Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)
Developer: Valve Corporation
Platform: Windows, XBOX 360
1/2 (out of 4)
Zombies, Zombies, Zombies
What to do with all those zombies? Yep, put ‘em in the zombie hutch. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s another horror flick gene turned active over the last year, I don’t know. I just can’t get enough zombies. I’ve always been a pretty big fan, but lately I’ve been burning through zombie flicks like no one’s business. Like a zombieholic. And it’s not just zombies. You better recognize the Zombie Apocolypse. The horror dripping off of an Earth-turned-zombie-wasteland-uh yeah, you got my attention.
Okay don’t let me drone on about zombies, it’s too easy. I’m supposed to give you my take on Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2). And yeah, don’t start on me about the timing, I know it’s about nine months late, but I’ve got a perfectly valid excuse, thanks. I blame ten versus ten (props to the mod community, don’t hate). And I blame a certain group of people I know who’ve recently discovered the game a little late in the game.
Anyway, there’s a catch on giving you any lowdown you might have missed-you know I can’t do it without talking about the original Left 4 Dead first. Besides, I’d rather pretend-travel back in time and do this right at the release of the original anyway. It deserves more props for the leaps it made. So here’s a quick history recap. I promise I’ll make it quick, I realize how unvogue history is these days. And to anyone wondering if I’ll touch the first-versus-sequel community malcontent-I was going to say no, that it’s a rabbit hole of a waste of time, that you should just find out for yourself from the internets if you really care about that kind of stuff, but I will say this. Any company that dares to risk putting out a game with some uniqueness and innovation deserves a little benefit of doubt, especially if they just happen to develop tools along the way to make development time on sequels shorter. Double-especially if they still happen to be putting out content for both versions, and people still happen to be bitching regardless. I feel for you people, I really do, but the key to happiness in life can’t be found in a video game. Time to man up and clue up.
One last note before I shuffle off on this-I’m going to go into gory depth about most of the features in the game, and I’m going to pun it the hell up as I go. It’s going to feel like a cheezy yawnfest at times, but the idea is to drive home the point of the depth in the game. Maybe it’s like sinking a nail with a wrecking ball, just do me a favor and think of it more like abused artistic license since that’s better. Besides, if you have any more interest than a corpse in playing games then you’re cheating yourself if you haven’t tried the L4D series.
Yeah, history is dry so I’ll keep it short. It’s fuzzy (to me at least), but it’s maybe Valve’s Half-Life that gets the most thanks for Left 4 Dead. It was one of the original first person shooters to really get the idea of melding substantive, non-sewer/cave/dungeon-level-based story and narrative into the format. And yeah, I’m thinking of at least one earlier FPS that did something comparable, although Half-Life took it to another level. Thanks to the continuously booming PC mod scene, Half-Life‘s late-game counterterrorist content inspired the multiplayer hit Counter-Strike, which would eventually join Half-Life in bigger game bundle offerings. Its sequel Counter-Strike: Source in turn made for a good target to flush out the first cut of the Source Engine with (which was the game engine used for the obscure FPSs Half-Life 2 as well as L4D/2), as well as involving Turtle Rock Studios in Valve’s dealings. Turtle Rock and Valve getting together apparently led to Left 4 Dead, along with Valve’s purchase of the studio during L4D’s development.