Left 4 Dead 2 Hands-On Impressions

A zombie outbreak has struck the Deep South in this expanded sequel to Valve's co-op shooter.

This week's announcement of a Left 4 Dead sequel is something that easily falls in the "surprise" category. After all, Valve is a developer with a track record of taking its sweet time between major releases. But as with so much of what the company has given us over the years, it's every bit a pleasant surprise. Left 4 Dead proved to be a thrilling take on the first-person shooter genre with its focus on co-op play, hilarious characters, and swarms upon swarms of the ravenous undead. With the upcoming sequel Left 4 Dead 2, you can expect a familiar experience that doesn't alter the gameplay so much as dramatically expand it.

Let's go ahead and start with the overall package. Left 4 Dead 2 will offer five new campaigns, which is obviously just one more than the original game. But unlike the original, every one of these campaigns will support Versus and Survival modes (plus a new mode that Valve remains silent about). The campaigns will take four new survivors across the Deep South in a trek from Savannah, Georgia to New Orleans, Louisiana. Much like in the original game, each of the characters--Coach, Nick, Ellis, and Rochelle--has his or her own distinct personality, from Ellis' hillbilly drawl to Coach's gruff surliness and penchant for the vulgar.

In terms of gameplay, Left 4 Dead 2's primary changes come from the new weapons. The big difference is the addition of melee weapons. The ones that we got to try included a fire axe and a frying pan (there's also a chainsaw, but we didn't see that one). The fire axe is good for hacking off limbs and having a good time with the expanded zombie deformation, whereas the frying pan is good for knocking them back several feet at a time. Your primary weapons still fall into the same four categories as the original, but now you'll find a silenced Uzi, a new combat shotgun and an assault rifle, and special ammo such as incendiary rounds that light the zombies on fire.

The zombies themselves have been given a few upgrades as well. You'll find three new special infected to go along with your old friends boomer, tank, hunter, smoker, and witch. Only one was revealed in our hands-on time, and that was the charger, a giant one-armed monster in overalls who can knock down the entire team and keep hold of one until his last breath. A new class of zombie has been introduced called the uncommon common, a halfway point between the common and special infected. There's one type per campaign, and on the campaign we played, they were former members of a disaster-fighting agency equipped in hazmat suits. In practical terms, this means special zombies who are immune to fire, so those molotovs and gas tanks become utterly useless against them.

We had the chance to play the fifth and final campaign from the game, which is called "The Parish" and features a tagline that reads "Welcome to the Big Uneasy." The team starts out on the docks of a river, with a giant bridge towering in the far-off distance. This campaign takes players on a trek through the streets of New Orleans, through a city park with hedgerow mazes, and into some industrial shipping yards. Our portion ended with a point-to-point finale in which the survivors triggered an alarm at one end of the chapter and had to move across the majority of it before cutting off the alarm and stopping the horde--sort of a nonstationary version of the final stands from the first game.

We managed to play both versions of Left 4 Dead 2: PC and Xbox 360. The same graphical disparity that existed with the first game is once again on display, which is to say that the PC looks a bit better but not substantially so. The graphics don't seem noticeably better than the original Left 4 Dead, but as we mentioned before, there is quite a bit more zombie deformation in the way that undead body parts get ravaged by your weaponry (you can even go overkill and hack away at dead zombies with the fire axe). The voice acting still sounds great, and the creepy howl of an approaching horde is just as intimidating as ever.

No one is going to mistake Left 4 Dead 2 for a completely different game compared to its predecessor, but the overall package ought to be much larger and offer more potential for lasting entertainment. Considering how great the first one was, we'll take that in a heartbeat. You can expect to see more on Left 4 Dead 2's other campaigns and new gameplay mode leading up to its November 17 release.

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Discussion

285 comments
Destrin
Destrin

Rochelle is still immensely lame..... I miss Zoey...

metalgamer12
metalgamer12

it would be nice to have as a DC but it does have even more content thanthe origanal does'nt it?

gedbyz
gedbyz

It will be a good game, not my first choice.

volleyballspike
volleyballspike

sounds like it should be an expansion pack and not a full game. I hope it'll be cheaper than a full game because that really isn't THAT much new content...

Raykuza
Raykuza

I'm looking forward to killing Klan zombies in Georgia and disgruntled 9th Ward zombies in New Orleans.

raza3
raza3

if that game has on pc i will download it

tomfuzz7
tomfuzz7

it looks great but why so soon?

eddienom
eddienom

This game is going to be the game that brings Microsoft

E3Abe09
E3Abe09

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

E3Abe09
E3Abe09

This game is going to be the game that brings Microsoft over Nintendo

E3Abe09
E3Abe09

This game is going to be the best GOTY 2009

SFS33J
SFS33J

I LOVE THES GAME BUT I WHNT DOWNLOEDING THES GAME I DON'T FOUND IT

colts93
colts93

this game looks great cant wait to kick some zombies @ you know what iam trying to saying but cant gamespot is reading this hi

SilentCard
SilentCard

I can't wait to play this, but WHERE THE CRAP IS MY HL 2: EP 3?!?!?!?!

Ares360
Ares360

looks good but I need to see more, because if it's just like R6V2 it'll still be good just not a big deal.

suspektz101
suspektz101

Looks great, can't wait to play it in november.

Selk987
Selk987

...I have plenty of fun with the game, even though none of my friends own it. Just play VS mode, it's the best gameplay mode so far.

Nitrogenix
Nitrogenix

Never completely understood this game, played it and was disappointed. There's not a whole lot to it, no story, which is probably why I didn't like it, couldn't focus on a goal. Maybe it would have been more fun if I played with friends...

weapon93
weapon93

Sounds like a rainbow six vegas style sequal. Same game, just improved. I'm getting it just because L4D is amazing.

jemson
jemson

its the same stuff that was in lfd1.nothing interesting.its just the graphic tha makes the game cool

theBIGtree
theBIGtree

Well, I can agree with you on the fact that yes, they should've just updated L4D 1. But, maybe it'll be better to just buy all the new stuff in one package, complete with new characters, mechanics, etc. than to repeatedly have to buy over priced DLC off of the marketplace. At least, that's what I believe.

elanserver
elanserver

this is some bs, l4d1 barely got any updates and the maps were all the same/cliche weapons. and now they are having a second one instead of updating the first. THOSE ASHHOLES

twistedkid77
twistedkid77

May be too early to say, but it doesn't look like much has changed aside from guns setting and characters. I'm not really lookin out for this one. We'll see how it develops.

F1Canuck
F1Canuck

I love Left4Dead, Love it ! but why not just ADD 4 more charactors? I am always Bill and now he's gone. That kinda sucks, no big deal in the big picture but why not 8 guys ? It can't be THAT big of a deal. Anyway, should be great, I still want DLC for the first one. Cheers.

Kurzicide
Kurzicide

I hope this game will turn out as great as the first one. Can't wait to find out what the new mode is. I don't like the characters this time around though, they don't seem as "memorable" as the 4 in the first one. I actually liked the way they made the campaigns in the first one. They were put in different situations, and they had to find a way to escape (although I can't help to think that on Blood Harvest, them waking up in a forest as a group would be weird). The second is going to have so much more replayability to it as far as I can tell because of the rearranged maps every time you play with Director 2.0. They said themselves on the Developer Commentary in the first game that it was fairly easy to program once they created the Director, with zombie mobs being tested the same day they incorporated it. It wouldn't take too long to make a sequel, after adding in things here and there to sort of "qualify" it as a new game. I own a 360, and HDD memory can be a problem, so I don't have a problem with it being a new game and not just DLC, although I can see PC owners being upset since computer's normally would have enough memory. I can certainly see it being cheaper through Steam if L4D1 is connected to the user's account, but not too much cheaper than retail because of all the new features. I also heard that the special zombies' models haven't been changed in any ways. What are you waiting for Valve? Model changes would be great.

gedbyz
gedbyz

This game is not really meant to be a single player game, so it will probably be the same

richboy101
richboy101

@ Spac3w33d I dont think the right term would be "realistic" because... well.... zombies arnt real..... or are they?

Vasot
Vasot

From the screenshots i have to say that the game looks great...

Vasot
Vasot

I hope there is a better Single player this time

DeadlyPlatypus
DeadlyPlatypus

Can't wait. I hope the graphics (and animations) are smoother in this one, though. That, along with a lack of story, were the only things I didn't like about the first one.

DamnedApples
DamnedApples

I'm gonna shoot me some good ole zombie rednecks.

valientefly
valientefly

geeez i really hope this game has some story sense this time, not saying that the first was not awesome , IT WAS but nowadays games without story are not going to make it to the "classic" category....anyway if it doesnt have any story i wont buy it until its $15.00 on ebay or half....

kytomasi
kytomasi

I like the melee weapons. means ammo should be more limited and pistols arent unlimited ammo anymore. it'll make being a smoker alot more rewarding. If smokers are still in the game XD.

jjkkooeerr
jjkkooeerr

I think this bets the first because in this game you can finally use weapons like bats and chainsaws and more

UAEARSENAL
UAEARSENAL

i hope its not like l4d 1 cuz its has 4 campaigns and i didint like it .. i really want a long campaign like doing mission to kill the zombies or to save people that stuck in thier houses and we help them i really want like this stuff .. hope they make it a great game

Spac3w33d
Spac3w33d

This game looks awesome. The zombies look a lot more realistic

Madcows
Madcows

I was hoping for some real ass kickery like a saw or street sweeper. Not a axe, frying pan or twinkie

MehowPwned
MehowPwned

Can't wait loved the game and now they added chainsaw! freaken awesome

JUSTBLAZE_928
JUSTBLAZE_928

Unless this secret mode Valve isnt talkin about is incredible everybody will hate on this game and call it L4D 1.5 or DLC because all it is just different maps.

88abdielr
88abdielr

I can't way untill it comes out

Sydwynder
Sydwynder

Left 4 Dead is still probably the best game I bought last year and I am super pumped for number 2.