I'll start off by saying this: I am a huge fan of the original Left 4 Dead. I'll also say this: I generally don't play online either. I'm known to play single player off-line, split screen with my wife, or system linked with 4 buddies. I much prefer playing this game with people in the same room rather than across the internets. I played through this demo twice; once by myself, and once with my wife. With that off my chest, I can tell you it was with a school-girl's giddiness that I climbed up the stairs to my apartment to download the demo for L4D2. 1.6 gigawatts later, I was booting that sumbitch up.
The demo starts with the awesome 3 minute trailer that leaked the other day, which is even more impressive when presented on your television screen. Then the usual ads and the menu screen, whose setup I actually like more than the original's screen. It was much cleaner and more clear. Blah blah blah you don't care so get to the good stuff. The demo is faptastic, and I want more. Now.
The first thing you'll notice starting the game itself is the different feel of the environment - most notably the fact that you're fighting off zombies during the day, a huge difference from the first, or any zombie game for that matter. From the twangy music that made me think of HBO's True Blood, to the extremely loud jet fly over right in the beginning, you really feel that your a part in a very organic, and very dangerous world. The colors pop out at you, and everything just feels alive - including the undead. But, there-in lies the rub. I was just thinking about this, and I realized that in this bright and sunny environment, I really felt no threat. It felt to me like sunshine and lollipops, lalala I'm shooting zombies in N'Orleans, bang-bang. And I'm not saying this is a bad thing, it certainly seems to instill confidence in the player, it's just very different from the dark, bleak environments in the first game where the tension was palpable. Another note - my second playthrough was actually slightly different in the maze section of the park. In the first run, the park was quite simple, move from one area to the next, maybe 3 areas in all. On the second play, it seemed like it was longer, like there were more areas to explore. So that thing they did with the director actually works. Pretty sweet.
Now for the weapons. I love the melee weapons. They are all pretty satisfying to use, and they aren't at all overpowered. I'd gotten a little worried about that, reading in some places that they were essentially one hit kills, which they are for the most part, but its not like you have a Jesus stick or anything. I tested out a few the frying pan and guitar by wading my way into a horde and swinging away. I wouldn't recommend this tactic, as I lost about half of my health, but I did have a lot of fun doing it. It's just easy to not realize just how much damage I had taken in doing so. As for the guns, I almost felt a little overwhelmed with them due to my unfamiliarity, but the same basic premise is there from the first game. If you like shotguns, just grab the shotgun. Like automatic weapons? Grab the SMG or M16 or whatever. Stick with what you know. It didn't seem like individual statistics were all that important for each weapon, it was pretty basic at its core. Chrome shotgun? Still only has 8 shots and isn't automatic. Look beyond the new skins. I didn't get any of the incendiary ammo from either playthrough, so I can't comment on that. I did get a the bile bomb or whatever its called, but I didn't get a chance to use it because the demo pretty much ended right after I picked it up.
Now, I didn't get the best experience with the new special infected. Like I said earlier, I was playing on normal both times, and my AI partners were just too good for the special infected, with the exception of the Charger, who 3 out of the 4 times he appeared in my second playthrough, grabbed me and smashed me into the ground multiple times before anyone was able to kill him. I do like the Charger though, I can see how he adds to the frantic gameplay. He's not really that tough to take down when he stops moving, but when he gets going watch out. I didn't get touched by the Spitter, but I did get to see her roaming around a bit, as well as the Jockey who grabbed a hold of me for about .2 seconds before getting blasted off. I also liked the Common Uncommon in the level, with their full body armor suits. It makes perfect sense (though how did they get turned with all that armor on?) that there would be zombies running around with something other than regular clothes on, so that's a welcome addition. Also, I liked the redesigns on the old special infected. They're not radically different, but changed enough to keep them fresh. The Hunter still has a hood on though (or was that just me?), with just the sleeves ripped off. It's different, it's good, whatever. Then there's the witch. I actually think that having her walk around is a little bit of a step back. I expected to see her pacing back and forth in a small area, but in the demo she seemed to just keep walking. She's still creepy as all fuck and this is just one scenario, but she didn't seem like as big of a threat as she did in the first game. Also of note, two cracks to the head with a guitar does not a dead witch make.
One thing that I think is good, but I won't be able to decide until the game actually launches is the length of the chapters. They seemed much shorter to me. I can see how people might want shorter chapters for Versus matches, but I might like to seem them a bit longer. I liked the newly styled crescendo moment in the middle of the second chapter, but it seemed to not really do anything after that. It didn't seem like that much of a challenge. Granted, it was Normal, but still. I expected a bit more. Again, I'll just have to wait and see how the final game plays.
I really only have one complaint with the game, and it's fairly minor. The ammo count in the new HUD. It's fucking tiny! Green on slightly darker green is not easy to read by itself, and then you make it a size 7 font and I have to squint on my 37" HD TV. Same goes for the after-chapter stats. Shit is TINY. The first game everything was bold and easy to read, and would have been much preferred to have that cleaned up and used for the sequel.
Still, if that's my only complaint, I'll take it. It most definitely seems that L4D2 will be a worthy sequel, and I can't wait to get my hands on it in November.
EDIT I wanted to add two things to this post: 1. New Characters 2. Demo Download Code
1. The new characters are great. The banter seems cut down a little bit, but they seem to be worthy successors to the original four. Coach fucking rules.
2. Apparently Gamestop gave out some faulty DL codes for the demo, so they sent out a fresh batch to everyone again just in case. My original code worked fine, so here's the new one for you if you're lucky enough to be the first person to read this edit:
FXXHQ - MD8XQ - QX9GH - M9Y4P - 9VXPG
If this is illegal to do on the blogs, I apologize and it won't happen again, I'm just trying to spread some love is all.