The Monster Mash
One of the largest complaints about the original game is that it was far too short, with only a handful of missions, each too short. Left 4 Dead 2 set out to remedy that. The levels are divided into more segments, each of them with a notable length. You can certainly blast through the game relatively fast, as with any shooter, but in areas where swarm after swarm of zombies approaches, you'll be pinned down for quite a while, and the frantic pace of the game makes for a huge relief when you finally reach the end of an area, making none seem too short.
A perfect game for any Halloween party, the strongest selling point of Left 4 Dead 2 is, by far, its co-op multiplayer support. A feature that is lacking in all too many games, L4D is built entirely around the co-op experience. Consoles support 2 player split screen, while all platforms support LAN and internet gaming. All missions involve your team of four venturing through the zombified realms. Characters are AI controlled unless a player character joins in. The mutual survival skills of the team definitely matter as zombies attempt to drag individuals off unless rescued by the others. It's a great game for teamwork, to be sure.
Other multiplayer modes include all the standard modes you would expect in a modern FPS, including all modes from the original game. Beyond the co-operative game, the Versus and Scavenge modes are by far, the two most interesting. In Versus you play full missions with one team playing the Survivors, and the other team actually playing as one of the specialty classes of Infected (zombies!) Personally, I find playing as a zombie predator to be much more fun than playing...perverse as that may be. Scavenge is simply the “quick play” version of Versus where simply surviving the longest is the goal. Handy for those midnight snack zombie slaying sessions...
Unfortunately the level design and art style aren't the only retro elements of the game. The graphics also remind me of Duke Nukem. The art style itself is catchy, but it would be hard to get a lower polygon count, at least on the console versions. Even the textures are surprisingly low resolution. I realize this is in the interest of keeping frame rates up during the furious action of the game with a huge number of on-screen enemies, but when one looks at the likes of Killzone 2, WET, and even Darkest of Days, it leaves some room for debate on whether the graphics had to be so low quality. Due to the pace of the game it doesn't distract from the game too much in practice, but upon critical evaluation, as can be seen from the screen shots here, it's difficult to excuse, though, I admit some guilty pleasure in seeing cheesy game models like the “good old days.”
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