Well, for Gold subscribers who pre-ordered the game, anyway.

The demo went live at 11 P.M. this evening (or yesterday, rather), and I just went through its two levels.

Thoughts?

I’ve adopted Nick as my new character. Louis was my first Left 4 Dead choice, so I’m happy to have found my new guy.

My first real like in the game are the melee weapons. In any FPS/fighting game/whatever, I’ve always been more of a melee person, especially since I can be a little spastic with my gunfire. Hey, I’ll admit it.

The demo provided police batons, machetes, even guitars to whack zombies over the head. While my party played through with new variants of shotguns and machine guns, I was mowing through the undead with a machete, and I liked that.

The new Infected are quite cool, and add a new level of tension. Of course, the Spitters, Smokers and Boomers are there, but there are now Chargers, Jockeys, Spitters, and they all suck due to they make your life a living Hell. I can also tell the new walking Witch is going to taunt some stray bullet to hit her and cause mass havoc when that moment happens.

Defibrillators are an awesome alternative. Boomer Bile is hilarious. Toss a vial of that on a Tank and watch the comedy ensue.

Also of note, and what really pulls me to the game is that I love New Orleans. I was there a month ago, and Valve did a great job of capturing that feel. From the brickwork, to the architecture, the the I-10 freeway, the levels feel authentic from what little I’ve seen, and there’s a “Southern twang” feel to the music, which is appropriate. While I think I’ve read it somewhere, I really hope a level is set in on of the above ground cemeteries. The commentary between the characters works well.

I like the new characters. In a hopeful fanfic moment, I hope Valve implements a means to introduce the old team to the new, and can play mixed groups of the 8 characters.

The game feels harder. There’s something about playing levels in daylight that makes the world seem creepy. The worlds are a little more open as well, which does not lead to some easy confrontations, despite my initial thought. Based on the two levels, they have some nasty “marathon” moments, where they pile on the enemies, and you have to run through in order to survive. Running feels just as important as standing your ground.

From what little is there, is it a good sequel? I know a lot of people have complained that this is “more of the same”, and “should have been an expansion pack”, and maybe it should have been, and perhaps the first game could still use some support, which I hope Valve continues to do. And while some of these new ideas should have been in the first game, the simple fact is that they aren’t, and the best we can hope for is that through added expansions between the two games, some of those gaps will be bridged.

However, I’ve grown to be more and more of a Left 4 Dead fan as the year has continued, which is rare for me to keep playing a game fairly consistently a year later. They have some good additions to this game, and again, I’m a sucker for New Orleans culture, so that is just cake icing for me. It’s a nice alternative to the first game, and the way I see it, people have been shelling out cash on Madden games for over two decades now, and how dramatically does the game change really year per year, and this isn’t the first time an action game has received an action title relatively soon after the first game’s release.

I’ll enjoy playing this with my friends in a month.

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