Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

2009 in Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Posted by deckard47 on January 26, 2010

I’d thought that Among Thieves would be here, at the top. This is the last of these year in review thingies, because I can’t think of anything I liked more than Left 4 Dead 2. Yes, when Among Thieves was on its way (and while playing it), I thought that I wouldn’t play a better game this year. I still love Among Thieves, and maybe it will get its own post, as a consolation prize (a runner-up spot, maybe), but for now, it’s time to talk about L4D2.

L4D2 is, like its predecessor, a unique game. When I play games with other people, regardless of whether or not I’m playing on a team of 2 or 10, I can always rely on one player (not me, usually) to win the match. Even in a Modern Warfare 2 game with every slot occupied, the team that won is always the team with the player who has a 20/2 kill ratio. Aside from that, the team will be balanced. Every single MP game I’ve played is like this. Left 4 Dead 2 is not like this. This is, of course, not a terribly revolutionary thing to say (not that I say things like that much anyway). Of course this game is about teamwork. It’s designed to be that way. Left 4 Dead 2 is so much more about teamwork (and conducive to teamwork) than Left 4 Dead, however. There are places where (as humans and as infected) precise, careful maneuvers and assaults are required. Every victory feels like a group effort. If you lose, most of the time it’s because you weren’t playing well together.

Even better, the kind of teammates you have (not just their skill and their ability to coordinate) has a significant effect on the tone of each round. I’ve played with people who were much better than I was, people who also happened to be impatient assholes who wouldn’t help me out when I couldn’t keep up. Likewise, I’ve played with people who were, in fact, not better than me. Of course, these players are often more egotistical than the people who are legitimately talented. Again, this is not an experience entirely unique to Left 4 Dead 2. In other MP games (again, take Modern Warfare 2), better, more experienced players sometimes make it their business to heckle you for your lack of skill. They’re annoying, but there isn’t much more you can do about it (besides muting them, of course).

In L4D2, this kind of player is infinitely more annoying and detrimental to one’s experience. There’s just something deeply distracting and unpleasant about someone who is helping you (or not) who also insists on deriding you at every turn. Even the worst, least experienced (no matter your own level of skill) newcomer is better than an asshole. L4D2 also happens to be what the original game should have been. It’s much better balanced (rushing is harder, so is corner camping), the maps are better (except Swamp Fever, which I hate because I’m awful at it), and the guns and infected all feel like they fit well together. This isn’t to say that the first game was bad; the first game was excellent. Left 4 Dead 2 just happens to be the game I’ve played more than any other this year. I didn’t play it grudgingly (like MW 2), I didn’t play it in anticipation of a new game (ME and Drakensang), and I didn’t play it because there was just so much there (all of the open world games). I played it (and play it) because I can’t make myself stop, and even when I’m playing awfully, I’m having a wonderful time. Even better, it lets me keep in touch with my brothers, and thus is a strange form of almost nightly sibling time. Lucky me.

So, dare I say it? Left 4 Dead 2 is my favorite game. From last year, that is.

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One Response to “2009 in Review: Left 4 Dead 2”

  1. Sam said

    Somebody get the big guy POUNDIN’ ME INTO THE GROUND

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