The sun was shining and the weather was ideal this morning in Los Angeles, but that didn’t stop the undead from rearing their rotting faces. In a dimly lit room on the second floor of the LA Convention Center, Gamer Limit got their hands on Left 4 Dead 2, the sequel to Valve’s fantastic zombie apocalypse game.
To find out more about our fight through the deep south using incendiary rounds and frying pans against new special infected, hit the jump.
Starting out our hands-on time with L4D2, we were thrust into Havana during the infancy of the infection. Filling the bloodstained shoes of the original four survivors are Coach, a burly native southerner, Nick, a baseball-capped survivor, Ellis, a leisure-suited city man, and Rochelle, a strong willed woman.
The sequel contains five campaign scenarios, the last of which, “The Parish,” was playable. The unfortunate four find themselves in Savannah, Georgia battling their way through New Orleans and The French Quarter as the human condition “goes south.” The geographical evidence of the virus is minimal, indicating that unlike Zoey, Louis and the gang, the infection is just spreading its roots. But that doesn’t mean that things are any easier.
The afternoon sun blazes down on the four survivors as they make their way through the streets. They’re immediately assaulted by common infected, and instinctively begin firing upon them. Flesh is shredded and bones are shattered as the bullets decimate the oncoming horde. Arms are torn from their sockets, chunks of zombies’ abdomens are vaporized, and everything is all around gorier than the first game. A corpse even sailed through the air with its intestines sailing behind it like a macabre birthday streamer.
The weapons have also undergone changes since the first game. The pistol types vary from a common glock to something that looks like it belong to Solid Snake. The combat shotgun looks exactly like the one that the guy who gets torn apart by Velociraptors in Jurassic Park carries. The survivors even stumble upon incendiary rounds for the shotgun, which set the infected ablaze with every round that connects. They make taking down tanks a little less of a nightmare.
Not every zombie will succumb to a fiery demise, however, with the addition of the “Uncommon Common.” These unique zombies possess characteristics that give them a subtle edge over the rest of the common infected. For example, in The Parish, occasionally players will spot a zombie shambling around with a Hazardous Materials suit on. These former warriors against the virus are now not only looking to tear you apart, but they are impervious to Molotov cocktails and incendiary rounds. Let’s hope they don’t make Tank-sized Haz Mat suits.
Speaking of the Tank, there’s a new special infected that looks to be imitating him. “Chargers,” as they’re called, are implemented into the game to bull-rush the survivors and dissuade them from camping. The ornery overalled enemy charges the group of survivors with the speed of a freight train, b-lining from one end of the area to the other, taking out anything in its way. They go down much easier than Tanks, but given their speed they can be incredibly difficult to anticipate. The Charger is only one of three new infected to be spreading to L4D2.
When you’re not dodging the new special infected, you might find yourself wading through a crowd of corpses while flailing a fire axe. Melee weapons have been added to L4D2, and they can be picked up without having to sacrifice the pistol or primary weapon. The fire axe cleaves zombies in half with slow, devastating swings. If crowd control is your thing, the frying pan sports tremendous impact, sending multiple zombies flying away from you after hitting them. Be wary, however, because if you need to pull out a firearm your melee weapon will be tossed to the wayside. Also coming to the sequel are the chainsaw and baseball bat.
Melee won’t be much helped with the Witch, however, as she now has more mobility than in the first L4D. Since the sun is shining, the Witch is no longer limited to crying in a dark corner while waiting for a group of survivors to piss her off. Watch your step in those dim corridors, because stepping in the Witch’s path could spell your doom.
If the addition of the Charger isn’t evidence enough that Valve is focused on disrupting camping and exploitative tactics during intense scenarios, than the new mobile crescendos is the nail in the coffin. During one scene in the campaign, the survivors stumble upon a labyrinthine construction site just as a blaring alarm begins to sound from far atop the scaffolding. As in any crescendo event, waves of infected come charging at the survivors, but this time they must be warded off while navigating fences and piles of lumber, making their way towards the alarm in order to shut it off. The urgency of the situation adds pressure that is comparable to the ruthless survival mode.
Speaking of modes, L4D2 will include every mode from the original game right off the bat. If survival mode, five new campaigns, and multiplayer aren’t enough for you, Valve also stated that a new game mode is in development. So are additions to L4D1.
Other improvements to L4D2 include dynamic weather effects that are controlled by the AI director. Intimidating southern thunder storms will roll in, drastically reducing the survivors’ visibility. The AI also opens up differing paths for players to take depending on the flow of the match. These additions dramatically alter each play through so that the experience will offer something new.
Luckily, Chet Faliszek, a writer for Left 4 Dead, was able to answer a few of Gamer Limit’s questions via a quick Q&A session.
Gamer Limit: “Can we expect any new modes for Left 4 Dead 2, in addition to survival mode from the original being packaged in the game?”
Chuck: “We’re working on a new mode being shipped with Left 4 Dead 2, that we can’t disclose at this time, but rest assured, it will be awesome”.
Gamer Limit: “Fans of the original Left 4 Dead have been clamoring for a ‘normal zombie’ method of play in versus mode, when you’re waiting to respawn. Can we expect to see this come to fruition in Left 4 Dead 2?”
Chuck: “We found that it just wouldn’t work. The logistics just didn’t work out, because by the time you actually became a normal infected, found the survivors, you’d just be ready to respawn as a special. It just wasn’t practical.”
Gamer Limit: “Can we expect any new special infected characters this time around?”
Chuck: “The Charger is one of the three new infected we’ll be introducing in Left 4 Dead 2. We are planning on adding two more.”
If trigger finger has been itching for fresh zombie apocalypse action, don’t fret, because L4D2 is well worth the wait. This game is everything a fan of the original could ask for without straying form the tried and true formula of the first game. Your distress call has been received, and Left 4 Dead 2 is on its way November 17th, 2009.
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