In many areas, the CaveChild and I have very different views on this title. He is more of an online-multiplayer gamer than I am, and he did, for the most part, like the multi-player portions of this game, except when his 360 headset wasn’t functioning and he’d get kicked from a game because he couldn’t communicate with other players. With teamwork and communication being a huge part of the play, if you are a gamer who does not like to converse with others when playing, this portion of the game is probably not for you. In the online play, you can choose to be either a Survivor or one of the Zombie Bosses, but whichever team you are on, strategy and planning play a huge part in being the victor.
I am a gamer who likes to collect things – this mode of game play feeds my OCD-ishness, and for me at least, is an important part of the enjoyable gaming experience. Other than weaponry, there wasn’t anything to collect and horde. Characters are not given a large capacity to carry items, and for those of us who primarily play RPG-style games, this is a huge challenge. The developers have forced players to use their resources effectively, and the “pray and spray” method of killing massive numbers of enemies isn’t really an option. Thankfully there is a large selection of melee weaponry available – there is something oddly satisfying about whacking a zombie upside the head with a frying pan or cricket bat. Nothing, however, says “Die Zombie!” quite as nicely as the limited-use chainsaw.
While there are a number of drops to gain extra ammunition, molotov cocktails and other new items such as the bile bomb, in my own opinion it would’ve been a nice option to gain a hunter’s flap jacket at the gun store, thereby legitimately adding a little bit of extra storage capacity, instead of only being able to carry one “bomb item” and one medical kit.
One of the areas which I found to be particularly frustrating was in not being sure which way I was supposed to go. While the five maps are not overly large, there are specific areas which gamers must work towards in order to get to the Safe Houses. Some areas were reasonably easy to work through with a well-marked path, while other areas seemed to lack the all-important player clues as to what needed to be done and where. The ability to wander around in a semi-open world is always nice, but so is having a clear idea of where you need to be, particularly when The Director is throwing huge numbers of infected zombie folks at you. There were also too many invisible walls for our preference – and a few areas which could’ve made some great sniper nests were not available. It is somewhat evilly satisfying to literally snipe a zombie’s legs out from under him or her.
The atmosphere and setting for the game was appropriately eerie, and I will give the level designers and audio crew extra points for this. However, there were also many instances of clipping failures and targeting problems – there were times when it would take 8 or 9 shots to fall a zombie who was squarely in my sights. It was lots of fun to use the Safe Houses as “duck huts” and snipe zombies or pile up the bodies of those who rushed the door. Having an endless supply of ammo while in the Safe House was also a bonus and added more than just a few minutes to overall game time.
I would have liked to have had a longer campaign, simply because that is where my game style preference focuses. I don’t that I would consider Left 4 Dead 2 to be a hugely impressive sequel to Left 4 Dead, but it’s not a complete disappointment, either. With the different play modes which are available and with The Director looking after the AI experience and interaction for horde management and difficulty scaling, there are a decent number of hours of play available to the gamer. On the Village Gamer scale of game approval, we’ve settled on a range of 7.5 to 8.0 for Left 4 Dead 2’s overall product presentation, additions and improvements.