Thankfully for those of us who don't live in Australia, Christmas will be marked by many gamers by a lot of messy, frightful, gory zombie killing. I am, of course, referring to Valve's almost apologetically quick follow up to 2008's co-op undead slaughterfest Left 4 Dead. The sequel runs along the same lines as its progenitor: An apocalyptic pandemic has swept the globe and it's up to you and three cohorts to shoot, smash and slice your way through waves of the groaning, decaying host (hopping into periodically placed safehouses along the way) and make your way to a rescue vehicle at the end of each campaign mission.
If you find yourself snowed in this Christmas then I can't think of many better ways to warm yourself up than by blasting the heads off of zombies, and it seems HMV agrees with me. The entertainment merchant has had Left 4 Dead 2 in for a while at the low price of £17.99 but has, in the last 24 hours, dropped that even further to the pleasant sub-fifteen price of £14.99. Grabbing a copy of this will net you a saving of £10 on the nearest competitor at the moment (Amazon - £24.99).
It might be argued that with very little in terms of new gameplay that Left 4 Dead 2 should simply have been made into a series of downloadable episodes for the first game. The speed with which the sequel was announced and brought into life - a mere year to the date after the first game - does seem a little suspect, but who can turn down more of a good thing?
That said, there are a couple of new things to keep fans of the first game interested. The four new playable characters don't really make a huge amount of difference, but the arsenal at your disposal has been greatly expanded upon, particularly in the melee department. You can now slice, dice, mash and smash your way through the infected horde with items ranging from a katana to a rusty chainsaw to an electric guitar. If you're anything like me, you'll probably laugh out loud, and then feel slightly ill, and then realise it's a game and laugh harder, espcially when you get your hands on the new grenade launcher.
The AI Director is still there, making sure that no two play-throughs are the same, but there are more special infected units this time around including The Charger, a speedy bastard who's nicked the Incredible Hulk's right arm, The Spitter, who....erm....spits, and The Jockey, who jumps on your back and rides around into large swathes of his infected chums. Oh, and remember The Witch - the psychopathic lonely little red-head from the first game who could kill you in one hit? Well in certain campaigns she can now wander aimlessly around rather than sitting in a corner crying. You'll need to have your wits about you.
Left 4 Dead 2 is essentially what the first game should have been: everything has been tuned up without changing anything of the core gameplay, meaning that what we're left with isn't so much a true sequel, but a version of the first game that's been pumped with steroids and had a firework or two stuck up its ass. If you're a newbie to the series then this is definitely where you should start, and if you're an old-timer then you're going to want to get a piece of this souped-up action for sure too.
Thanks to danpc at HotUKDeals