Daily Archives: November 11, 2009

IMPRESSIONS: Left 4 Dead 2 demo


I try not to judge a book by its cover. Similarly, I try not to judge a videogame by its…heck, they are different beasts than books and by the time a game is released the public has already been spoon-fed screenshots, trailers, previews, demos, and a landfill of hype. So a videogame’s retail cover means nothing in actuality, but what I’m trying to say is that I normally shy away from the crazy, fast-paced shooters of this generation because I feel like they are just not my kind of game. I’m talking about the Halos, the Gears of Wars, the Call of Dutys, and the Left 4 Deads. Last night, I put that theory to the test.

Left 4 Dead 2 comes out on November 17, and a demo for the zombie shootathon went up on Xbox Live at the end of October. Y’know, to gets folks excited. However, being a lowly wielder of the Silver account, I had to wait until yesterday to download it. Oh, lowly me.

The demo offers up two modes of play–single player and online campaign–within one of the game’s five episodes, The Parish, with the first two sections of that episode available for exploring. There’s no story introduction, and you’re dropped off a boat next to, magically, a table of weapons. Grab your gear and go. Go where? Forward. Then the zombies swarm (or maybe not, thanks to the clever and always thinking AI director), and here’s where the problems started…for me, at least.

One, nervous and unsure of how to play, I hung back and allowed my three other teammates to dole out punishment. A single zombie did not get through so basically I just stood in a corner watching. This is equivalent to watching an in-game cinema. I did nothing.

Second, when I finally did decide to shoot some zombies I ended up hitting my teammates more often. They scolded me, and I retreated to hiding in a corner, popping off a shot only when it was clear who what I was aiming at. This only worked in the open areas, like the park and streets. Inside buildings was a no-trigger zone. Was there a button for zoom? I couldn’t figure it out.

Anyways, you’ll travel down streets, through a dark kitchen, across a shrub-heavy park, all while shooting a variety of zombies. They are fast zombies, too, some jumping on your head and others spitting Ecto Cooler at you. The graphics are colorful and strong, and the physicality of everything is pretty impressive, especially how zombies fall differently under gunfire versus melee weapons. In dark areas, the light from your flashlight makes for eerie gunfights. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing with some of the items I found, and I just moved from place to place when it go too quiet until eventually the demo came to an end.

Then I played the demo a second time, and the entire scenario was different, which was nice. Very nice, and I slowly improved on shooting zombies. So I’ll pass on the full retail game, as I don’t have anyone to play with (and I’m assuming this is a great game for friends and such) and just replay the demo when I get a hankering for a zombie massacre.

At least now I can say with total authority that Left 4 Dead 2 is not my kind of videogame experience.