Left 4 Dead 2 Demo Impressions

Now that the Left 4 Dead 2 demo is open to everyone, it’s time to share our thoughts on Valve’s latest zombie splatterer. The demo only offers a brief glimpse at what we can expect come November 18th and the release of the full game, but it’s enough to whet our appetites. The demo showcases the four new survivors and some of the new weapons available, as well as the special infected we’ll come up against.

Starting with the new infected, the first thought that’ll pop up during a play-through is the potential for combinations that will open up during versus games. In the original, attacks tend to follow a fairly predictable pattern, with the Boomer used to begin an ambush, whilst the rest try to divide and conquer the survivors. But now with three new infected, things will be less obvious. The Jockey can hijack a survivor taking them off in one direction, whilst a Charger might run in and grab any would-be rescuers and take them the opposite way. There’s a lot of potential for combining attacks and making life for the survivors very difficult indeed. Of particular note is the spitters acidic phlegm, which stops survivors from sitting in one place for too long, damaging them massively if they linger within the corrosive bile. One AI spitter used a particularly ingenious delaying tactic against us in one of our play-throughs, blocking off the only route to freedom as the horde closed in around us.

The Spitter can also seperate the survivors.

The Spitter can also separate the survivors.

Of the new survivors, it’s difficult to judge them based on our limited time with them throughout the demo. At first we found their cries of ‘reloading!’ etc strangely off-putting, so familiar we are with Louis, Zoey et al. Their personalities are yet to really shine through thus far, but Coach is the instant favourite, with players scrambling to play as him. Probably because he looks like uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince.

The new weapons so far seem to be powerful and accurate, the pistols this time around seem a lot more effective, but many players will be discarding them in favour of melee weapons. Of the melee weapons we’ve seen the police baton, guitar, frying pan and machete. The frying pan is the most obviously entertaining, with the satisfying and somewhat comforting sound it makes as metal collides with zombie brains. But the machete too deserves a mention, swinging it in a wide arc it slices infected up very effectively and is probably the most useful of the melee weapons we’ve encountered thus far. On the more traditional guns route, there’s a new semi-auto sniper rifle that seems extremely powerful, racking up the headshots and special kills in no time at all. The new auto-shotgun does the job and the AK makes a welcome appearance, fresh from its showing in every other game that involves the usage of guns, ever.

Come to me, my lovelies.. Blam! Blam!
Come to me, my lovelies.. Blam! Blam!

One weapon worth mentioning is the pistol replacement that comes in form of a Magnum. Magnums have long been the zombie killer of choice in games, known for their ability to cause heads to explode with a single bullet, the one found in the demo is no exception. Gun enthusiasts can rejoice then, as Left 4 Dead 2 introduces a new variety to the weapons not found in its predecessor. Sadly the grenade launcher was nowhere to be found in the demo, but we look forward to blowing up some infected (and probably our team-mates) in the finished product.

One final thing worth mentioning is the new mechanic seen in the second level of the demo, which is the gauntlet. Survivors have to make their way from a secure medical bunker to an alarm that sounds as they exit. They’ll have to run through an erected steel cage as they’re assaulted from all sides by the infected, hindering them from reaching their goal. It’s an exciting and promising new mechanic, but with all the new weapons on offer, seemed a tad easy in the games we played. But the difficulty will likely increase exponentially when versus is introduced to the mix and human players are tasked with stopping the survivors.

The machete is head and shoulders above the rest of the melee weapons.

The machete is head and shoulders above the rest of the melee weapons.

Left 4 Dead 2 has a lot to live up to, following a mixed reception from fans when it was first announced. But with just under two weeks until the game is released, that all too familiar craving for brains is returning with a vengeance. With five campaigns and four modes on offer there should be plenty to sink your teeth into come release. The demo is available now for both PC and Xbox 360.

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Written by Michael J

Michael is a self proclaimed PC gaming fanatic and is equally at home with all genres, bar platformers and puzzle games. Except Bejeweled, he's awesome at that. Seriously, he is totally like second on his Facebook Bejeweled leaderboard. And they said he'd never amount to anything...

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