The grateful undead
Where's Bruce Campbell when you need him? The iron-chinned one is the only thing missing from Valve's exquisite corpse, Left 4 Dead 2, which easily ranks as one of this year's best releases. The sequel to last year's co-op fuelled undead shooter makes no bones about taking everything that was rank, rotting and amazing from the first game and cranking up the gore, excitement and atmosphere to at least eleven on the dial.
The big changes arrive in the form of a new quartet of survivors who must skilfully navigate their way through five horrific chapters of carnage set against the backdrop of America's Deep South. Forget crawfish pie, jambalaya and banjo-playing and instead prep yourself for a tense firefight that includes new gameplay modes, new guns and more importantly close-quarters bludgeoning.
Left 4 Dead 2 introduces melee weapons for the first time which include a frying pan, cricket bat, katana and yes, a full gassed-up chainsaw. These hand-to-hand toys deliver a new high and nothing comes close to slicing and hacking your way through hordes of infected civvies. Mix in four-on-four player matchmaking, a new Survival mode, a new Scavenger mode and the brutally hard Realistic mode and you're looking at one serious upgrade to the original game. Oh and don't forget to be on alert -- there's new rare infected monsters to battle now too (watch out for those killer clowns!)
Left 4 Dead 2 trounces the competition and Valve takes this franchise to the next level with ease. Stay tuned for new downloadable content patches and frequent updates over the coming months. The smell of decomposing flesh should never be this uplifting.