This is Scavenger Mode. It rocks.
This is Scavenger Mode. It rocks.

This is Scavenger Mode. It rocks.

Still, if you're struggling to get past a certain section, it will often be because of a problem within your group. Left 4 Dead 2 is very much a team game, and to get the most out of it you'll need three other friendly gamers - because playing alone with the AI is as dull as a milk-flavoured milkshake. Unfortunately, "friendly gamers" can often seem as rare as rocking-horse poo, so ideally you'll be playing with people you know. In contrast with most online shooters, where conversation essentially equates to being screamed at by a 14 year old kid from Kentucky. headsets are all but essential here. I know that 93 per cent of communication is non-verbal, but in Left 4 Dead the only thing your body can say is "Eat lead, sucka!" or "Oh bollocks, I'm dying." Actually, that's not quite true: the four characters here are far more verbose than the previous game's cast, and they'll frequently come out with excellent snippets of dialogue. Still, my point stands.

Aside from the occasional bouts of being irritatingly aggressive, the only criticism I can make of this sequel is that many of its structural changes are minor. I know there's the whole "If it ain't broke don't fix it," argument, but it's still something to be taken into account - especially if you own the first Left 4 Dead. To be fair to Valve, there are now several alternative game styles to play if you fancy a change from the norm. For a start there's a version of the Versus mode from the first game, wherein one team plays through stages as the Survivors while another quartet plays as Special Infected. There's also a Survival mode where teams attempt to last as long as they can against a never-ending wave of threats. But if you're looking for a hardcore challenge, Realism mode is your best bet. Here you play through a chosen scenario as normal, but without any of the visual aids that help you find pick-ups - or indeed your friends, should you get lost. You foes are also harder to kill, and if a survivor dies then they're gone forever. These changes have a surprisingly large impact on the game, to the extent that teamwork becomes essential at all times. It won't be for everyone, but gamers who like a rough ride will get a real kick out of it.

Finally, but by no means least, we have Scavenger - a competitive team game that turns the fuel-based finale of Dead Center into a four-on-four contest. One team is given a limited amount of time to fill up an engine or vehicle by retrieving gas tanks dotted around the map; the other four players control respawning Specials and attempt to hinder their progress. When time runs out the sides swap over and the game plays out again. The team with the highest score wins the round, and after a set number of rounds an overall winner is declared - matches use a fighting game-style best of 1/3/5 structure.

This may not sound like a particularly big deal, but trust me when I say that Scavenger is one of the best multiplayer experiences of 2009. Obviously a lot of the mechanics from the main game are present and correct, but the pace of the action is faster and more free-flowing. There are fewer standard Infected around and more Specials, and since the latter are now controlled by humans, there's now a need to out-think your opponents. As with Versus Mode, it's incredibly fun to play as the Infected - particularly if you're controlling a Spitter, as his corrosive sputum can set the fuel cans alight. There's a special kind of evil fun that can only be had from ambushing a pair of survivors as they approach the generator, where a well-aimed gob can cause total havoc. Until you've seen a burning man fall over into a pool of acid, you haven't lived.

Aside from being great in its own right, Scavenger shows us that Valve is starting to think about ways to expand the remit of the Left 4 Dead experience. Make no mistake, this is an excellent sequel that does much to build upon the foundations of the first game; however, if there is to be a third entry in the franchise - and I've no doubt that there will be - then Valve will have to go further with its changes. But hey, that's something to deal with in the future. For now, we have Left 4 Dead 2 - a top-quality shooter with oodles of style. And for that, we should be truly grateful.

New stuff to check out

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

PussyCat's Avatar

PussyCat

the graphics are amazing! i hate the witch zombies. scary! fantastic game tho
Posted 18:39 on 27 December 2009
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

This game is good fun just with Jean Claude RanDammers online. Though some of them can be infuriating at times. Stuck it on to play for 20 minutes there before lunch and ended up playing for over an hour.
Posted 12:44 on 07 December 2009
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

I bought a 360 for the original and I was left a little disappointed. If I can convince a few friends to get this then I will also purchase. Hopefuly in the January sales, if it drops in price which the original didn't do.
Posted 19:22 on 19 November 2009
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ RecoN

It's a brilliant suggestion, RecoN. Sure, the game would have to be quite massively gimped from a graphics perspective, but waggle-happy zombie horde fighting has the potential to be absolutely hilarious! Especially with the new melee weapons...

I actually felt the review lacked a little personality, Neon. It seemed more 'functional' than 'fun', which is definitely not what I think of when hearing you on the podcast. That being said, it does the trick, and made me absolutely determined to get hold of this one.
Posted 18:17 on 19 November 2009
Rickitis's Avatar

Rickitis

Valve doesnt like the PS3 though as they always complain that its too hard to make games for so they always stick to the PC and 360 which sucks for PS3 owners.
Posted 18:17 on 19 November 2009
RecoN's Avatar

RecoN

Agreed L4D has been around for a while now and i think Valve would make money releasing it on the Playstation formatt, possibly on the wii? LOL How fun would that be! Fling your wiimote to throw a grenade ;)
Posted 17:35 on 19 November 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ Ghost_Dog

But not EA or Sega maybe Sony themselves? I'm pretty sure they would shoot down anybody else who got in their way to get this on the PS3 because The Orange Box was poor in comparison IMHO.

I'm confused why they don't do it to be honest. More money for them I suppose. After all money is king at the end of the day.
Posted 17:16 on 19 November 2009
Ghost_Dog's Avatar

Ghost_Dog

Oh how I wish this would come to the PS3.

If you don't want to do it Valve, farm it out to another developer.
Posted 17:08 on 19 November 2009
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

I'd say that's a pretty easy call - just decide whether you want a single-player experience, or something to play with others online.

I'd also bear in mind how many other people you know who'll be getting L4D2. As I said in the review, it's best played with friends.
Posted 17:03 on 19 November 2009
thpcplayer's Avatar

thpcplayer@ GeNeCyDe1993

i am in same position as you, dude. but i would go for l4d 2 personally
Posted 16:27 on 19 November 2009
GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar

GeNeCyDe1993

Awsome now this or AC2? Im only getting one.
good reveiw Neon :)
Posted 16:06 on 19 November 2009
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Got the first on PC through Steam and it's brilliant but might get the second on 360 so I have one on each.
Posted 14:51 on 19 November 2009
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

Another great review. This site's reviews keep getting better!
Posted 14:40 on 19 November 2009
Rickitis's Avatar

Rickitis@ mydeaddog

Yeah I meant the match-making more than anything and the fact you can play it on the sofa :) I might pick it up on PC then or hope some very kind person buys me a 360 for Christmas but I don’t fancy my chances of that happening :D
Posted 14:36 on 19 November 2009
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

I played the 360 and the PC versions for the review, and they both work really well.

Personally I'd say that the PC has the edge, as the graphics are a bit sharper - plus you get the benefit of a keyboard and mouse. On the other hand, the 36 version is probably easier with regards to match-making. And naturally, you don't have to worry about specs, optimisation etc.

The bottom line is that it's a great game, whichever platform you're on.
Posted 14:24 on 19 November 2009

Game Stats

Left 4 Dead 2
9
Out of 10
Left 4 Dead 2
  • Scavenger mode is hugely fun
  • Still a great concept
  • Excellent level design
  • Not a massive evolution from the last game
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 20/11/2009
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First Person Shooter
No. Players: 1-8
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 965 63
View Full Site