First Exams
Left 4 Dead 2 Demo Impressions

What a terrible time it’s been for us Left 4 Dead 2 boycotters. The leading members of the boycott were whisked away to Valve’s offices and brain washed with ‘freebies’ and other subversive means. If that wasn’t bad enough, Valve offered a 4 pack pre-order bonus for the low price of $33.75, a mere $8.75 more than what I paid for the original on PC (or $16.25 less than retail, but I’m a glass half empty man). What more, PC gamers railed against Activision for actually doing something evil. Now, the final straw in whatever we were mad about (I’ve somewhat forgotten, but I’m sure I will by the end of this article), the game is actually good. Damn. Well, now I know more or less what Pagliacci felt when he got bitten by a zombie and shot in the head by me. Err, well at least I know it felt when I shot him.


The first thing you’ll be treated to is a view you won’t quite be familiar to in Left 4 Dead. Sunlight, shopping grounds, gazebos, a wide array of diverse scenery all around. Graphically, the Source engine maybe showing its age, but on the game’s highest settings you won’t be complaining for long. You’ll be far to busy slaying zombies to form a complex sentence anyway. There are a few things that often change in video games you’ve put a lot of time into that you didn’t even realize needed tweaking at the time. When these things are adjusted even slightly they make more of a difference than the most pronounced changes. This evident in games like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and sports gamers swear that their favorite titles change year after year. It’s debatable really. The casual observer will notice next to nothing has changed in Left 4 Dead 2, but anyone who’s put in at least 20hrs into the series will see how small things have managed to wind up different, for the better in this case. Your new cast members might not be quite as iconic as the original set, but give them a break. They lived in New Orleans, that place was a disaster zone before a zombie outbreak.

L4D2 Guitar

Your first weapon will be the standard fare of shotgun or SMG. Don’t complain for too long, the weapons do get better along the way. The items that you’ll find as melee weapons will be hilarious at first, and then life saving throughout your journey. Your friend may have a machete and you may be stuck with a frying pan, but the game really doesn’t differentiate between the two, or at least the zombies don’t. More powerful than the melee of your guns and having a wider damage radius, this is your best way for clearing the path for you and your buddies. The new guns are definitely a welcome addition, especially the desert eagle. Eight shots, but they make such a big impact compared to the standard pistol. It’s fun to watch zombies split in half. You’ll also find an AK-47, less accuracy but more damage than the M4, but both fail in comparison with the new 3 burst assault rifle the name of which escapes me.  The SMG gets a little bit of an upgrade as well. A silencer has been tied off with twisty ties and attached to the regular SMG making it more accurate and devastating to zombie flesh. And can you believe that there are some people who believe that you shouldn’t try this at home?

You’ll be met with a diverse array of Louisianian zombie wildlife. Although they’re really not harder to kill in most cases, they’re definitely more fun to watch die. Expect them to charge at you with a limb or two missing, as well as stumbling or tripping over something when you swat them away. They’ll get back up of course, so it’s a good idea to blast them while they’re down. It’s also not uncommon to mistake a good sign as a bad one. In a disaster scenario it is only natural to try to find the police, but trust me, the cops in this game will use excessive force. The SWAT zombies are brutal, completely armored and swing a billy stick hard enough to turn a flower tossing hippie into Rush Limbaugh.  The riot guard’s only weakness is being shot in the back while one of your friends distracts him. Not to be outdone in the annoying department, the Jockey is like a head humper with a full body. It leaps onto your head and steers you around (often into Molotov fire) until it’s shot off of you. The Charger is like a lighter version of the tank, much lighter. It can be taken down in a few seconds, but it breaks up the pace of your winning streak if it manages to down a partner. It only takes going down once to lose a game for everyone. The Spitter manages to inspire vomit from herself and others. If you don’t pay attention you can find 30% of your health gone in the blink of an eye. She sprays acid on the ground, far deadlier than the Boomer and less obvious when there’s a zombie horde at your feet. It’s best to stow the yo mama jokes and take her out quickly when you see her from a distance, she has a far reach…like yo mama.

Left 4 Dead 2 Silenced SMG

Sure, Louis is no longer in the game to shout “PEELS HERE!”, and when they do its not nearly as funny, but there’s more than just pills now. In addition you’ll find shots of adrenaline providing a temporary boost in health as well as heightened senses. Don’t use it unless you have to though because it’ll leave you in worse shape overall. For teammates who are dying there’s also a defibrillator used to keep them alive. I suppose you could also Kill All Sonsabitches with it too, although I haven’t actually tried that, yet. You will also find containers of Boomer bile lying around that can be thrown at zombies to get them all in one area. A traitorous swine could also use it to betray a teammate who cracked wise about his mama when The Spitter showed up, but you’d have to be a bastard to do that. It begs the question as to who or what collected all the Boomer’s bile, or even how they did it. The best questions are the ones you don’t want to know the answer to.

There are quite a few things that are different. The enemy skins are more diverse although the game moves so fast you won’t even notice. If you pay attention you’ll even see a female Boomer, and I might not be sure but as I was being trampled to death the Tank looked like he’d gotten a new pair of pants. Valve always did have the gameplay down to a science for this game, but the variations of game types weren’t available in the demo so the jury is still out. The only real thing to complain about would be for the modders still working with Left 4 Dead 1. If there work will carry over or not seems to be an issue all on its own. The first game won’t magically disappear, but it will seriously reduce interest. For me the boycott came from a typically unexpected move from Valve. They’d always extended the life of their games and have never release a sequel this fast. All the Half Life’s had interchangeable assets, even updated in some cases. But in a move like this, it’s still awkward to see these changes however slight or effective be separating the two games in the most bizarre of ways. Identical on a genetic level, but their skin deep qualities affecting their interactions. Sort of like humans and zombies forever at war. I guess that is pretty fitting.

L4D2 Assualt Rifle 3-Burst

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