Zombie games have gotten themselves a bad reputation as of late. They’ve just become a saturated market where they all feel the same now. State of Decay 2 and Metal Gear Survive both seem like pretty bland, low effort Zombie Survival games. Its really unfortunate to see how much they’ve gone down the tubes. Especially years after the release of Dying Light; and while that game didn’t have the greatest story, the gameplay was fantastic. I really enjoyed the parkour elements, I loved the melee combat, and loved the open world. Especially when the released The Following, making the world bigger. However, it never was as great as this one. The one zombie game that I still play even to this day. The one game that I’ve cherished forever. That game … is Left 4 Dead 2.
This game is a Zombie Survival game, done right. This was during the Golden Age of Turtle Rock Studios. I absolutely enjoyed this game for it’s gameplay, it’s story, it’s characters, and it’s level design. This game forces you to work as a team in an environment filled with hundreds of thousands of zombies. From common infected to special infected, you’ve got to fight your way through the horde to make it from point A to point B. It may seem like a simple objective, but its the journey that makes it a challenge and what makes the game more fun. You’ll have moments when you feel like you’re in the clear and alone, but then you’ll hear that familiar tune, and you’ll have a Boomer ambush your group and cause a horde to attack you guys.
There is so much to say about this game, so let’s talk about it!
Now, this game’s story sounds very simplistic on the surface. You play as one of four survivors. Either Rochelle, Coach, Nick, or Ellis. These characters each have their own unique personalities and backstories. Rochelle was a news reporter, Coach was (obviously) a former High-School football coach, Nick was a gambler and con-artist, and Ellis was a junior mechanic. As you play through the game, you get a brief mention of the backstory of each of the characters. This can be heard through the dialogue segments that you can hear when your in safe rooms.
As the game progresses, you begin share this bond with these characters. The AI makes these guys feel real when you play alone. The other survivors have your back all the way. They will heal you and they will provide you with buffs to help keep you going and keep you safe. So long as you guys stick together, you’ll be an unstoppable force.
Now back to the story. As I’ve said before, it’s very simplistic. If you look at it on the surface, you main objective is to go from point A to point B. However, once you start digging deep into the lore of this world. Reading the graffiti on the walls of the safe rooms, scouring the environment, and listening to the characters speak. Doing all this will begin to unravel the deep lore of this universe. This is what Valve has always been really good at. Keeping the story ambiguous and leaving the player to make up their own thoughts and theories on how everything happened.
It’s what Valve has done with all their titles. Hell, even Team Fortress 2 has a deep and rich lore, but that’s a story for another day. The point is, this game’s story is purposefully ambiguous so the player can think of how things went down on their own. While part of me would like a codex (because I love a good codex), I do think this is the best way to have a story told in a Zombie Survival game. Leave the player to figure things out as the game progresses so they can be immersed into the world.
This is where Left 4 Dead 2 shines brighter. It’s gameplay. There is a lot to discuss on this part of my review. We’ll mostly be discussing the basics here, but if you want to learn more, definitely check out the Wiki where it’s all explained. First, let’s discuss the team work aspect. As I’ve previously stated, this game REQUIRES team work! You’ll never be able to traverse through this game on your own. This game throws wave after wave of common infected at you, and also the random ambushes from special infected. You need to work and communicate as a group in order to make it to the next safe room.
Now to combat. There are two weapon types in this game. Firearm weapons and melee weapons. Melees help you out in close quarters combat. Great against hordes of common infected. Firearms are useful for long range attacks. Very useful when dealing with special infected like Spitters and Smokers. There are 22 weapons that are a mix sidearms, rifles, shotguns, and machine guns. There’s also 11 melee weapons that (while they may act the same) feel different between each one. Killing zombies with a Katana or Baseball Bat feels truly satisfying.
On to the zombies. I’ve already mentioned this earlier, but there are two zombie types in this game. Common Infected and Special Infected. Common Infected are your average zombies. They pose no real threat unless they’re in a horde. There are different types like Hazmat Infected, Construction Infected, Scavenger Infected, Mudmen, and more, but they all pretty much act the same as Common Infected. Then there’s the Special Infected, and they’re the deadlier type. The different types are Hunters, Spitters, Smokers, Jockeys, Boomers, Chargers, Witches, and Tanks.
Spitters spit pools of acid at the survivors, and the survivors will take more damage over time. Hunters will ambush survivors, and will pounce on one of them dealing as much damage as possible before they’re killed. Tanks will randomly appear. They’re basically Arnold Schwarzenegger on super steroids times ten. They’re a mindless ripped infected that will deal tons of damage to the survivors, and literally throw chunks of concrete at them try to knock them down. Watch out for this one. They can literally wipe your entire group.
Finally, the map design. This I think is one of the best thing about Left 4 Dead when it comes down to gameplay. The many different environments that you journey though have so much variety, that it’s advised that you do some exploring. There are so many areas of the game that have little weapon caches or even just some nice melee weapons for you to collect. Killing Scavenger Infected will sometimes give you med kits, pills, or even pipe bombs, searching homes can have ammo supplies and weapons waiting for you to collect, and all these features help make the world feel more alive. It rewards players who search around the different maps.
This is game is turning nine-years-old this year, and the community is still continuing to thrive. While it might be a little dead on console, it’s continuing to slowly grow on PC through the Steam Workshop. Where some of the most talented gamers come to share their artistic and programming skills. Some exceptionally well made mods exist on the Workshop. Mods from popular shows/movies/games like Halo, RWBY, Star Wars, etc. Its one of the many things that makes me keep coming back to L4D2. Always wanting to see the amazing things the community has made.
There’s also the great Multiplayer this game has. From Scavenger, to Mutated, and to Versus, this game does it’s multiplayer well! Especially when you crank the difficulty to realism, for an even tougher experience. This game has some of the best moments when playing online. Interacting and competing with other players is a blast, and one of the many enjoyable experiences with this game. Allowing players the ability to play as the Special Infected is crazy. Playing as Hunters, Smokers, or even as the almost unstoppable Tank is super fun.
The Community is the one thing that continues to keep this game alive.
Buy this game if you can. It’s only $20 right now and definitely worth every cent. Or if you can’t get it now, wait for a Steam Sale. I don’t care, but if you’re an avid PC Gamer, then it is your duty to seek out this game and add it to your library. I promise you, you’ll love Zombie games again playing this with your friends. Without a doubt. I’ve invested over a hundred hours into this game with my buddies both on PC and Console, and each experience was always memorable for me.
This is one of those games that I’ve unironically given a 10/10. It’s literally on the same level as games like Half-Life and System Shock 2 where it’s practically perfect minus a few minor things wrong, but the good parts of L4D2 truly out way the bad in the best way possible. I highly recommend you buy this masterpiece of a Zombie game. Trust me, you will not find any Zombie Survival game like it on the market. I truly believe that it is the one that dominates them all.