Some things never change, and one of them is Valve's time keeping. Arriving a few days later than planned, Digital Spy has gone hands-on with the timed-exclusive demo of the much-debated Left 4 Dead 2. Although the teaser only covers a couple of stages (around twenty minutes of play time) you can instantly recognise the numerous changes they've made, all of which adjust the way you play, yet effortlessly slot into the existing template established in the first game.
The Jockey, perhaps the most devious of the bunch, jumps on your shoulders and directs you away from the group and towards other enemies. While he seems to have a similar job to the Charger, the fact that he can lead a member astray in such a short span of time causes you to stick closer together as a group in case he makes an appearance. The AI Director knows exactly what to do with him too, by planting people in the middle of hordes, or in the path of other special infected such as the Spitter, who vomit puddles of corrosive bile that's hazardous to touch.
The regular special infected all make a come back, although in lower abundance to give the new guys some prominence. (We didn't see a single Tank in our three playthroughs, for example.) While they're still up to their old tricks, the Witcher can now wander around in daylight, and reacts in the exact same deadly manner when disturbed. The standard infected have also received a touch up, where certain infected come dressed in bullet-dampening police armour, sprint in more of a zig-zag motion to avoid fire, and are now liable to shed limbs from inaccurate shots.
Structurally, the first level lasts just a few minutes, making your way from a ferry and through several sun-lit backstreets to a safe house, which leads you directly to a 15-minute slog through a wide open park and a makeshift treatment centre. It also removes the points where you defend an area as the hordes swarm in, instead having you run to a certain point to switch off an alarm while fighting off countless infected. The elongated isles to the certain structure that houses the alarm switch have zombies jumping from fences and an overhead freeway and on one playthrough, it stuck a wondering Witch halfway down the path, completely stalling our progress while the special infected arrived to break us up and finish us off. The director is still just as chaotic and scheming as ever.
Left 4 Dead 2 is released on November 17 for PC and 360.