damage done on the enemies. You’ll have the old favorites plus new ones that seem to be a variant of an original weapon with a different skin and sound.

Both the original Special Infected as well as the new ones makes an appearance in the game. The old ones actually look a little different and act a little different too. On the second chapter, I was surprised to see the witch moving around crying, which makes her a lot more dangerous than in the first game. No longer can you be sure she won’t be disturbed when you pass by her as she might just wander into your group without you knowing. Each of the original Special Infected get some model and clothing update to change things up.

As for the new ones, the charger seemed to be pretty weak in terms of the amount of damage he can take before he goes down. When he does get up to speed and through your group, be prepared to be a little disoriented as you try and grab your bearings seeing who the charger has in his grip and where you were pushed to.

I have to say being ridden by a jockey is a pretty humiliating experience. Having to fight your way around while he leads you into danger really sucks but I really do think I’ll have a lot of fun with him in Versus mode.

The spitter is weak but you stay in the puddle she leaves behind or get spit on, it's a world of hurt. Yeah, she's similar to an Alien when getting killed as her expulsion becomes dangerous to the touch so you don't want to be up close when she goes down.

There are nice little touches in the levels that make it a little more alive. One example is you can change the record in the jukebox by using it. I was hoping to hear Don't Stop Me Now by Queen but alas I guess I'll have to rely on a mod to get that going.

I also played the demo using NVIDIA's GeForce 3D Vision glasses and they worked OK for the most part. I had to turn down the depth about 3/4s of the way because I was getting ghost images on most everything. Also, the crosshairs sat at a height that was too close to you so focusing on the crosshairs would make the rest of the image blurry whereas in the first one, the crosshairs sat well into the distance making it a lot more useful and not distracting like in the second game. The rest of the 3D effects worked out well though with the illusion of depth in New Orleans and with all the models making it for a fun experience. It definitely works better in the first game right now so hopefully NVIDIA will come out with the settings when the game is released next month to fix a few nagging problems.

The two chapters can be finished pretty quickly as you can see in my video on Normal level but they offer a nice glimpse of what’s to come. You get a taste of all the new Special Infected, melee weapons, and levels that change from one session to the next. Having played through the demo a few times, I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in the Left 4 Dead saga and I hope Valve comes through and makes the November 17th release date.