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Why Left 4 Dead 2 is one of the greatest games ever made

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Have you ever asked yourself, “if the zombie apocalypse were to happen right now, what would I use to defend myself?” That’s like Left 4 Dead 2. Sure, it’s got first-person shooter gunplay at its heart, but with ammo limited, sooner or later you’re going to have to choose between a garden gnome or an electric guitar with which to smash up the undead hordes and save your frontal lobes from a trip through a zombie’s digestive tract.

Brilliantly, despite such comical situations, Left 4 Dead 2 plays it all totally straight. The atmosphere is dark and dank with a terrifying feeling of hopelessness as you and your team make it to every new safehouse in a worse state than before. It's because of this, and much more, that it's ranked on our list of the 100 best games of all time.

 

The sense of camaraderie that the situation elicits is the game’s greatest achievement. Initially, it’s tempting to go running off ahead looking for the best weapons and health pickups, but doing so spreads your team too thin, and at some point (usually within 10 seconds) you will need someone’s help to save you from a monster.

Instead, working together is of vital importance. And there’s no better way to do this than by getting together with friends. Actually, that might not be strictly true; human teammates are vital, yes, but they don’t necessarily need to be people you already know. Teaming up with random people online is brilliant, forcing you to work together with strangers like you would in a real-world survival situation. And if that means putting down a player who goes postal and starts team-killing, then so be it--such is the zombie apocalypse.

If the action ever gets too easy (which it won’t--the game is designed to adapt to how you’re doing as you play), there’s an ultra-hardcore realism mode that strips away the HUD and the ability to respawn and leaves you staring death in the face with only your headset left to co-ordinate your survival ‘attempt’. It’s so far beyond arcadey, ‘twitch’ gaming, that it’s more like a social experiment.

You really start to think about your teammates’ safety as a priority over decapitating zombies with shotguns (although the two can thankfully be combined). Hearing disgusting belches approaching in the distance instigates a lightning-fast reactionary warning of ‘Boomer!’ to your teammates, even before the survivors in the game recognize the threat and call the same. And getting covered in zombie-attracting bile from said Boomer, effectively running around blindly like a flashing beacon saying “I’m right here zombeez, come and eat ma brainz” is a moment of extreme embarrassment.

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22 comments

  • MariaWilson22 - October 21, 2012 6:17 p.m.

    I get paid over $87 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I never thought I'd be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Heres what I've been doing, http://Max14.com
  • Pwnz0r3d - October 18, 2012 7:01 p.m.

    I prefer 1 so much more. Mainly because the cartoony blood of 2 is a huge turn-off. The new infected aren't that great either, the maps are WAYYYY too open, and while I love me some new content, I feel as if we were absolutely overwhelmed with the weapons (all of which were pretty much reskins of each other) addons, (lasers, explosives, and incendiaries were so rare, i have no idea why they're even in the game) and new zombies. The issue I have with the game is that so much was added that it literally made the game not as fun as the first one for me. But that's just me.
  • iHateFatPeople - October 18, 2012 12:44 p.m.

    Replace 'Greatest' with 'Worst' and you have yourself a real article.
  • mentalityljs - October 18, 2012 12:14 p.m.

    I would agree with this artice under a few exceptions. Had all of the L4D1 DLC not been available I can't see how L4D2 would have held up as well as the original. Like others have said, L4D1 concentraited more on the horror theme rather than all of the action and comic relief the second attempted. Still, with all of that said, i've logged hundreds of hours in both and are still an acceptable fall-back title.
  • reecemunkey - October 18, 2012 3:53 a.m.

    This is the only game Im sad I never got to play, But i wont get an xbox for just one game! Still very sad!
  • GamingBear - October 18, 2012 3:01 a.m.

    I have got to say I was a little unimpressed with l4d2. The first I loved, played it quite a lot, versus mode almost every night at one point. The second one seemed to lose the suspense in favour of all out action, which is fine in doses. L4D2 also seem to complicate matters with weapon mods and new annoying mutant zombies. What I loved about the first one was how simple it was, easy to play but a challenge to master.
  • MysterEnygma - October 18, 2012 12:33 a.m.

    Personally I think first one was better: cast (other than Nick and Ellis, rest of cast sucked), atmosphere was more creepier/horror movie like compared to the "dem zombie duwn south!" vibe. And I felt 2's chapters felt longer than they should've been. But that's just me.
  • Jackstraw - October 17, 2012 5:16 p.m.

    You continue to write these articles as though anything ending up on a top whatever list from your site actually means something...
  • overrated44 - October 17, 2012 11:25 p.m.

    You continue to comment on these articles thereby nullifying your statement. Also, you comment on articles on the internet as if your opinion means anything to anyone. :D
  • ParagonT - October 18, 2012 8:57 a.m.

    Probably a bad way to give back a retort that nullify's your statement as well and can be said right back at you or anyone. Not that I agree with the guy, but not the best response.
  • Fursnake - October 17, 2012 3:44 p.m.

    Both L4D games are decent fun for a month or two. One of the greatest games ever? Not quite.
  • ThundaGawd - October 17, 2012 1:20 p.m.

    Not to mention the amount of mods you can cram into the PC version, just a few hours on mod sites such as l4dmaps or gamebanana and you can find literally hundreds of high-quality campaigns to keep you occupied (Ever wanted to play through the entire Silent Hill campaign, puzzles and everything, with 4 friends and more zombies? or run through hordes of undead as an earthquake brings the city down around you?) along with some very high-quality weapon remodels & reanimatios. Playing realism strips away the HUD, but if your team has medkits that light up like the spinal displays in Dead Space while running through a building that feels as though it should belong in Mirror's Edge, it adds a nice sci-fi/cyberpunk feel to the game. I have over 150 hours put into the game, and I still play every week with a group of friends, the abundance of custom campaigns makes it a different experience every time because you genuinely never know what to expect.
  • ThundaGawd - October 17, 2012 1:23 p.m.

    You can also find mods to replace the L4D2 survivors with the L4D1 survivors and vice-versa (voice swap and all) depending on your preference, since pretty much everybody preferred the characters from the first game.
  • saolotoga-brandon-alofipo - October 17, 2012 1:09 p.m.

    I must also disagree though. This game is a farcry from any realistic situation concerning a Zombie Apocolypse. The game does NOT have a limited supply of ammo. First of all, all the pistol ammo is unlimited. And on top of that, whenever you find a small pile of ammo, you can sit there and resupply as much as you'd like from a pile that looks as though it'd only replenish 3 or 4 magazines per person. That aside, I do still enjoy some thrilling Zombie killing action.
  • Bloodstorm - October 17, 2012 12:36 p.m.

    Gotta disagree. Despite owning both of them (because I got them cheap, yay for Steam sales!) I have put a measly 13 hours combined into these two titles. They were fun for a few hours. They ruined it by sucking out any surprise. You just kill a lot of things, but nothing ever really surprises you.
  • db1331 - October 17, 2012 12:57 p.m.

    So you didn't play VS then? That's the whole point of the game. Of course playing against the AI is going to get old fast. Try playing against a well-coordinated infected team, then tell me you don't get surprised. Anyhow, am I the only one who thinks the first game was better?
  • saolotoga-brandon-alofipo - October 17, 2012 1:04 p.m.

    I thought the first one was much better as well.
  • Redeater - October 17, 2012 1:15 p.m.

    I definitely enjoyed the cast more in LFD1. If they had replaced Louis with Ellis I would say it trumps LFD2 in every way. (Not because Louis is black but just because he is an incredibly boring character.)

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