The demo for Left 4 Dead 2 was released last week. After the controversy and boycott groups I finally get a chance to see if publishing a sequel not more than a year after the first was a good idea.
Madden and NHL anyone?
Anyone who has played Madden (insert year here), an American football game, or any NHL (insert year here) game on many consoles knows that new versions of these games are released year after year. You could look at these games as simulators. New players are hired to teams in these leagues. Also, players retire, get traded to different teams or they are simply let go. This is the nature of pro sports. This is one of the reasons why new versions of these games are released every year.
Where’s the beef?
The decision to announce Left 4 Dead 2 so early, I think, did not help Valve’s case to justify a sequel a year after the first. This was only part of the controversy surrounding this game. The second part of the controversy was what gamers saw as a promise from Valve to support it by adding new content. What happened instead was the SDK was slow to be released and the only new content released prior to the annoucement was the new game mode, Survival and the one map campaign, The Last Stand.
I tried Survival and I wasn’t that impressed by it and the The Last Stand just wasn’t enough. I was very excited about the release and a little disappointed after the release. The release was free for us PC players so I can’t complain too much – well, just a little… 😀
Sometime after the L4D2 announcement, Valve announced a new two map campaign called Crash Course. This campaign ties together No Mercy and Death Toll. However, while mainly Co-op players like myself can enjoy the campaign, this new campaign was targeted more for the Versus crowd. I wasn’t nearly as disappointed with this release but it still wasn’t enough. Feed me Seymour! Feed me!
Taking a stroll through the French Quarter
The demo starts off with a boat operator dropping off four survivors. Here we get to see our new characters: Rochelle, Coach, Nick and Ellis. Immediately, you can tell that they picked up Nick from a shoot of the remake of Scarface and they dug up Ellis from some crap gas station in the middle of nowhere Alabama.
The drop off point is along the Riverfront, I assume the Mississippi River. At that point, our four new kickers of dead ass can pick up their weapon of choice, a pump action shotgun or a silenced Uzi submachine gun. They can also choose to take a melee weapon and leave their pistol behind. Another survivor can immediately pick up the pistol for dual-pistol goodness. From there, team Rape the Dead make their way into the streets of New Orleans.
I have been able to play the demo quite a few times. In this turn, my team was confronted immediately by the Jockey. The Jockey’s ability is to jump onto the shoulders of any survivor and control them. From there, the Jockey can steer it’s victim into a rushing horde or towards an approaching Tank.
You can tell when a Jockey is coming because it likes to laugh a lot. It’s probably listening to Dice’s The Day The Laughter Died on it’s iPod.
The next special infected we came across was the Spitter. This zombie spits out green acid onto the survivors. The acid burns and deals damage to the survivors. The acid pool is actually quite large and it presents a problem for survivors trying to get away from the pool or survivors trying to revive fallen comrades.
The Spitter is a female zombie and obviously enjoyed Timmy Chan’s fried chicken and fried rice a little too much. I know I did!! She also apparently listened to her mom at one point when her mom lectured her on wearing clean underwear in case you should ever die.
She also makes noises when she is approaching. It’s sort of like a laugh combined with the gargling of liquid.
Of course, we already met the Charger near the beginning of this article. The Charger gets it’s name from charging at it’s intended victim. When it comes, it sounds like a bull. Also, the Charger cannot stop once it begins charging. Meaning that if you pay well enough attention, you can dodge it’s attack. But if you get caught by the charger you will be knocked down and then it will repeatedly pick you up and slam you to the ground until someone kills it.
The purpose of the Charger is apparently to keep the survivors on their toes. Once of the tactics of players playing as survivors is to sit in a group during the time when the horde are attacking. The Charger can be thrown in to knock the group over like bowling pins. This will split them up and distract them long enough for the attacking horde to actually become a serious problem.
The older special infected are also around. They have been made over a bit but I have not been close enough to them to actually notice. However, Valve has created a female Boomer as variety. This was a nice touch. Women can be Boomers too ya know!
There are also new horde members that Valve has thrown in for our amusement, the one that we get to go against is the infected S.W.A.T member. I won’t let those who haven’t played this wait, you cannot kill it by shooting it’s front. Knock it back with your weapon and shoot it in the back.
There are a couple more new horde members, a clown zombie and a protective suit wearing zombie. The protective suit zombie apparently can withstand fire which could make it a problem for those expecting a wall of fire to protect them. Unfortunately, we see neither of these two in this demo.
Valve has thrown in new weapons along with the multitude of new zombies. You get to see a few of them in the demo. The normal pistol, which is my most used weapon in Left 4 Dead, has received a make over. Along with the Uzi, pump action shotgun, M-16, auto-shotgun and sniper rifle from Left 4 Dead, you can expect to see the silenced Uzi, Ak-47, combat shotgun, what looked like a Desert Eagle pistol and a newer sniper rifle I haven’t tried yet. It looked like a semi-automatic rifle. You can also pick up melee weapons such as the electric guitar, frying pan and machete in the demo. They deal quite a bit of damage to the infected when you use them so, they make up for the fact that you have to drop your pistol in order to pick up a melee weapon. I tried the guitar last night, it was wonderful! 😛
Detrimental to your health
Along with the red med packs and the pills you can also pick up adrenaline shots and a defibrillator. In case you never saw Pulp Fiction, shooting yourself with adrenaline allows you move faster and act faster. It also makes your eyesight sharper and brighter. It does deafen you a bit.
The defibrillator revives dead teammates. This is an interesting new addition to this game. Now you no longer have to wait till you stumble upon a spawn closet. If you have a defibrillator handy you can simply revive a dead teammate. I have seen this approach in another game I used to play, Battlefield 2. My favorite class was a medic and I had to revive a lot of dead guys with my trusty paddles. Since, I play more of a support role throughout the online games that I play. I might pick this up the next time I play this demo.
Chariots of Fire
Note: Once I get a screenshot of this area, I will post it to this section.
A new alert sequence has been added to Left 4 Dead 2 and you can see it here in the demo. In left 4 Dead, you could prepare yourself for the inevitable onslaught of the pissed off dead when you move something big or blow up something. However, Valve has mixed things up here. Players, including myself, have grown accustomed to finding a spot and camping there. Using a wall of fire and bullets to get us through the sequence. Now we have to run for our lives. Now if you even stop for a second, your ass is in trouble.
In the second map of the Parish demo, the action sequence is when you reach a safety trailer (it looks like a sealed research trailer). When you close the first door, you will have very little available to pick up before you open the second door. Maybe there will be a couple of adrenaline shots or pills sitting there… but that’s it. As soon as you open the second door you need to run. It’s imperative that you run and shoot. You will run through what looks like an area that was used to keep people in line. You have to run to a large structure where you will have to climb a couple of ladders and run some more to reach the alarm button. Once the button is pressed, the alarm will shut off. But before that, the alarm stays on and the horde keeps attacking. This is, in my opinion, an awesome addition to the game and it is much needed.
This game looks just as if not better than the first game. The one thing that I wanted to point out is that when you deal damage to a zombie, you might shoot an arm off but it keeps coming. If you tear through it enough, it will expose the innards of the zombie for the world to see. This is a really nice touch to the game. However, in Australia, this has caused a problem with a government that apparently still believes that only kids play video games. You can read about that at Kotaku.
Like a lot of other people, I was put off by Valve announcing a sequel to Left 4 Dead so early. They had hardly put out any content. Why couldn’t they have just added the new characters, weapons, infected and campaigns to the original Left 4 Dead? I still don’t know the answer to this question. I understand that a company needs to make money in order to survive. However, I think in the future anyone working for Valve should be careful when they say someone that might be construed as a promise to all of the people that buy a game.