Ever find yourself in a situation where all of your friends are talking about the latest and greatest game, and you can't contribute to the conversation because you haven't been paying attention? Solve that problem with our Launch Primers: everything you need to know (except the spoilers) about a game that's about to be released.
Left 4 Dead 2
Xbox 360, PC
MSRP: $59.99 (Xbox 360), $49.99 (PC)
ESRB Rating: Mature
What kind of game is it?
Left 4 Dead 2 is a first-person shooter that pits you and three other characters against a seemingly perpetual barrage of zombies.
Who's the developer?
Valve is based in Bellevue, WA (just outside of Seattle). Half-Life is the game that made them famous, and Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike, TeamFortress 2, Portal, and Left 4 Dead further cemented their status as one of the industry's most respected development studios. Left 4 Dead was developed by Turtle Rock Studios, which was purchased by Valve in 2008. Turtle Rock had previous experience working on the Counter-Strike franchise prior to L4D and the acquisition.
What's the story?
Left 4 Dead 2 features four new characters and five new campaigns ("Dead Center," "Dark Carnival," "Swamp Fever," "Hard Rain," "The Parish") set in the southern part of the United States. Whereas L4D didn't have a unifying plot, L4D2's story is told over the five campaigns.
Why so soon?
L4D2 has received a lot of flak for coming out only one year after the first game, but to their credit, Valve is adding a lot of new content. There's a new mode called Scavenge (explained below), new special zombie types, a new cast of characters in a new setting, new weapons (including a frying pan and guitar), and a "realism" mode that changes conditions of the game to make things more challenging.
Though you can play with AI-controlled partners, Left 4 Dead 2 is best enjoyed in a multiplayer environment. Communication among team members is absolutely vital, as there are definite strategies to fighting the zombie hoard and helping each other out when someone goes down. The three modes from the first game return: Campaign, Vs., and Survival, and a new mode called Scavenge makes its debut. In Scavenge, the survivors must collect gas cans scattered in the level to keep the power going while the zombies attack.
What'd we say?
Patrick Klepek reviewed Left 4 Dead 2 and gave it a score of 4/5:
"Despite initial skepticism, Left 4 Dead 2 makes a good case for Valve pulling off annual iterations of the series. Such a comment comes as the result of several smart, game-changing additions to the sequel that should reinforce the philosophy of trust many instilled in Valve's decision making process before Left 2 Dead's quick announcement. In Valve we trust...again."
See it in action: