Left 4 Dead 2 Hands-On Preview

RELOADING. PILLS HERE. HELP ME UP. WIIIIITCH.

Never before have the random utterances of seemingly normal characters been as ingrained in my head as those written above, originally spoken by the characters of Left 4 Dead. Each syllable had to be noted during your battle for survival, as not listening for audio cues or helping the others would lead everyone to a quick and grisly demise at the decayed hands of the Infected. When I got my mitts on the E3 build of Left 4 Dead 2, I expected more of the same: more zombies, more weapons, and more mayhem. What I ended up getting was all of that, plus a few extra bonuses that fans will certainly appreciate.

For those of you who haven’t yet played Left 4 Dead, please turn in your PC and consoles at the door. What is the matter with you? For those who have, Left 4 Dead 2 brings back all of the zombie-killing goodness from the original and adds a ton of new and exciting features to the mix. Foremost of those is the revamped AI Director, which tracks how you are playing and decides what types of enemies to send at you based on your team’s performance. Even though I only got to try one campaign level, the difference was immediately noticeable. Swarms of undead came at us faster and more furious than they did in the original, leaving us mobbed early on. We also got to see one of the new Infected, a hulking monster with a hammer-shaped fist that pounded me into the pavement. While it didn’t instantly kill me, the time that it took me to get back up from the attack was long enough for a pile of zombies to jump all over me.

 

I also got to try out a few of the new weapons, all of which were variations on the shotgun, pistol, and machine gun from the original. I unfortunately didn’t get to go hands-on with the much heralded chainsaw, but could see how this new type of combat would be a welcome addition. Also worth noting is that the level was set in a decimated village during the daytime, which is a stark contrast to the night time city environments of the original. We had to duck and weave our way through trailers, backyards and fences to get ourselves to safety. Valve has mentioned that certain aspects of level geometry might change every time you play, so a door that is unlocked one time may be locked the next. This type of randomness to the level design is greatly appreciated, especially with the repetitive nature of most multiplayer shooters.

While my time with the game was brief, I greatly enjoyed what I saw of this zombie-packed sequel. Everything that was great about the original is still fantastic, the new characters and environments seem to be fun, and the improved AI Director adds a new feel to the gameplay. Left 4 Dead 2 ships this November for the Xbox 360 and PC.

 

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