Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Nothing new in the Left 4 Dead franchise as first-person shooter fails to deliver

By Mike Wheeler

Publisher: Valve

Having just come of playing Bioshock 2 and Darksiders, maybe I’m feeling a little jaded and less inclined to be generous as I could be on Left 4 Dead 2, which pales in comparison to the aforementioned titles.

Left 4 Dead 2, as the title suggests, is a sequel to the original game, which came out in 2008. I’ll put my hand up and state that I never had the opportunity to play the original, but if this is seen as an improvement – and let’s face it, in the gaming world that is what publisher’s aim to do with sequels – then the first rendition mustn’t have been up to much.

In the game you get to be one of four people left behind (Coach, Ellis, Nick, Rochelle) in Savannah, Gerogia after pandemic has swept the country, with people afflicted by the disease left in a zombie-like state. There is not much back story, because there doesn’t need to be – you have to try and make your way from Savannah in Georgia to New Orleans in Louisiana where you will be rescued by the army – shooting as many infected people as you can to survive.

I stopped playing the game about two hours into it. Now, the publisher of the game might interject here and say “well, hold on a minute, how can you put up a relatively negative review, when you haven’t played the whole game?” And that is a point. But I would argue, surely if you kept my interest from the get-go, I wouldn’t have given up on the game?

And that is the main problem – keeping the interest. The game itself is pretty straight forward as far as first-person shooters go – you pick up different weapons, as well as first aid kits and other supplies, but there doesn’t really seem to be anything at stake; when you die, you come back to where you were and start from the point and you haven’t lost anything.

Graphically, the game is above average, and the interaction between the various characters is pretty good, too. But I just can’t get my head around the repetitive nature of the game and how it would be better served if there were puzzles to solve along the way – whether the results of these puzzles give you weapon upgrades, or more firepower, or healing power, or whatever, would sure make it more interesting.

With a huge number of first-person shooter type games out there, publisher’s need to set theirs apart from everybody else’s – for Modern Warfare 2, it was the reality of the graphics; Darksiders it was the solving of puzzles and length of game time; and for BioShock 2 the setting and underlying insidiousness of the characters, which made these games great. Today, it’s just not enough to have baddies to shoot or smack with a variety of weapons.

2 out of 5 Shacks