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Left 4 Dead 2 Preview

**update**

Left 4 Dead 2 Review can be found here

**update** 

When Left 4 Dead 2 was announced earlier this week, the news came as a real shock. The announcement of a full sequel only 6 months after the release of the original was almost unbelievable. GameOn managed to secure an in-depth hands-on play test through several levels of the new game and one thing is clear: this isn't a rushed out follow up.

Left 4 Dead 2 Screenshot 1

Valve were keen to emphasise that Left 4 Dead 2 won't completely override its predecessor and that they intend to keep developing extra content to provide players with plenty to do. Before the sequel is released another content pack will be available to download for Left 4 Dead sometime during the summer and beyond that content will still be provided.

After meeting our fellow survivors, GameOn were treated to the first two levels from The Parish campaign, set in the Southern American States. The survivors themselves are different from Left 4 Dead, comprising three men: Ellis, Nick and Coach and a woman, Rochelle. Whilst these are still early days there was a sense of camaraderie between them and the voice acting and dialogue raised some chuckles as we played through the levels.

Left 4 Dead 2 Screenshot 2

Left 4 Dead 2's core gameplay remains very similar to the original with the mysterious apocalypse taking place and only the four protagonists surviving in the area. The game is divided up into campaigns which are further sub-divided into chapters at the start and end of which you get the opportunity to heal and arm up before continuing. The weapons themselves remain largely the same, despite some cosmetic changes to their visual design. There are still the same tiers of weapons with which to dispatch the zombie hordes as well as secondary items such as pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails.

One of the best new additions is the inclusion of melee weapons. These act in a similar way to the fuel and gas cans you can collect and have to be carried. If you are attacked by a special infected whilst carrying them, they will be dropped but they are incredibly satisfying. Whilst playing through the campaign I encountered an axe and a frying pan. The former sliced and diced the hordes with ease whilst the latter sent infected flying with an amusing clanging sound. These weapons feel right and are a natural extension of the existing gameplay and battering a screaming zombie to death is nothing less than entertaining.

Left 4 Dead 2 Screenshot 3

The other main inclusion is the ability to find different types of ammunition in the environment. In the first chapter of The Parish, we stumbled upon incendiary rounds in an abandoned outhouse. These can be used to fill your primary weapon with one magazine of ammo which burns anything it touches. The pleasure of watching waves of the infected ignite under assault rifle fire was immense and again, feels like a great addition.

Your enemies are still vicious, relentless and very angry and will chase you down in a blur of angry punches and kicks. The game is far more intense than its predecessor: a feat which doesn't seem possible. Hordes now attack from the front and behind simultaneously and now drop in from all directions being spread out, making things seriously challenging. The numbers of infected you face are also far greater requiring even better teamwork to make it through each chapter.

Left 4 Dead 2 Screenshot 4

One of the most noticeable changes is the visual design of the game, immediately being different from the dark environments of Left 4 Dead. Here the action takes place in the heat of the day with the sun beating down. This creates an altered atmosphere and you can almost smell the stench of the corpses littering the streets. The graphics are relatively crisp and effects are much more detailed, the fire of lit fuel being particularly stunning. The infected also model damage far more realistically than the exaggerated gore of the original. Now limbs blow apart, heads disintegrate and body shots reveal the jagged bone of ribs coupled with the bloody ends of damaged intestines. It is pretty surprising and shocking, but you rarely have time to notice due to the fast paced and relentless action.

Your enemies are now very different with greater variety amongst and they now sport terrifying glowing eyes. If this wasn't intimidating enough they now have enraged facial expressions which are noticeable as they swarm around you. The design is superb offering an insight into their former lives and hinting at the events leading up to the outbreak. Some infected are now found in biohazard suits which gives them an added level of protection meaning it is best to send several bullets their way first.

Left 4 Dead 2 Screenshot 5

The special infected return with the Boomer, Hunter, Smoker and Tank all possessing the same abilities from Left 4 Dead. The witch is also back but now has the nasty habit of wandering around the level meaning the usual policy of sneaking past her is far more difficult. During our demo, things didn't go to plan and instead of a stealthy bypass we ended up face to face with the clawed and not very happy girl. Suffice to say it ended it tears.

A new infected appears in Left 4 Dead 2 in the shape of The Charger. This monstrous abomination has the build of a Tank but far greater speed, dashing into survivors sending them flying, leaving them vulnerable to a pounce from a Hunter or separating them from the rest of the group. There were a number of times when the AI worked together to split the group up which was impressive and really showcased the improved Director AI.

Left 4 Dead 2 Screenshot 6

As we neared the end of the second chapter, we encountered a trailer which acted as a sort of miniature Safe Room, allowing us temporary respite whilst we prepared for one of the set pieces. In it, we had to activate an alarm in order to get past a doorway and then dash through hordes of infected until we could deactivate the siren and stop the flow of enemies. The set piece was different and challenging but really worked and the sense of satisfaction as we closed the Safe Room door was met with cheers and shouts of congratulation from our team mates.

However, whilst there was the pleasure of beating the demo it was also tinged with sadness. The demo was of such good quality and had such a level of polish that it is going to make the 6 months until November 17th all the more difficult. Left 4 Dead 2 is already very special and GameOn can't wait until we are fighting for our lives with friends once again.

Left 4 Dead 2 Screenshot 7

evilgiraffeman | 4th June, 2009
Platinum's picture
Nice preview, cant wait for this one
Wedgeh's picture
how badly will our co-op games fail when rasher gets incendiary ammo though??
Hmmm, I need to see more and hear more. The steam community aren't happy, I even got invited to a 'boycott L4D2' group yesterday.
Dead Alive's picture
I'm still not sure on this, I don't like it being set in the daytime.
Rasher's picture
we was seriously impressed with this guys
out of interest
what reason are they giving for the "boycott L4D2"?
ExcessNeo's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasher View Post
we was seriously impressed with this guys
out of interest
what reason are they giving for the "boycott L4D2"?
"Because valve isn't giving us free stuff"

The fact that there has been plenty of it for L4D, the only reason I would boycott Left4Dead2 is if it didn't support the maps/campaigns people are now working on for Left4Dead because otherwise there's not exactly much incentive for them which means less content for us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasher View Post
what reason are they giving for the "boycott L4D2"?
  1. The indication it won't be 'expansion-pack-priced.'
  2. There was promise of regular campaigns and updates, and there was one, 2 versus campaigns (that should have been there from the start) and quickly-tiresome Survival with existing maps.
  3. The delay of SDK and even when it's released, there's still an inability to play custom maps.
Personally I'm still buying it, no matter the price. I'm more worried as to whether it'll be as good as the original. Daytime seems a bit poo, removing any fear factor that exists, and the gameplay I've seen doesn't blow me away like the original did.

Hopefully it'll get polished up by release.
djdawsonuk's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoozer View Post
  1. The indication it won't be 'expansion-pack-priced.'
  2. There was promise of regular campaigns and updates, and there was one, 2 versus campaigns (that should have been there from the start) and quickly-tiresome Survival with existing maps.
  3. The delay of SDK and even when it's released, there's still an inability to play custom maps.
Personally I'm still buying it, no matter the price. I'm more worried as to whether it'll be as good as the original. Daytime seems a bit poo, removing any fear factor that exists, and the gameplay I've seen doesn't blow me away like the original did.

Hopefully it'll get polished up by release.
...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wedgeh View Post
how badly will our co-op games fail when rasher gets incendiary ammo though??
There will always be something to fear...
POBmaestro's picture
lol denied dawson

I personally think a change to day is a good move. I think all four of the original campaigns are too similar i.e. look and feel pretty much the same.

Something like the start of Resident Evil 4, where you are set in a jungle at sunset would be something more fresh imo.
wdg86's picture
Personally i think its too soon for a second one, surely they could have just put most if not all of the changes in an expantion pack and rolled out to L4D...
ill wait and see how many people here get this when its out - before i think about it
evilgiraffeman's picture
Boycott Left 4 Dead 2?

People need to listen to what Valve are saying. When we chatted to them they mentioned that a new update pack for Left 4 Dead would be released in the summer and that it would still get ongoing development with extra content. They aren't just going to ditch this game and move on, that just isn't Valve's style.

Also, Left 4 Dead 2 isn't an expansion it is a full sequel which is why it will probably be full priced. Even so, this will most likely be cheaper than most games.

Valve have proven that they are a developer that listens to people and cares about the consumer. The fact they have done so much for the consumer in the past for nothing now has people complaining when they release a game in only a year's time. Plenty of other studios do that, so when Valve release a game quickly, with the same level of support as all their others, whilst not abandoning the last one: people complain?
ExcessNeo's picture
Quote:
Originally Posted by evilgiraffeman View Post
Boycott Left 4 Dead 2?

People need to listen to what Valve are saying. When we chatted to them they mentioned that a new update pack for Left 4 Dead would be released in the summer and that it would still get ongoing development with extra content. They aren't just going to ditch this game and move on, that just isn't Valve's style.

Also, Left 4 Dead 2 isn't an expansion it is a full sequel which is why it will probably be full priced. Even so, this will most likely be cheaper than most games.

Valve have proven that they are a developer that listens to people and cares about the consumer. The fact they have done so much for the consumer in the past for nothing now has people complaining when they release a game in only a year's time. Plenty of other studios do that, so when Valve release a game quickly, with the same level of support as all their others, whilst not abandoning the last one: people complain?
It's just people throwing their toys out of their prams if they don't buy it more L4D2 for those of us who truly support Valve
The only thing that peeves me is the delayed SDK and it's practical uselessness now there's a sequel in the future. That's poor, especially from a developer who pride themselves on 'community content.'
Dead Alive's picture
A full list of 'reasons' for the boycott from the Steam group: -

Quote:
* Significant content for L4D1 was promised, and never delivered
* Valve put little faith in L4D1 since they almost certainly started working on L4D2 right after release
* The fact that L4D2 is nearly identical to L4D1 will decimate the community for both games
* The announced date is not nearly enough time to polish content or make significant gameplay changes
* The new character designs seem bland and unappealing so far
* L4D2 is too bright to fit in with L4D1's visual aesthetic
* The fiddle-based horde music is extremely disliked, though the differently orchestrated music is otherwise welcome
* L4D2's release will result in a drop in quality and frequency for L4D1 content, even compared to before
* The community has lost faith in Valve's former reputation for commitment to their games post-release
To go along side this snazzy picture:


Personally, none of those given reasons bother me. The only thing I'm not too sure on is the change to daytime but I understand it's a direct opposite of the original games atmosphere and I suppose I trust Valve will make it good.

There's one reason on that list I agree with though, the damn Horde music!

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