Demo Daze: Left 4 Dead 2
It’s less than 3 weeks until Left 4 Dead 2 is released and a public demo is due out tomorrow. However I was lucky enough to get a demo code for the Xbox 360 version last week and since then I’ve been playing through the demo’s two levels of “The Parish” throughout the weekend.
The demo is very similar to the original Left 4 Dead demo. You are put into one of the campaigns, in this case, “The Parish” and are allowed to play through some of it. The Left 4 Dead demo only gave you half of the second level where as this time the whole of the second level is available, which is nice. However, similar to the previous demo, it also lets you play through this part of the campaign online. However, there is no versus mode, which makes sense considering the demo can be completed in about 20-30 minutes on normal. Choosing to play as Coach/Uncle Phil on Advanced, I was ready to kill some zombies.
The demo kicks off with the survivors being dropped off by a survivor driving a boat. It looks like the campaigns will actually be connected this time around, unlike with Left 4 Dead where the campaigns were separate stories. (at least until Crash Course linked No Mercy and Death Toll. Another difference is that this time around, the change in difficulty seems to have more of an effect than usual. For example, if you play the demo on normal then it’s very unlikely that you’ll encounter a tank in the first two levels, or any armoured infected. You’ll also be able to pick up a melee weapon right at the beginning. On the other hand, on advanced, you will usually face at least one tank and many armoured infected. Whether this is just an effect caused by the demo or will be present in the full game remains to be seen.
I mention picking up a melee weapon as it’s one of the new additions to Left 4 Dead 2. In the demo, frying pans, katanas, nightsticks and electric guitars are all available for use, with the likes of cricket bats and chainsaws available in the full game. Now picking up a melee weapon will replace the pistol as your secondary weapon. While melee weapons are both humourous (the sound of a frying pan smacking a zombie in the face never gets old) and pretty much one hit kill weapons, the lack of a pistol means that if you run out of ammo with your main weapon, you’ll have no firearm until you can pick up another weapon. Now this doesn’t have much of an effect normally but in versus mode, special infected would be impossible to reach without direct conflict. Of course, this would mean that survivors would have to work together so that firearms are always available. Not a game changer but something to be aware of.
The real game changer comes in the new infected. First we have the Charger. The least effective of the new infected, it’s only attack is to charge at survivors, grab them and throw them up and down. While this attack could be used well in versus, with the AI controlling the charger, it can be easily defeated. The Charger has potential but it won’t bother returning players too much. The biggest change has to come from the Spitter. If you don’t know, the Spitter spits acid which can break up survivors. She also leaves a trail of acid when killed. Now as well as breaking up survivors with her spit (which has ridiculous range I might add), her trail of acid means that if you encounter a Spitter in a tight area and kill her, then she’ll block the area ahead with her acid, meaning that you will have to wait a few seconds before moving on. Now we know how much a few seconds difference can make in a versus game and a good player could make the Spitter deadly. Finally, the last of the new infected is the Jockey. It’s certainly the most annoying of the infected but it’s also a threat at the same time depending on how well the survivors cooperate. A cocky survivor can easily be jumped on by a Jockey and dragged into a waiting horde where they’ll tear the survivor apart. While the Jockey isn’t as much of a threat as the Spitter, it will certainly will keep survivors on their toes.
Outside of the infected, there are now a bigger variety of weapons, each with their advantages and disadvantages. There is also the addition of boomer bile, which creates the effect that being boomed on would but in a jar that you can throw at something. It is particularly handy for avoiding hordes and can also be thrown at special infected, which means that the horde will try and attack that special infected.
Apart from that, this is pretty much the Left 4 Dead you’ve always known. If you liked Left 4 Dead then you’ll like Left 4 Dead 2 and the same goes if you didn’t. The graphics may have gotten an upgrade and the zombie dismemberment has come into play but apart from that and the other new additions, it all feels the same. Should it have been DLC then? Maybe, but it also has that same quality that has made Left 4 Dead so fun and addictive over the past year and more and with five new campaigns, new infected and the like, that’s enough for me to purchase the second game.