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Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2

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Published by drtarkan72
Left4dead2 reviews by PC gamer magazine.
Left4dead2 reviews by PC gamer magazine.

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Published by: drtarkan72 on Sep 06, 2009
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By Evan Lahti
Back 4 More!
Five new campaigns,four more survivors, three insane melee weapons,and new special infected to fight, too. Oh, and onesurprising release date: this holiday. Hang on toyour health kits.
n the countof four, a highschool footballcoach will lead me tomy doom.
He’s holding a fryingpan, trying to bolster our team with a fewwords before we outrun another horde of infected. It’s probably not the sort of peptalk he’s used to giving under Friday nightlights, but we’ll take it.
“When we openthis door, it’s going tosound an alarm,”
he starts.We’re prepping to exit a checkpoint thegovernment used as an evacuation areafor survivors, an abandoned trailer whereLouisianans were filtered like cattle wheneveryone fled the city. Anyone who didn’tshow signs of infection would walk thislinked maze of fences, then board busesto take them over the bridge. I roll a bandage over my forearm while Coachclarifies the gameplan.“They’ll keep coming until we de-activate the siren
if we staystill when we hit this,we’re gonna die.
 We needto make it to that tower.”
Left 4 Dead 
frontman Chet Faliszek points to awooden watchpost tower in the parkinglot. Faliszek isn’t an actual high schoolfootball coach, but it makes sense that he’splaying one in his game: He knows thisturf much better that we do. This isn’t ourhome court—a zombie shooter set in thedeep south, often in broad daylight and onunfamiliar terrain, with new boss infectedwe haven’t fought before. In other words,we need all the help we can get.
Coach cracks thedoor, and we run likehell.
It’s a track meet to the tower toswitch off the alert horn. “We have to keepmoving,
keep moving 
,” Faliszek reminds me,catching a few of us crouching into a de-fensive stance. We try to make our chorusof mouse clicks louder than the scream-ing wave of unpeople swarming around.I backpedal around the narrow maze.“Smoker!” a teammate cries out.
He’ssnared, and I have toleave him.
We’re in a foot race,and turning around would only bury us inmore infected. I jump-climb the tower lad-der, lunging at the top to smash the buttonlike a game show buzzer. It gets quieter...
++++++ ++ PC GAMER MAGAZINE ++ AUGUST 2009++ ++
. +
eft 4 Dead 
told stories.Whatever innovation ortireless replayability youfound from the game’sfour-person co-op and asymmet-rical versus, the hours we spentwere well-invested because wecame away with incredible watercooler moments: the perfectSmoker pull off a precariousledge, pouncing on the lastsurvivor inches from the saferoom, heroic sacrifices to saveincapacitated teammates andlast-second “Get to the choppa!”leaps into rescue helicopters.But there’s always room forimprovement. As we gainedfamiliarity with the levels’apocalyptic crannies, some ses-sions felt like we were runningdrills—routine exercises on hud-dling in a corner and other techniques weadopted to deal with the game’s challengingcrescendo events. These not only felt cow-ardly, but they hampered the spirit of thecooperation and improvisation that makes
worth playing. In a game where themost memorable experiences can emergefrom player error and taking chances, pre-dictability is an enemy.
“We definitely looked
at theproblems online—what are bad behaviorsthat we want to cure people of?” Faliszek starts. “We updated
so the Tank couldhit multiple survivors if they were groupedin a corner, and one of the new boss in-fected, the Charger, works along those lines.We’re also going to have variations in bossinfected, where a Smoker or a Boomer hasmutated, and has slightly different abili-ties.” Variety. Brilliant. Faliszek continues,mentioning a new flavor of Witch thatshambles around, a “wandering Witch.”But that’s not the most significantupgrade, says Valve’s VP of MarketingDoug Lombardi. “The biggest change,really, is introducing the notionof melee combat. There’s anaxe, a frying pan, and a coupleof other pieces that are beingadded in.” Faliszek eagerlychimes in: “There
bea chainsaw.” Lombardilaughs. “And that’s moreways to slaughter zom- bies, number one, butalso a different style of combat that hope-fully reduces friendly fire in close quarters.”Adding more weapons, new specialinfected and longer campaigns is a strongstart to solving predictability and boostingthe materials available to the director,
’sAI orchestrator technology. But we’re mostexcited about the new setting.
is adoomed tour of the American south. ForgetBill and Zoey—they won’t be showing up.Georgia, Louisiana and the region betweenis a zone miles away from the first game’scliché horror movie settings—replaced bylonely farms and abandoned cityscapes rifewith all the eeriness inherent to the south’ssweaty climate, secessionist ideals, agedplantations and muddy alligator dens.“I’m kind of surprised it hasn’t beenpicked dry already. As soon as we startedsketching concepts of zombies runningdown the streets of the French Quar-ter, you see them and you’re like‘Okay, that totally works.’ Andyou see another with zombiescoming out of an oldplantation house—‘Yeah, that really works too.’Savannah and New Orleans,there’s the occult and voodoo,and everything’s haunted;there’s crypts above the ground.That’s creepy in and of itself,”says Lombardi.
Faliszek goes on to explainhow story and characterdevelopment will be more of afocus in
. “The world itself is just more alive and morechanging. With
Left 4 Dead 
1,we kind of kept the charactersindividual and just ran with it.But in
, they meet the secondthe game starts outside a mall,”Faliszek teases us, indicatingthat the starting point is anobvious nod to classic zombieflicks. “…and go from there.They get to learn about eachother as we learn about them. We have alittle bit more interaction between them,they have arcs that happen across thegame. It’s not just about their travel, but theentire world. We see the FEMA-like friendlyorganization reacting, and more of themilitary in New Orleans, and we show thecollapse. You see the way different groupsdecided to interact with the infection—some people holed up and tried to do it ontheir own, some people are just fleeing—it’sa more epic story of what the infection isdoing to the world and the people.”
Being thematically distinct from
’s hos-pital hallways and Pennsylvania farm pathsis nice, but the south fashions new takes onthe base gameplay. The muddy bayou of thethird campaign (there’ll be five total—onemore than
) is a flooded forest with onlytraces of civilization—rustic plank shacksfloating in algae pools. Get ankle-deep inone, and your running speed slows to awalk, making it harder to flee. But tacti-cally, you’re put in situations where get-ting your socks wet can help: In an earlychapter, we opt to patrol the river bywalking in it, allowing us a betterview of any oncoming infectedin the open stream than we’dget by jogging along the dense,tree-lined shoreline. The mudis unnerving—more thanDead Air’s baggage-claimmaze or Blood Harvest’scornfield—and that’s agood thing.
Aim for the kneecaps tostop runners or climbersin their tracks.
fresh meat
Know ’em well--these four faces will be your best friends in L4D2.
*Note: Valve tells us these quotes aren’t pulled from an actual script, but were only intended for auditioning the characters. Still, we’d expect the color of the lines to resemble the cast.
“Oh, don’tworry—I said I’d do it, and I’lldo it…but I’m dragging yoursorry ass with me.”
Rochelle graduated from Cleveland State to become an on-air newspersonality, but months of unsuc-cessful job hunting stalled her dream.When the outbreak struck Atlantatwo months later, Rochelle headed straight to the evacuation center inSavannah to produce her first bignews segment, only to be trapped inthe middle of a war zone. But she’ll be damned if she’ll let this zombieapocalypse ruin her big break.
 Valve casts its
characterslike real movie actors. “We’llcome up with hundreds ofconcepts and ideas,” saysFaliszek. “Some are just words,sometimes we’ll give words tothe artists and they’ll come upwith concepts. Then what wedo is go out and find a bodymodel to try and cast the rightlook for the character based onthe sketches we had before.”
“I’ll just say onething: you shoot me again, I’llbreak that rifle off in your assand spin you around like cot-ton candy, you hear me?!”
When the infection broke out, Coachregretted not running along withhis students more often. Teachinghealth class and serving as defensivecoordinator for the local high school team might not be the best path toa career coaching pro football, but it had sure been better than battlingthousands of bloodthirsty zombies.
Faliszek: “I thought the cool-est character ever would bea DMV lady. Especially backeast—these heavy-set womenwho work at the DMV thatyou’d want on your side in azombie apocalypse becausethey’d kill
But itended up not being that coolof a character. Coach kind offills that same role of ‘that guyyou just want on your side.’ Hecan be loving and supportivebut also kind of scary.”
“I’ve got anotherplan. Set everything on fire.I mean
. Houses,buildings, set everything onfire, shoot every f@(#*!% thingthat moves. When we’re doneshooting everything that’sf@(#*!% moving, and burn-ing…we’re
, we win. Wecall that Plan A.”
Ellis never wanted to be anywherebut Savannah. Where else could aman who barely finished high school find happiness working on cars for aliving? He sees everything as a dare,and his enthusiasm and youthful sense of immortality keeps him highon life even as the world crumblesaround him.
Ellis’ enthusiasm (and penchantfor cocky destruction) remindedus of another Valve character—
Team Fortress 2 
’s Scout. Whenwe pointed out the similarity, Valve told us Scout’s voice actoractually tried out for Ellis’ job,but they wanted to stick with asouthern accent.
“The last peopleon Earth are me, and thegoddamn three stooges.”
Nick never had stayed put anywherevery long—not back home in the Mid-west, not in the joint, and certainly not here. There’s no violence on hisrap sheet, just some small-time stuff from bilking tourists on the gamblingcruises. Nothing big, happens toeveryone. He hadn’t planned to hangaround Savannah anyway, but he’d figured it’d be easier to get out of town than this.
Nick’s sharp suit and greased-back hair slots him somewherebetween mafia and
Miami Vice
stunt double. “They eachhave a distinct silhouette,”says Faliszek. “The silhou-ettes of the characters, youcan confuse one guy for theother at a distance—we’re notthat worried about that. Wewant to make sure you don’tconfuse them for the zombies.We’ve done some changes tothe zombies to help that.”
Rochelle, 26
Voiced by RochelleAytes (White Chicks,Madea’s Family Reunion) 
Coach, 39
Voiced by Chad L.Coleman (The Wire) 
Ellis, 21
Voiced by Eric Ladin(Generation Kill) 
Nick, 35(ish)
Voiced By Hugh Dillon(Flashpoint) 
ow with frying pans! 
Enhanced dismemberment! 
” If youwould’ve told me monthsago that these were accuratetaglines for
, I’d have wondered what brutal housewives had infiltrated Valve.In fact, melee weaponry and loss-of-limbsare the most exciting moment-to-momentimprovements I’ve seen in the sequel, and both have welcome (and literal) impact ongameplay mechanics.I found my first axe on the second floorof a pool hall in the fifth campaign. A blur of adrenaline and adolescent tacticsfollowed—hacking down doors, calling myvictims names as I lopped off their fore-arms, rushing packs of zombies ahead of my teammates, jump-swinging at infectedclimbing over obstacles. Clutching a skilletin the swamp, I snuck up behind a Smokerto attempt a skillful kill—he ensnaredme when I was just 15 feet away, but Igot off a swing with the pan before I wasfully ensnared.
(When I wonderedwhere I heard that sound before, Faliszek admitted it’s his ring tone.) Skilleting thelong-tongued sniper into a cloud of smokemay be the ultimate taunt.For the hardcore, the melee weaponsare an opportunity to feel daring (perhapsreckless) and seek a new challenge—myimagination darted to attempting an axe-only run with my ablest Steam friends. Butmore importantly, they encourage newroles that
sorely needs; in a defensiveposture, I used the frying pan’s alternate at-tack to sweep the skillet horizontally, clear-ing out any infected caught in the arc—asturdy technique for blocking doorways.Valve tells me to expect new throwablesother than the pipe bomb and molotov,special ammo clips like incendiary rounds,and multiple variations of pistols, SMGsand shotguns, all of which would beimprovements over
’s simple shotgun/assault rifle selection (who uses that hunt-ing rifle, anyway?). I dual-wielded differenttypes of pistols simultaneously (a glock and a 9mm handgun). I fired a silencedUzi that felt nimble, with weaker shotsin tighter bursts than the
variant. Iloaded a small clip of incendiary roundsinto our gun (10 shots for a shotgun, 50 foran SMG), and spent them wisely, waitingan extra second or two for more infected to
 no mercy
The fifth campaign’s above-ground crypt maze has atleast three possible routes.Blame it on the rain—dynamic weather willbe another tool forthe director to stirup mayhem in

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