Available in all modes (subject to the whim of the Director, of course) it sits in your health pack slot and gives you a single-use resurrection of a dead team-mate. Finding one after someone's dead brings yet another critical decision: go back and get another helper, or fight on unaided?
You talk purdy
There's even more of a story, just, although it's still a self-assembly affair. The end of each campaign sets up the next, but there's no explicit narration and you have to work out what's happening from the graffiti and the snippets of conversation and the like that open and close each mission.
This means a lot of listening to Ellis. By far the most talkative person of the four survivors, he's the sort of redneck who would regard a house cat as good eatin', and has an endless supply of daft stories and inane observations - we can't decide if he's going to be the most popular character, or the most irritating.
The others are less notable but still crack wise throughout, meaning that the very rare quiet moments bring a new and unexpected interjection.
And that's L4D2 all over: in every game, the world ends a slightly different way. You'll find a different route to take, you'll hear another dud story from Ellis, you'll try a different weapon combination, or a different tactic in the finale.
It should even make single-player more bearable, although we still aren't going to recommend it. L4D2's genius lies in the multiplayer, and to play it solo is to miss the reason why it's so good.
It does leave you wanting more, and wondering why tricks in some campaigns aren't used in others. The weather effects and the Director's ability to rearrange certain levels are the most obvious candidates; they're the sort of thing you wish was present in every campaign, and we suspect that the only reason they're not is because they'll pop up as DLC.
But that's a small complaint; in all other respects this is a bigger, deeper, endlessly thrilling exercise in survival. The first Left 4 Dead proved a handful of campaigns could provide months of replay value; the extra variety this brings should last years. It's up there with MW2 as a must-buy multiplayer game for Xbox Live.
An absolutely superb multiplayer experience
- Excellent set-pieces
- Genuine variety
- Endlessly replayable
- Ellis is great, probably
- Still want more campaigns