Left 4 Dead was the start of something special in the multiplayer space. While zombies were already getting fairly popular in games, most fights against them were solo affairs. Left 4 Dead, though, decided to take the concept into the multiplayer space. It wouldn't be players fighting against one another, though - they'd have to help one another...[read more below]
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A return to the world of Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead was the start of something special in the multiplayer space. While zombies were already getting fairly popular in games, most fights against them were solo affairs. Left 4 Dead, though, decided to take the concept into the multiplayer space. It wouldn't be players fighting against one another, though - they'd have to help one another survive.
This squad-based, cooperative survival game-play would become a huge hit, one that was big enough to beg a sequel. Left 4 Dead 2 did what few sequels do, though - it took the original game and improved on it in almost every way. Just a quick look at how it works is enough to see how it became such a hit.
On the one hand, Left 4 Dead 2's concept isn't all that novel. Not only is it a pretty standard story of survival, but it's one that has an awful lot in common with the first game. You still take on the role of one of four characters, and you're still just trying to make it through a map long enough to get to the extraction point.
Where Left 4 Dead 2 stands out, though, is with the little things.
It feels very much like Valve took a look at the first game and set about trying to fix all of its problems in the second iteration. The characters feel more fleshed out, the locations feel more fun, and there are a lot of little alterations that make the experience flow more smoothly. If you're going to hew close to the first game when you make a sequel, this is how you should do it.
The best way to describe the look of Left 4 Dead 2 is probably to call it adequate. At the time, the game looked fine - it still suffered a bit from being on an aging engine, but it managed to keep everything on the screen in a pleasing way. Today, it looks a little rougher around the edges. Given that the game is over a decade old, though, that's not much of a knock against it.
The audio holds up better, though. Left 4 Dead does depend a bit on sound design, so the sequel would fall apart if it weren't solid. From the atmospheric music to the sounds of various infected, the game does a good job of making you feel immersed in the soundscape.
Left 4 Dead 2 is pretty much the perfect example of its genre. Everything is responsive, but more than that, it just all works. Every aspect of game-play has improved from the first game, but a special note needs to be made about melee combat. It's a blast to try to take down as many zombies as possible with melee weapons in this game, something that you'll miss if you ever go back to the first entry.
Even if everything else were the same as in the first game, Versus Mode would elevate it to a higher level.
Versus Mode pits a team of human survivors against a team of human-controlled infected. The level of teamwork and strategy needed on both ends is nothing short of amazing, with many matches coming down to who makes the first mistake. If you've never played Versus mode, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.
Left 4 Dead 2 is as close to a perfect co-op survival game as you'll find. Refined from a great base and full of interesting additions, it's still favorably compared against many games that have tried to capitalize on its formula. If you've never played this one, you need to go out and find it as soon as you can.
Left 4 Dead 2 is a near-perfect horror-survival co-op shooter.
What follows is the official description of Left 4 Dead 2, from the developers.
The Games on Demand version supports English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Potuguese, Japanese, Chinese. New from Valve creators of Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Portal and Team Fortress Left 4 Dead 2 is a new game that casts up to four "Survivors" in an epic struggle against hordes of swarming zombies and terrifying "Boss Infected" mutants. Are you ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?
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