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Left 4 Dead | 2 | review | game | Lollipop

Left 4 Dead 2

(EA for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano

Arriving as it did both a scant year after the original (from a studio notorious for much longer development cycles) and amidst a feeling of extreme zombie exhaustion among gamers (RE5, Onechanbara, Plants vs. Zombies, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, CoD: WaW's Nazi zombies to name just a few from '09), Left 4 Dead 2 had to fight its way through a horde of skeptics before it could even begin to decimate the undead. The finished produce still manages to succeed, adhering as it does to the famed "bigger, better, more badass" sequel justification mantra, but with Valve games, it's all about the little things. Sure, the game delivers on all of the checkpoints one would expect in this sequel: More gore (courtesy of melee weapons like chainsaws and samurai swords), more variety (campaigns take place during night and day and feature dynamic weather effects), and more zombie carcasses to carve up (whether in a clown or a hazmat suit, they're going down). But in a tradition dating back to the supremely detailed landscapes of Half-Life 2, it's the little touches in L4D2 that create an oppressively bleak atmosphere and push the game beyond the realm of just a hyperactive zombie shooting gallery. Seemingly mundane places like a sugar mill or an abandoned motel are rendered endlessly creepy by their alternately constrictive and expansive layouts, while the centerpiece rescue scenarios (standoffs in an amphitheater or in the midst of a lightning storm) provide the eye bulging bombast that lesser games can only emulate.


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