RPS Left 4 Dead 2 Review

Hello fingertip!

Having had a chance to sit down with L4D2 on PC for a couple of days, playing all five campaigns, the new Realism and Scavenge modes, and a good chunk of Versus, I think it’s about time I told you wot I think.

Hello, welcome.

I’d almost forgotten those moments. There’s only three of you still alive, the rescue helicopter is right there, in view, and you can’t move. One companion is pinned to the ground by a frenzied Hunter, another is barely alive, fallen from the path, trying to negotiate a route back, and you – you simply can’t move. There’s so many of the Infected surrounding you, pouring from over fences and climbing from a hole in the ground, swamping you, and no matter how many you kill more take their place. And the rescue boat is just there, you can almost touch it, and you can’t move.

It’s those moments that made Left 4 Dead so much more than just a four-player zombie shooter. It was the stories, the individual tales of terror and derring-do. Left 4 Dead 2 is not just a bigger, better, more involved sequel to the original game. It’s an opportunity for more of those shouted celebrations of success, or cries of betrayal on defeat. It’s what a sequel should be: the ideas from the original game rethought, reimagined, and enormously improved upon, in a new setting, with new characters, new weapons, new enemies, new tactics and new ways to play. And significantly longer than the original.

Four Survivors, living in a world where zombie-like Infected humans and monsters massively populate the cities and countryside, are desperately trying to reach potential rescue. As a team of four, working together or failing, they fight to stay alive and constantly progress. This time in campaigns that take place during the day, dusk, night and dawn, shedding new light on the original concept (sorry).

Like clowns weren't scary enough already.

While I don’t doubt that Dark Carnival will prove to be the most celebrated campaign, so amusingly set in a fairground with hidden gnome-based extras, rollercoasters to run around, and a finale involving pyrotechnics and rawk, for me Hard Rain was the most outstanding part of the game. The four new Survivors have to make a return trip on an errand, eventually making their way back to the boat that brought them there. It means the level is traversed twice (which rather than meaning they halve the effort by using each location twice, it’s instead just enormous, and played differently on the return leg), which also means you might not want to collect every item you find on your way out there, whether in safe rooms or scattered around levels. You’ll need to save stuff for your way back – which is frightening. But what makes Hard Rain quite so thrilling is not only the dusky open areas and brilliantly smart layout, but the weather.

Wading in water is dangerous times.

It rains throughout, and in a novel twist for gaming it looks like rain. And it’s a rain that gets worse at the behest of the AI Director – Left 4 Dead’s omnipotent controller of everything from the position of ammo to the spawning of enemies – and in this new game, occasionally the layout of the levels themselves. And the weather. Whenever the Director feels it might cause you the most terror, a storm rolls in. The rain picks up, becomes louder, and you hear that first crack of thunder. Remember when you played the first game and you encountered a Witch? The terror that induced? You’ve probably got over that now – you know what will trigger her, how closely you can sneak around her, what her limits are. Thunderstorms bring that horror back. The noise of thunder attracts the hordes, and attracts them in huge numbers. But with the rain crashing down and visibility poor, getting caught in the open means doom. You have to rush for shelter, the nearest building, the closest thing with a roof. The sound of thunder evokes shouts from all playing, “Get to cover! In there! In that house!” And the four of you sprint for the door, defending all entrances, and attempt to stay alive until the storm passes. It’s absolutely enthralling – a sensation that no game has offered me before – the crazed desire for shelter and protection amongst the safety of your friends.

On that return journey through Hard Rain the storms have caused the towns to flood. You’re now wading through feet of water, completely changing how you can approach the levels, forcing you to trace routes across rooftops. And very significantly, both here and in the marshes of the fantastic Swamp Fever, the water is superb, and makes an importance difference to how you play. Brand new water effects have been introduced to a hugely improved Source engine, which look remarkably convincing. Which brings me to the trees.

Just look at that tree!

Trees in games are traditionally terrible. Even as recently as Half-Life 2: Episode Two the trees were interlaced flat panels. Here they are trees. Real, individual, trees. I realise I may sound like a lunatic obsessive here, but it’s remarkable the difference it makes. The haunting mists of Swamp Fever are so much more effective thanks to the twisting branches and thick trunks, that don’t look like a cheap 3D trick on close inspection. It’s indicative of what a beautiful game this is.

The four new characters have a more specific arc, but in all honesty I didn’t follow it too closely. Much like the original game, the story of Nick, Ellis, Rochelle and Coach is really the one you shout to each other as you play. Their comments, when heard, add splendid colour to a tale you’re telling yourself. And they really are often splendid. My favourite came right at the start, when in the parking lot outside the mall of Dead Center, when Nick – a smart-mouthed and not immediately likable guy – sees a Witch hunched up in a corner, sobbing her terrifying wail. “Maybe she’s upset because the mall’s closed?” It punctured the mood so well, his sexist and stupid remark inappropriate and incredibly funny. And of course it’s a comment that wouldn’t feature were there not to have been a Witch in the carpark outside the mall, which next time there likely wouldn’t be. Their personalities change as you progress, their experiences and bonding affecting their responses to the situation. It’s a nice touch, and one you’ll only occasionally notice if you’re not screaming instruction or begging for help.

A charger, and young Scott, having a quick chat.

Joining the crew of monstrous Special Infected, alongside the pouncing Hunter, tongue-lassoing Smoker, vomiting grotesque Boomer, and all pummeling Tank, are three new beasts. There’s the Jockey, a giggling scrawny freak who leaps on a Survivor’s shoulders and then rides them into danger. You have some ability to resist, attempting to steer against his influence, but if not helped by your buddies for too long will definitely get in trouble. He’ll run you toward a Witch, or take you into fire, or very often direct you into a pool of green noxious spit, The spit comes from the appropriately named Spitter, a tall, unpleasant creature who gobs up pools of extremely harmful toxic sludge, which if stood in will cripple your health. Perhaps you’ll get stuck in it thanks to a Charger. These hulking monsters with one enormous arm will plough into the four of you, sending as many of you flying as he can with one straight charge, and grab one of you as he passes. Then slam you repeatedly into the ground until someone comes along to help. Also joining the cast is a female Boomer (nicknamed by Valve as the “Boomette”), just for kicks, and the horror of the Wandering Witch, who staggers around areas, preventing you from simply sneaking around her hunched form.

The Spitter prevents the awful cheating of players who like to huddle in corners. Get spat upon and that tactic’s useless. She’s also smart enough to split you up, spitting pools onto stairs or pathways between your group, punishing you for not staying as a four. The Charger and Jockey similarly work to break you up, the Charger stunning and pinning, while the Jockey will smartly run you into the nearest available danger. It all weakens your teamwork, which in combination with the familiar Specials is deathly. Especially in Realism Mode.

There's really nothing that's okay with the Spitter.

This is a master stroke. Play in Realism and you lose all the hand-holding the game offers. The changes aren’t about a new nightmare setting – in fact Realism can be played at any difficulty, including Easy. It instead changes specific aspects of the game. Glows around Survivors are gone, so if you’re no longer in each other’s line of sight you can’t see your buddies. Items also don’t glow, so spotting the ammo pile or hidden health pack means coming face to face with it. Common Infected are slightly harder to kill, with headshots counting for much more damage than emptying rounds into their bodies. Significantly for a Witch-fanatic like me, the sobbing, singing dreads now kill you with one hit. Not incapacitate, but kill, no getting back up without a defib. It gives her back her power, makes her an object of fear once more. Startling her is not an option, and when it accidentally occurs becomes sheer, lunatic panic. But most importantly, it refocuses you on teamwork. While L4D1 required you to stick together to survive, it allowed dalliances. With Realism switched on, you have no choice but to huddle together, and focus on each other as much as yourself. Or you’ll be in big trouble.

Any death in Realism is a death – there’s no three strikes before you’re out. Unless you have a defib pack. These new objects allow you to resuscitate a fallen ally, carried at the expense of a health kit. Also amongst the new items are laser sights for weapons and incendiary ammo, either explosive or fire rounds that will boost a weapon for around fifty shots, but also making the battlefield a more dangerous place – zombies on fire will die much more quickly, but, you know, they’re also running around on fire. There’s a huge number of new weapons, with a variety of shotguns, pistols, and automatic rifles. You’ll find a favourite, and then crave its appearance. There’s adrenaline shots that boost your speed, health and speed at reviving fellow Survivors. There’s vials of Boomer bile to throw at enemies, causing the horde to pile upon them. And, of course, there’s melee weapons.

Oh, the lovely lovely chainsaw.

It seems impossible to believe these weren’t in the original, so obvious an inclusion as they prove to be. It’s an immediate instinct when piled upon by frenzied horde to switch to your melee (should you be carrying on instead of pistols) and slash your way through them. And like the regular weapons, you’ll quickly find a favourite and hope to find it. There’s something superb about a good old baseball bat, clobbering the Infected in brutal thwacks. But the katana is fast and horrendously capable of slicing off limbs and heads. Or perhaps you’ll prefer the comedy of a frying pan, thwanging against the enemy. Then there’s cricket bats, machete, axes, and, well, electric guitars. Oh, and I seem to have forgotten to mention the chainsaw. With a limited amount of fuel, and a noise that attracts the horde, it’s a risky tool. But a deeply, harrowingly dangerous one. Each melee weapon does horrific damage, slicing, smashing and hacking at the thousands of infected creatures that you’ll encounter in a campaign. But hey, they’re only zombies, right? The brutality of it, the astonishing gore as entrails spill from sliced open bellies, trails of blood gush from chopped limbs, blood gurgles from mouths before heads explode – they’re zombies, so it’s fine. Right? Except, well, look at the graffiti that covers the walls.

The only significant mistake in L4D2 is the pacing of the opening campaign, Dead Center. Set around and inside a mall, is a perfectly decent Left 4 Dead campaign. But despite introducing the new characters (their dialogue for this campaign is unique – they don’t yet know each other’s names, nor indeed what to call the new Special Infected, and are feeling each other out), and new enemies, it’s the least inventive of the five. It’s slightly too familiar – too much reminded me of the airport level from the original – and it fails to evoke the thrill of zombie bashing in a real-world mall in the way that, say, Dead Rising so brilliantly achieved. It’s been looted to the point of being barren, and ends up feeling sparse and sterile. Its finale, a narrative-related version of the new Scavenge mode (see below), involves frantically filling a car with gas from canisters scattered around the centre of the mall, which makes for an excellent and novel climax, but ends with their simply driving through a wall and cutting to credits. Obviously being as good as an original Left 4 Dead campaign is not a very harsh criticism – it’s still good stuff. But compared to what’s to come it’s an inauspicious opening for what goes on to be a truly remarkable game.

The mall's scavenge map is good, but Swamp Fever's is best.

Talking of Scavenge, this proves to be another fantastic new addition. Along with the regular Campaign, the truly brilliant Realism Mode (I can’t stress enough how much this adds to the experience, forcing teamwork and communication, and making the game much more terrifying), and Versus Mode letting you take turns to play as the Special Infected against another team of four in the regular campaign levels, is Scavenge, a new team-based multiplayer that approaches the game in a brand new way.

It turns the game into an arena-based multiplayer. Each of the six Scavenge maps (one from each campaign, and two from Hard Rain) takes place in a contained area from the level, requiring the Survivor team to collect sixteen gas cannisters and get them to a tank, car, generator and so on. The Infected have to stop them. The game starts with a minute and a half on the clock, with twenty seconds added for each successfully deposited cannister, but the game is only over once the clock has run down and no Survivor is carrying a can. This means that things become brilliantly frantic, players scrambling for a can as the clock gets near to zero, the Infected taking advantage of this by setting up traps, Spitters making the area around the filling point impossible to get near, Boomers vomiting at just the right moment to ensure anyone filling is failing thanks to Common Infected attacks, and so on. Jockeying someone away into a corner right at the last moment is hilariously mean, and a well-timed Hunter has never been so effective.

Because a Scavenge game takes place in a contained location, it means tactics can be repeated and refined, especially if you play best of three or five. It gives you a chance to specialise your skills in a way that Versus couldn’t without hours and hours of play. It makes grudge matches that bit more effective, even if it means losing out on the thrill of Versus mode’s desperate dashes to reach slightly farther than the previous team. Oh, and there’s also ten maps ready for Survival mode as well, of course, but I should say I didn’t get a chance to play these before writing this.

Gore? Well, there's a bit.

Left 4 Dead 2 takes an already good idea to the next stage. Every aspect of it is designed around how people play games, and indeed how people played Left 4 Dead 1. Sneaks and cheeky work-arounds are blocked with cunning new techniques, enemies and challenges. The storytelling that was admired before is increased, but without its impeding on your own ability to create narratives with friends. The crescendo events are ramped up, tougher, and often more explosive. And the new modes, Realism and Scavenge have immediately become my favourite ways to play. Alongside the perfectly adequate but comparatively underwhelming beginning with Dead Center, is the enormous smartness of chapters like Hard Rain and Swamp Fever, or the ridiculous inventiveness of Dark Carnival, and indeed the frenzied intensity of the final campaign, Parish, making for an absolutely exceptional time.


  1. Javier-de-Ass says:

    sounds ok, despite my disinterest

  2. Steve the Imperial Guardsmen says:

    Outstanding review, although I still will probably wait until it’s cheaper, not for any anti-Valve or boycott related reasons, simply because the myriad of other games coming in the near future, and not having infinite sums of cash deter me from purchasing it.

    • Steve the Imperial Guardsmen says:

      Also it’s 5am, does RPS ever rest?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Well it’s the sort of thing to go to bed early for, Steve.

  3. army of none says:

    Excellent review, hit all the points I wanted to know about. Can’t wait for both the game to unlock on steam, and, uh… time to play it for the hours I want to :)

  4. 1stGear says:

    See, the thing is, Left 4 Dead 1 got the same glowing reviews when it was released and deservedly so. It’s two months later, when everyone had played through the four campaigns endlessly and was now bored of the game that its major crippling flaw became apparent.

    I never had any doubt that Left 4 Dead 2 was going to be a good game on release. Its whether or not its going to be a good game a few months down the road that is staying my wallet.

    • qrter says:

      1stGear has a point, there.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      “Major crippling flaw?”

      Personally, I’m still playing it. (Or was, up until about two hours ago. Since then I’ve been fighting with Steam to get it to actually give me the game… but that’s another story.)

    • Alexander Norris says:

      The problem I have with L4D2 is that it highlights just how little effort was put into the first one during development. L4D2 looks better, sounds better, makes better use of its gimmicks and plays smoother but ultimately, it’s the same game with a slight overhaul to make it shinier. If both games had had an RRP of $30 I don’t see where the problem would be, but at $75 a pop, no thank you.

      I’ll wait for this to get so discounted I could buy it with my day’s lunch money.

    • Alec Meer says:

      “just how little effort was put into the first one during development”.

      I’m not sure where you got your proof that multi-million dollar game in development for years involved “little effort”, but it sounds like an amazing story! Can we see it?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Guys seriously, how can you call this a sequel? It’s just the original with everything made better and a bunch of new content, systems and game-modes.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I’m not suggesting the first one was rubbish, Mr Meer; I’m suggesting that the second one is so much better that it makes the gritty urban look and feel of the original that much more boring. Given what L4D2 looks and sounds like, it’s entirely possible to imagine that Valve could have made L4D as interesting to see and hear as L4D2 is; I’m just not a fan of urban decay and minimalistic audio design.

      Although on second thought it does look like I’m saying the first one was rubbish. It wasn’t. I still think they charged too much then and they’re charging too much now, but I found L4D reasonably enjoyable despite the boring visuals.

    • Richeh says:

      I don’t think improvement is proof of original shoddy workmanship; L4D is still a fantastic and unique game, or you wouldn’t be reading this. You can’t get everything perfect first time, look at every other software product on the market. Oh, and everything else made by people ever.

    • Ian says:

      I’d say it’s more likely it’s simply a case of lessons learned and different/improved design decisions rather than more or less effort being put into the two games.

      Either way, will now try to get it somewhere as cheap as possible because suddenly I want it.

    • Vinraith says:

      Hmm, original response deleted, perhaps justifiably so. Very well, how shall I put this more delicately?

      Alexander didn’t say anything that warranted a response as sarcastically insulting as Alec’s. It’s one thing to insult people that are openly trolling in this thread, it’s another to attack those expressing honest opinions and concerns. Perhaps, as Alexander suggests, his intent was misunderstood. I hope that’s the case.

  5. somnolentsurfer says:

    So all we need is for them to actually release the game. Why does Valve persist in making these promises when they can never deliver on them?

    I was up far too late playing Dragon Age, so I thought I’d have a quick go before bed. Well, that was a foolish hope. Maybe it’ll be here in the morning.

  6. Vinraith says:

    An informative review, I appreciate the attention to detail despite the gushing enthusiasm. In particular, with respect to realism mode:

    “Glows around Survivors are gone, so if you’re no longer in each other’s line of sight you can’t see your buddies. Items also don’t glow, so spotting the ammo pile or hidden health pack means coming face to face with it.”

    That, frankly, sounds completely unplayable. Realism mode was one of the only things that really interested me about this game, but considering the utter chaos of playing L4D an inability to easily find supplies and each other just sounds like a exercise in psychosis-inducing frustration. As it was in the demo I couldn’t distinguish Ellis from a zombie, and that was with character glow ON.

    Other than that it sounds like more of the same, but refined. That’s great for big fans of the original, but I proved to myself with the demo that I’m just burnt out on the concept itself. New levels and infected don’t help if the game feels the same, and to me it really does. I’m sure those that got enormous play out of the original will find a lot to love, here, but it sounds like I can safely pass. There’s nothing wrong with that, this is turning into one hell of a late fall, winter, and spring for PC games.

    • Vinraith says:

      Oh, quick question: Am I right to assume there’s been no significant improvement to the friendly AI since the demo? Still no mechanism for giving bot allies commands?

    • Inanimotioon says:

      I just got done playing realism mode, and though it is significantly more difficult playing without the outline of the glow, it makes it quite a bit more fun.

    • Clovis says:

      /me makes a note that Vinraith likes his games carebeared. Hmmm… that doesn’t actually seem to jive with his previous comments…. except when it comes to L4D2… hmm….

    • Vinraith says:


      No, I like my games challenging, but I don’t think muddying the user interface is a legitimate way to introduce challenge. I was hoping realism mode would require me to play the game better/more carefully, not simply take away the tools I need to play it well. Removing the health and mana meters from Diablo would make the game harder, but not in a fun way.

  7. Frosty says:

    I’ve never been so happy to be getting up early for work….

    You have worried most of my L4D2 fears Mr Walker. I am now quite convinced to buy it.

    When I have the time that is. I still need to get Dragon Age. (No shouting at me AsubstanceD or Garetta. You two can play on your own a while.)

  8. thefanciestofpants says:

    Gaahh so close.

  9. Saul says:

    Sounds like exactly, precisely what I’d hoped for. The addiction continues.

    C’mon, come out already!

  10. Patsy says:

    As an Australian, that review makes me so very very sad.

  11. MrBiggles says:

    Should have been an expansion on L4D1… They started making this game so shortly after L4D1 came out that they never focused on the promised updates of the first one (level-maker, etc.). If this is how it’s going to continue, L4D3 will be in production in a couple months. I think I’ll save my money and skip this one.

    • Vinraith says:

      They released the SDK (level-maker) back in April, actually, though I agree that L4D1 never got most of the support that was promised for it.

      I’ll be intrigued to see how they handle support for this one, purely as a matter of assessing the “new” Valve. Will there be the kind of free support that was promised for L4D1 but didn’t materialize? Paid DLC? An expansion? Or will we see L4D3 some time in 2010? It’ll be fun to sit back and watch, with no investment, this time.

    • MultiVaC says:

      An expansion that’s bigger than the game itself? That would be strange.

      I’m pretty sure the bots are better in L4D2, when I went back to play L4D after the demo of L4D2 I was shocked at how dumb they were in the original.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Ultimately, what Valve does will have a fairly large impact on the PC gaming scene until the day they cease to be relevant, which I don’t foresee being any time soon, so I very much doubt I’ll be able to sit back and watch with no personal investment in the matter regardless of whether or not I buy L4D2.

    • Clovis says:

      From the demo I didn’t quite get the same impression; especially not from the review. How many expansion packs have you played where the graphics (especially the fantastic new gibbing system) have been overhauled that much? Come on, you be trollin’, no?

      Also, I think the the L4D2 expansionistas would actually be doubly furious if this was actually sold as an expansion. Because if it was an expansion it should have been free, as promised, right? The only way to shrug off the meager free additions to L4D is to see that L4D2 is a proper sequal.

      Also, to be fair, I think I might be trolling the L4D2 haters…

  12. Scott says:

    Awesome review, I’ve now become truly excited.

    I’m informing 3 of my best Steam friends that we all need to do our first playthroughs together, on Realism. That shit would be intense.

  13. Serenegoose says:

    Hmm. Will need to play the demo. I actually found things like survival mode gave L4D1 a real boost to longevity, as well as finding a group of people to play with (easier said than done) I never got into l4d1 after community made maps started being created, as my microphone broke and I’ve still not replaced it. I’m concerned that playing the demo with randoms will not help me actually enjoy the game though.

    • Vinraith says:

      IIRC the demo will no longer be available once the game launches, so you’d better hurry.

    • Dodo says:

      The demo is still avalible so probably they’ve learned their lesson and have the demo online forever. Although I think they will remove it soon as you can easely copy the full version maps into the demo.

  14. Reverend Speed says:

    L4D2! HURRAH!

  15. The Dark One says:

    This review is all well and good, but we all know that your readership won’t be satisfied until you post an in-depth analysis of the gnomes and how they connect the L4D and HL universes.

    • Spork says:

      Isn’t it obvious? The gnome you launched into orbit in Ep2 went through the wormhole, round Xen then arrived back at a parallel Earth. What you see in L4D2 is multiple echoes of the same gnome.

  16. Spod says:

    Horses for courses I guess. Me and a few friends I made on L4D near its release still play regularly and it’s still massive amounts of fun. Granted, we’ve not played campaign in God knows how long, but VS just *never* gets boring. I’m particularly excited to play VS on this because they’ve added so many new specials to play. Should make things a lot more interesting.

    Thing is, this game is nothing without good chums to play with. If you play with randoms it, more often than not, results in a thoroughly disappointing/irritating/infuriating experience.

  17. Spod says:

    Grr, the above was supposed to be in response to 1stGear.

  18. Now wait a sec... says:

    It’s already here? Gee whiz, looking forward to this. The review was outstanding, I love the way RPS’ culture of reviewing stays intact.

  19. Serenegoose says:

    Vinraith said:
    IIRC the demo will no longer be available once the game launches, so you’d better hurry.

    Apparently valve hate my money then. What could conceivably be the point of that?

    • Vinraith says:

      I didn’t understand it when they did it with the first Left 4 Dead, and I still don’t.

    • Senethro says:

      Because demo communities form. There are still people who play BF1942 demo on demo servers and call themselves demo community players. Lunacy!

      If the demo is too good, they don’t need the game. If its bad, it can harm sales. So, demos are a privilege, not a right.

    • pepper says:

      Senethro, that’s a group you dont want to appeal to in the first place and wont buy your game anyway. The only thing there doing is scaring away legitimate customers.

    • Richeh says:

      Well it is a pretty generous demo. I don’t think it’s a whole campaign, but it’s enough of one for me to have played through it three times. And got different weapons every time.

      As if the skillet wasn’t enough.


    • Serenegoose says:

      Senethro: Demos privelige both me and Valve. I’m not acting like I’m entitled to the demo. Similarly, Valve is not entitled to my money. I want a chance to try this game properly before I buy it. If that’s not acceptable, I’ll keep my cash, because I’ve got so many games on my plate right now that I can be discriminating in my purchases. So if Valve consider it to be an overall negative to provide a consistently accessable demo, then I consider it as much a negative to part with my money on an educated guess. Simple.

  20. Jorlin says:

    Just seems to me as if it was more of the same… slightly better… if you did not like L4D1 you apparently won’t like this one either…

  21. alset says:

    To be fair the demo was available for a couple of weeks and pretty obvious in your steam games list if you bothered to check.

    It’s very possible they are closing it because the servers will be under a lot of stress or non-functional for the first week with just the enormous amount of bought copies. Add free demo users to that and it would be a clusterfuck of major proportions.

  22. RLacey says:

    Helpful review. After reading, I’m definitely going to get this game, but I’m also definitely going to wait for a price drop.

  23. Rinox says:

    Can’t wait to get home and play now. My usual L4D posse will be MIA this weekend, though. :(

  24. AngryInternetman says:

    L4D2 Boycott group is, too, filled with people who bought and are playing L4D2. Check it out.

    • Richeh says:

      Mmm. The people united will never be ooh, shiny thing.

    • Gorgeras says:

      ‘Filled’ is hardly the right word. I took this lie part when it was said about the MW2 Boycott group and my exact same case applies to this one.

      The current number of online and in-game players in the L4D2 Boycott group is a minority of the group. Of that active group, a minority are playing Left4Dead 2 at this time. A minority of a minority. Unless Gabe releases those statistics he talked about regarding Boycotters pre-ordering and purchasing L4D2, we have no idea how many have actually not followed through.

      And without a survey, we don’t know how many have simply given in or have accepted that Valve has met their terms. Whilst Walking_Target thinks Valve has done as much as can be asked(but needed to change the Boycott Manifesto to make this fit), he hasn’t pre-ordered L4D2.

  25. Zaphid says:

    I’ll wait for a sale, the first one was good, but I get way more mileage out of TF2. That being said, soldier and demoman unlock, for Christmas, go !

  26. RogB says:

    I still dont like the new bland characters. mod for l4d1 characters, please!

  27. Lobotomist says:

    To bad i payed 50$ to play L4D2 beta. Now they ask me to pay 50$ for final release.

    And 100$ is to much to pay for any game. Sorry

    Boycott, or we will see more of this kind of unfair buisness

  28. Po0py says:

    I was patiently waiting for some reviews to trickle in and when they do Valve goes and ditches the pre-order deal. What a flying flange of phlem of a thing to do. So fuckit. I’m waiting for the Christmas sale.

    • Richeh says:

      Not really, the whole point of a preorder deal is that you don’t have reviews. Now they know they’ve got glorious reviews and some hype going, they don’t need to discount. There was a demo out and everything – if you didn’t trust them enough to flop your cash out blind they don’t actually owe you anything.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Isn’t the pre-order supposed to be, y’know, BEFORE the game comes out?


    • Po0py says:

      Here in the UK, you can still pre order it at £29.99 as it is not released until Friday. Just no 10% off. I found that the demo was kind of boring. It just felt like the same as the first game with new weapons and characters. I simply wanted to wait until all the NDA was out of the way and I could have all the info from a trusted source. John Walkers review seems much more informative than any previews I’ve been reading. The stuff about the rain flooding the level and changing the gameplay entirely, I’ve simply not heard before. That really caught my attention. I accept that 10% is a rather pithy thing to complain about but we are in the middle of a recession. I’ll get the game eventually. I’ll play it and love it. Back to Dragon Age for me.

  29. Wilson says:

    Sounds pretty good. I’m surprised you didn’t mention how much better the regular infected feel to kill now (or maybe it wasn’t such a big thing for you). When I first played the demo, I was impressed by how much meatier the weapons felt, thanks to the regular zombies taking damage better. You describe it well with “The brutality of it, the astonishing gore as entrails spill from sliced open bellies, trails of blood gush from chopped limbs, blood gurgles from mouths before heads explode” but it isn’t just the melee weapons, it’s all the guns too.

    This sounds like it is a good sequel rather than an overpriced expansion, but I’ll still wait for it to get cheaper in case the novelty wears off after a while like it did with the original L4D (I didn’t play much VS).

  30. Tei says:

    I may buy it wen is €20. Still use matchmarking, and feels “wrong” to me. Maybe I have played L4D too much, so the ways L4D2 moves is not what i expect…

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      That’s why friends and community servers are here for…to bypass matchmaking :)

  31. Tom says:

    This is what Valve gets for being so respectful and communicative to the community, because its out in a year (a turn round for many game sequels) people go on a boycotting rampage. if this was exactly the same game but out 2 years later we wouldn’t have these problems. Surely Modern Warfare 2 is just the same game as cod4 wrapped in a shiny new coat and polished and expanded? I agree that left 4 dead 1 wasn’t expanded sufficiently but I also believe this totally justifies the ‘2’ on the end of the title.

    Every review I have read so far of this has been glowing and I cannot wait. I am also looking forward to playing through the oft-overlooked delights of commentary mode to see what pointers Valve took from the first game.

    • Gorgeras says:

      No. No. No.

      It’s not simply that the game was out in just a year; which is not an average turnaround for any franchise: it’s twice as fast as even most milk-a-thon franchises pull. Most franchises only manage expansion packs in just a year and usually these ‘mini-sequels’ like Crysis: Warhead and Dawn of War: Winter Assault are not sold as full-games at full-game prices.

      Valve haven’t simply stepped over the line and committed the crime of being an ordinary game company. They’ve become(at least for this franchise) the WORST kind of game company in a matter of months and no PR gimmicks change this. They didn’t even bother with a slow transitional decline from the greatest PC developer ever to mini pre-2006 EA; they jumped straight into it and it stinks. They sold L4D on a premise that abused the trust their core player-base had in them. They will never get it back and they are stuck with the fickle, low-maintenance, low-loyalty, high-fanboyism, low-standard trash they have decided to market to now. They might as well become a publicly-traded company now seeing as they’re going to act like one.

    • Tom says:

      Ok maybe I was being a tad optimistic with the year turn around there but if they were going ‘full EA’ as it were we’d have a new left 4 dead out every yer ie Left 4 Dead 09 and other such craziness. All I see is a company that worked its ass off improving and tweaking a core experience they themselves invented that had not been attempted before, now all the graft has been done on the first game (very good and certainly not a beta you madmen) they have the confidence to pull all their discarded ideas from the first, add some more and mold it into a game triumphantly improved in every aspect.

      I could understand if people cried foul if this contained the same amount of content as the first (4 visually similar campaigns, the odd new weapon and spec infected no new modes) but this expands and refines in all the ways a sequel should. The proof is in the reviews and the fact Valve simply make some of the best games on PC on a regular basis. For people arguing it is a similar experience well what does one expect? Halo has been reiterating and refining for ages and modern warfare 2’s multiplayer is similarly subtle in its changes to the formula. The fact is Valve still doesn’t have any competition for this type of game so until that forces them to change up they instead bulked up the core concept considerably. They have my money and frankly they’ve earned it.

    • Funky Badger says:

      Its now a crime to be a games company?


  32. CMaster says:

    I’ve always thought from everything Valve have had to say on L4D2 that it isn’t that L4D2 is in any way an “expansion” of L4D. It’s simply what L4D should have been in the first place, if they hadn’t bought it towards the end from Turtle Rock and had to bash it into some kind of shape. A much more satisfactory amount of content, the poor crescendo events removed, some game modes for shorter games added in, the entertaining character chatter expanded on dramatically.

    That said, I played L4D to death. I’ve not been sold at all that its worth my money for more of it and neither are my friends.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      How does that make any sense at all?

      “Man, I totally played hundreds of hours of Left4Dead, making it absolutely worth the purchase. What? A sequel? Why would I PAY MONEY for that?!”

      PC Gamers, I want to strangle you all sometimes.

    • CMaster says:

      No, you misunderstand me.
      I played L4D a lot. It was good. But then I got burned out on it and despite having tried a few times, simply can’t get back into it again.
      Playing the L4D2 demo left me with a similar feeling. A feeling that “this is good, but I’m not interested”. I’m not at all sure there is anything Valve could do to get me into it again.

      I’d happily recommend L4D2 to other people. In a lot of ways, I rather wish that I’d waited for L4D2 rather than playing the first one, seeing as L4D2 seems to have got things much more right.
      I merely saying that to me, I can’t see that I’d get value for my time at all with L4D2.

      Do you understand now?

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      I haven’t got burned on the first one as there were way too many other games…so I might get burned on the second one…after a discount :)

  33. Psychopomp says:

    Dragging that gnome all the way through Dark Carnival felt great.

    Dead Center’s finale was nigh-impossible for my group on anything other than easy :(

  34. teo says:

    Why can’t he think that?
    Why have so many problems with other ppl’s opinions?

    If people think it looks like an expansion they’re not morons just because you don’t agree with them. It seems everyone who’s up on L4D2 has a need to belittle those who aren’t. Not saying you did, but it’s everywhere. “Oh you didn’t think L4D was worth the money even tho you played it x-hour, you’re a moron” etc. and at the same time people say length of games is irrelevant when they defend short SP campaigns they love

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      In general most people’s opinions are stupid, that’s a good rule of thumb to apply to the internet.

      If you think it’s an expansion when it’s pretty clear that it’s not then yes, you are pretty damn stupid. Since when do expansion packs have more content than the original game? And more to the point, since when did ‘more of everything, everything that was already there improved drastically and several new modes/innovations’ not constitute a sequel? What planet do people who think this way game on exactly? Were there a dictionary definition of a sequel to a videogame, that would be it.

      Oh god no, it used the same engine, regardless of looking a lot better! 10 BUCKS ONLY

    • Richeh says:

      It’s not the sentiment, it’s the outrage, and the massive sense of entitlement. They make a game and, er… you pay money for it. If you think you’re entitled to more than what you paid for just because you enjoy the game, then you’re greedy.

      Surely the reward is that you enjoyed it? You enjoyed it that much they overhauled the whole thing for you and brought in some new ideas they had, and you’re crying because you didn’t get it cheaper, or get these ideas first time. It’s ungrateful, it’s greedy, and it’s churlish. And the Englishman in me is sickened.

      That’s an abstract “you” btw, not, y’know, you.

  35. Deerhoof says:

    I agree.

    PC Gamers, you suck!
    Your attitudes and opinions are ALL contradictory, and ass-backwards.

    It’s 26 quid.
    You wouldn’t pay 26 quid for hundreds of hours of hard work by a team of guys (and girls), and for a game you’ll spent 5-10 hours playing?
    You WOULD spend 26 quid for a night on the lash, 5 or 6 hours of people shouting, loud music and standing up because all the seats are full, and experiencing memory loss the next day, coupled with a mild/servere hangover?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Well actually if I only spent 10 hours playing it for 26 quid I would feel let down. 2 pounds an hour is about the limit I’ll go unless it’s an absolutely stellar experience.

      You also can’t compare all forms of entertainment on an hour/cost basis, they are not equal.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Game pricing varies depending on where you are. Stop assuming that everyone will get games at half-price thanks to amazon preorder bonuses. You’d be complaining too if you had to pay £45 for a game.

  36. oceanclub says:

    I definitely prefer the feel of the weapons in L4D2, and it’s _almost_ enough to tempt me to buy the game full-price. But I’ll probably hang on for a bit, got enough games on my plate as it is, plus my desktop is dead anyway.


  37. Electrophotonic says:

    I wasn’t paying attention, the store I pre-ordered the game from (and which actually emailed out demo activation steam codes to everybody) won’t be releasing this game ’til the 19th. :( That’s what I get for not paying in advance for pre-order goodies. It seems I can just cancel the pre-order and buy it in a different store though, how sneaky…


  38. RGS says:

    Only played the demo a little so far. I own L4D, but never really got into it.

    From the demo the things that annoyed me the most was the huge obtrusive HUD and low FoV (which also positions your weapons two inches off your nose, console FPS style). Anyone know any fixes for these issues? It may sound silly but they really prevent me from enjoying the game.

    I love the look of Valve’s games, there’s a lot more artistry in their models, environments and lighting etc than most games and despite the aging engine it looks great. + I love this consideration and attention to detail. I’d really like to get into this one, ‘realism’ sounds up my street (don’t like the glowing stuff for a start).

    Minimal HUD, wider FoV please, anyone?

  39. pkt-zer0 says:

    Heh, as if having more content than L4D1 was some sort of achievement.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Because 20 maps for a multiplayer game isn’t a fucking ton.

  40. pkt-zer0 says:

    Yay, reply function failing again. That was @TotalBiscuit.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Whatever your subjective assessment of the amount of content in L4D1 is, has zero bearing on the validity of L4D2 as a sequel.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      So it’s a sequel because it almost has enough content for a proper game now, unilke its predecessor, that justifies the “L4D2 beta” complaints against the first game.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I think considering it’s popularity and the fact that ‘enough content’ is an entirely nebulous term when dealing with multiplayer games, we can safely assume that remark is nothing more than meaningless puffery.

      Yes, yes I did want an excuse to use the word puffery.

  41. Ninja says:

    I’m likely not buying this one, either.

    I’ve played both of the demos, and enjoyed them (somewhat). But I know for a fact that I’m not putting a penny into this game until Valve shows to me that they are planning on updating it, and rather commonly.

    TF2 has kept me busy for insane amounts of time, rivaling even WoW in hours played (Probably passing it, actually) thanks to the updates. I see everybody buying l4d one and saying “Oh my, this is amazing.” I consider getting it, but decide against it to buy more WoW time. 2 months later, I see everybody else playing other things, while I’m happy playing WoW.

    So I’m not buying l4d2 either, until Valve assures me that they aren’t going to realese l4d3 This time next year. I love Valve but that was a little stupid. I don’t see why they couldn’t have realesed an expansion pack instead of an entirely new game.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Because then people would complain that it looks like free DLC.

    • lemmy101 says:

      “So I’m not buying l4d2 either, until Valve assures me that they aren’t going to realese l4d3 This time next year. I love Valve but that was a little stupid. I don’t see why they couldn’t have realesed an expansion pack instead of an entirely new game.”

      You only have to play it to be thankful it’s not an expansion pack. The engine feels much better and smoother than L4D 1 making it a much better experience.

      The price they are charging is what, one trip for a couple of people to the cinema with popcorn? One night on the town? One DVD box set? Why do game developers have some unique obligation to provide 1000s of hours for £30~?

    • jalf says:

      £30? Not everyone lives in happy candy land, you know, where games cost a mere £30 ;)

    • oceanclub says:

      “TF2 has kept me busy for insane amounts of time, rivaling even WoW in hours played (Probably passing it, actually) thanks to the updates.”

      …while you’ve probably spent a fraction of the money on TF2 then you have on WoW. But Valve are the bad guys?


    • HybridHalo says:

      Blizzard have been releasing yearly expansion packs haven’t they?

      I honestly don’t understand the problem you’re having with say, awesome new experiences and refinements to a new concept yearly when you’re paying out of your nose monthly and again every year or so on an expansion to trudge through a game which whilst well designed, doesn’t exactly innovate.

      And that’s assuming L4D3 hits in a years time.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Nope, at current rates, 1 every 2 years.

  42. jamie says:

    Sorry hope this isnt already mentioned above but Im in the UK and was wanting to purchase l4d2 on steam as its meant to be out, but you can only pre order to play on friday even though according to the official group it went live at 5am.
    Is it the case that only people who pre ordered it can play now? Everywhere it says its available on steam from 17 nov but steam has other ideas. Is it cos im the uk? Thanks

  43. Rinox says:

    When Valve takes 10³ years to develop the next H-L title/installment people are complaining about how long it takes. When they take a year to develop a new L4D title people are complaining about how fast they release a new title.

    Maybe we should all just stop complaining? After all, even with the minor -unavoidable- disappointments, Valve has been consistently churning out games that were at the very least good and has no doubt been kinder to the PC community than the vast majority of games developers.

    I say we all rage some more about IW and Modern Manshooter II instead of this. ;-)

    • Archonsod says:

      MW2 and Valve have the same problem. I got bored of linear, scripted shooters shortly after Duke Nukem was released …

    • John Walker says:

      “Maybe we should all just stop complaining?”


    • Bigolslabomeat says:

      Whenever I see “MW2” I read it in my head as “Mechwarrior 2”.

      Maybe this is because I am old.

  44. lemmy101 says:

    “shedding new light on the original concept (sorry)”

    And you had a go at Carrion Reanimating’s name. :p

  45. FunkWeasel says:

    I still play L4D, and although I’ve not yet played L4D2 other than the demo (which didn’t really do it for me), I’m really looking forward to playing the full version of it tonight when I get home from work.

    I never once thought of boycotting L4D2. Sure, some more free content for L4D would have been nice, but why the hell wouldn’t I want to support Valve and not buy it, when they consistently(?) produce amazing games?

    I really appreciate everything that’s gone into these two games. I’m sure L4D was more of an experiment than a game, but do I hell begrudge paying for it. It’s given me some of the best fun I’ve ever had. I’m sure the sequel will offer that and much, much more.

  46. Spatula says:

    Think it looks ace. Actually had it bought for me by some chaps i play with online- way to go LFD community :-)

    I still can’t believe the grief Valve are getting over a sequel. They have delivered on their promises and have produced what looks like an awesome sequel in record time.

    But no, i’m going to be angry and shouty and wail over things i have no right to wail over…. geesh.

  47. TauQuebb says:

    I agree wholeheartedly there.

  48. HybridHalo says:

    A couple of points:
    1 – I’ve paid over £25 for expansions in the past which required the original game to run.
    2 – Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is as much of a CoD4 Expansion as L4D2 is a L4D expansion. My experience of the content so far has been more than good enough to justify purchasing L4D2. I honestly believe those who claim this could have been an expansion can’t have actually played it.

    In agreement with TotalBiscuit, there is a crowd of whining PC Gamers who I’d like to strangle. So to these people – Please buy L4D2 so I can live out this urge whilst my other friends spit, vomit and jockey you.


  49. monchberter says:

    Pre ordered. Playing it. Enjoying it. I put serious time into the demo and that’s funny as i didn’t even bother finishing the ‘Crash Course’ DLC for the first game. This game improves on every single thing from the first. And the key to that is expansion and lack of repetition. It really does come down to having more toys to play with.

    All those people complaining about their game not offering enough; you bough sequels to other games right? If anything this release is more about Valve competing with console release schedules, the annual FIFA’s and COD and BF all of which offer limited variation on a theme but sell in the millions.

    People know what they like and like what they know. This means profit.

  50. jamie says:

    why dont they just let me buy the fugging game!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its out!!!!!!!