This afternoon we had our first hands on with Valve’s highly-anticipated, and unbelievably prompt, sequel to its co-op zombie shooter Left 4 Dead. For those not in the know, the main difference between Left 4 Dead 2 and its predecessor is the new setting, and we played a brief section in New Orleans in four player co-op. The standard gameplay hasn’t changed much – which is good news as Valve got the basics right in the first game –but we did some nice new features which add a little more depth, and humour, to the gameplay.The objective in the level was as expected – you and your three companions are tasked with getting through a small section of the city, past the assorted horrors lurking within, to the safe room. The game’s acclaimed AI Director seemed to be in a brutally bad mood and threw Smokers and a Boomer at us very early on, but it was one of the game’s new bosses which made the biggest impact. The Charger is a big, ugly bastard which, surprisingly enough, charges at a fair old pace towards you and has some powerful melee moves at its disposal. It can also take an awful lot of punishment and despite emptying a number of shotgun rounds into its head, we weren’t able to stop it before it got up close and personal, picked us up and slammed us into the ground.But it’s not just the range of bosses that has been expanded and at numerous points throughout the level we found ourselves face to face with the sinister-looking Hazmat zombie which has a slight edge over the standard enemies in that its suit also makes it resistant to the fire attacks which can often get you out of a tight spot. However, our highlight of this brief hands-on was playing around with the new melee weapons available in the game. We began by picking up a fire axe which can take down a standard infected in one blow and later on in the level we also discovered the frying pan and, rest assured, there’s something both satisfying and enormously funny about clattering a zombie around the noggin with a kitchen implement.Stay tuned for our video interview with Valve’s Doug Lombardi.
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