Reader Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Stuart does, as he makes it to the safe room first.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

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This review was submitted by Stuart Gollan. If you’ve played Left 4 Dead 2, or just want to ask Stuart more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Left 4 Dead 2 (PC)

Left 4 Dead redefined co-op gameplay, and was one of the highlights of 2008. The appearance of a sequel only 12 months later is very un-Valve like, but with the improvements made, is absolutely justified. Left 4 Dead 2 feels like the realisation of the original L4D vision.


Game balance: Corner camping plagued the original game, and almost every addition in L4D2 is designed to combat this. The new special infected are particularly entertaining, and provide versus mode play with some much needed variety.

New scenarios: The new levels are a general improvement, with the static panic events of the original replaced with 'cut a swathe through these zombies' races to shut down alarms or reach a safe room. Hard Rain is particularly entertaining, with its excellent weather effects and eerie atmosphere, while Dark Carnival provides some of the most fun moments of the game.

Multiplayer: Versus mode has gained plenty of depth thanks to the new mechanics and special infected, but don't discount the new game mode, Scavenge, which provides some 'instant fix' fun.


Swamp Fever: The swamp levels are a little more open and confusing than we are used to in L4D, and it doesn't suit the game very well. While the rest of the new campaign themes are fantastic, Swamp Fever leaves me feeling a little flat.

Controversy: Between the 'boycott' of the game and the refused classification rating it received here in Australia, just how good L4D2 is may be clouded behind all the sensationalist media coverage, which would be a great shame.

Left 4 Dead 2 does what a good sequel should, it renders the original obsolete. Everything about the sequel is bigger, better and more entertaining. Any fan of Left 4 Dead should pick this one up.

Reviewed by: Stuart Gollan

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    Wow, the review here reads exactly like the kind of things the boycott originally was intended to prevent. Especially how this game is everything that L4D should have been and how it will make L4D obsolete. People still boycotting L4D2 should use your review to support their case.

      I don't get your comment? That's like saying you should boycott every sequel that improves on the original.

      It's a full game, isn't any sequel short of a major game mechanic change merely more maps, items, enemies and characters. I believe it's worth the $38 odd bucks I paid for it (Preorder 4 Pack). Not much you can get for $38 any more, especially that provides the level of replayability.

      People still boycotting should grow up and get a life you mean.

      They were saying that they wanted more DLC.

      L4D2 is above and beyond the first game, as a sequel should be, which is what Stuart is saying.

      "The game is everything L4D should have been" - every game starts somewhere. L4D started as a mod really that Valve decided to turn into a game. For a Mod it was pretty damn polished, and L4D2 just takes it to the next level!

      I agree with you there, a good sequel should build on the things that the original set, while still being different enough to set itself apart from its predecessor.

      A few of good examples of this are:
      Half Life and Half Life 2
      Cod 2 and Cod 4
      Battlefield: 1942 and Battlefield 2
      Command and Conquer Generals and Command and Conquer 3

      All I'm hearing about L4D2 is that it is L4D1 with new guns, new maps and new characters, which while not entirely being a bad thing, i would have preferred that they kept it in the oven for at least another year, to come out with something truly worthy.

      Also I'm pissed that they pumped out this half-assed sequel and EPISODE 3 IS STILL FUCKING NO-WHERE TO BE SEEN! COME ON VALVE IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS AND WE HAVEN'T HAD A SCRAP OF INFO!!!!!

    I put my review build of L4D2 Australia in my 360 last night and couldn't find any games

    1) are people not playing on live or...

    2) is the UK and US version not able to play with the AU (which would be all sorts of bullshit)

    Hmmm, what about the censorship? I mean, I never really played the original, but I watched a vid of the censored version (it might have been Germany's though, if it's any different to ours?) and it was watered down to the point where Halo is more violent... less blood than what I saw of the original, bodies disappearing before they hit the ground, etc... I would have thought that would be a big bold "hated"?

      If you're playing on PC, all the local servers are running the hacked "full violence" version, so the point is moot. On 360 there's no hack, but the gameplay is identical. Which is the whole point, right?!

        Not exactly, David.

        Some effects of the censoring process have dramatic effects on gameplay, the two biggest ones that come to mind are:

        1:) Enemies not burning while on fire. This would be particularly frustrating when fighting tanks, as the stock standard tank strategy is to throw a molotov cocktail and then run. In the low violence version, you cannot tell if the tank is burning or not.

        2:) The 'Riot Cop' uncommon common infected does NOT spawn at all on the low violence version. Uncommon common infected are placed by the AI director, and directly influence the way other common infected act, thus altering game play.

        Well that's just wrong David. You still need to import (or find another way) to get the uncensored version if you want it uncensored, the servers themselves have no play in whether your game is censored or not.

          No, it's correct. Buy the local PC version and make a minor edit to a txt file and you can play it uncensored. However, you can only play with others who have made the same edit, which is the vast majority of local servers right now.

            There's a trick which involves buying the game through the UK or US steam WEB store. I'm not going to post it here since it's technically illegal? but google it if you must, it's the easiest way to get a guaranteed uncensored version

    It takes a while to find a good game, but I have no problem joining Yanks and Brits (as well as Aussies) with an import from Britland.

    So far every Aussie I've played with has imported.

    I played the demo and found it a major meh, I'll get it on special...I'm an XBox Live Silver guy, so there's no rush...I just don't warrant paying for a service that I'd barely ever use betweenstudies and social

      The demo really doesn't do a good job of showing off L4D2. If you get a chance, try out the full game, you may change your mind.

    Bought it from the UK Steam Store using a VPN. Runs great, plenty of Aussie servers to play on and with full gore.

    Good times.

    FedEx just dropped off 6 copies for mates and I from playasia. And at less then $60 each after delivery and an unrated version I must say not boycotting was there right thing to do, especially at such a awesome price. And after just playing the first campaign I so far think this review is spot on.

    PS I would not of brought the edited version local for $90.

      Just so you know, importing RC material into Australia is just as illegal as selling it in Australia.

    anyone who wants the government to create a r18+ rating for games please sign this patition. we need as many names as possible

    Do not buy the mutilated Australian verion, go to Ebay, Playasia, New Zealand.
    Call the offc complain compalin complain.

    Demand an R18 rating and the removal of Michael Atkinson.

    I was originally going to buy L4D2 even with the censorship but seeing how poorly done it was I'm gonna just have to import. I want the game as its meant to be without a censorship board telling me, an adult of 23, that it's to violent for my poor little eyes.

    However, good review. :)
    It's good to know the game is getting better and better then the original. I love it when games blow the original outta the water.

    I call shenanigans if it is the australian copy.
    Everyone has seen the comparison vids, Did gabe pay you for this review?

    Swamp Fever is a fine map, it is just homage filled, from references to the first L4D to horror movies such as Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Though the last could have been due to me having a chainsaw, though I swear the mansion in the end reminds me of the movie, wheelchairs and all), also I don't understand how controversy can be something to hate, I generally love it. Nice review though, hope everyone picks up a copy. (PC ofcourse)

    All the people I know said L4D2 has gotten boring already.
    And that L4D1 still is better than L4D2.
    Most of the promises they made have not been delivered upon and VALVe have just ruined the success of L4D1.
    They wasted six months of my time getting the SDK out for L4D1 and then just when I get it I'm told that there's a sequel?
    That deserves my boycott, and I'm standing for it.

      There's your bat and ball and home is that way. We'll be right here enjoying this game if you need us.

    Awesome review Stuart. I concur with most of this review. I am not a massive fan of the swamp level either, I hate swamp men so very very much, but I have only played it once.
    Also the special infected that pretty much prevent corner camping are great, I am loving the balance of the game now. The scoring is another awesome aspect, there isn't such an absurd bonus for getting home and making it almost there still earns you plenty of points.

    I think this review is pretty much spot on. The only thing I disagree with is the assessment of the swamp level. I like that you can get confused about where you are going, I think it is great when a game can make you feel that sort of fear and apprehension. To my mind it adds a degree of realism.
    One thing I don't like about the new levels is that it is now possible for one of your team to get stuck in a spot that is unreachable by their team mates. This forces teams to leave players behind.
    Great review. I'm hanging out for my next game :)

    I can't believe people are boycotting Valve bringing out a game a year since the last release. You should be happy that it's so soon and that you're not waiting 5 years for the sequel to come out. Left4Dead is the type of game that benefits from often updates as the campaigns, while exciting the first few times, don't have the same sort of re-playability a deathmatch built map has.

    Just thought I'd add that I reviewed the uncensored version of L4D2, as has been mentioned it is readily available (or easily hacked) for any Australians looking to experience the game as it was intended. The censored version is neutered to a point where it does hurt the gameplay significantly, enemies not appearing on fire, the riot cop missing, and it hurts the atmosphere a heck of a lot. I was somebody who wasn't too concerned about the censorship and was happy to work around it, but upon seeing what they've done, I can't recommend it. That would only really hurt 360 owners though, and importing in this day and age is easy enough. PC owners who aren't playing the uncensored version only have themselves to blame.

    Thank you for the kind comments on the review, as someone who played a heck of a lot of the original, L4D2 hasn't disappointed. The first game was just starting to get a bit tired by the time L4D2 arrived, and who knows, maybe in a month or two that feeling will come back, but for now, L4D2 is everything that I could want, and it certainly renders the original game obsolete in my view.

    I just brought the game from steam a couple of days ago, just played it today and did not even realise that it was so censored, i refuse to play it now it is an utter dissapointment. bodys dissapearing, no blood , i mean whats the use in a axe, sword or chainsaw if you cant hack limbs off???? seriously makes the game shite

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