Left 4 Dead 2

Common Sense Media says

Intense, violent shooter with zombies requires teamwork.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game glorifies the violent and vicious slaying of zombies. Players are meant to gawk at and appreciate the extreme levels of gore and the wide variety of creative ways in which zombies can be slain.

Positive role models

Players determine their characters' actions. Consequently, the survivors are only as good or bad as players make them. Those who act on their own eventually hurt their team's chances and may cost them the game. Players must learn to work together and protect each other to survive. When one player is injured or falling off a ledge, another can choose to heal them with a health pack or pull them up. Or not.

Ease of play

Although the game doesn't include any kind of tutorial to walk players through the controls, they are pretty easy to pick up.  There's one trigger to attack and another to push away zombies. Since there's no aim function, players simply point and shoot (or melee attack).


Players use a wide array of firearms and explosives, including handguns, shotguns, assault rifles, hunting rifles, grenade launchers, molotov cocktails and pipe bombs to kill zombies. They can also grab melee weapons such as axes, baseball bats, guitars, police batons, chainsaws and crowbars to pummel zombies. Zombies' head get knocked off, or arms and legs may be severed, spewing tons of blood.

Not applicable

The worst words used were "s--t" and "asshole."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Players can take pain pills or a shot of adrenaline to gain a health boost. None of this is depicted in a glorious light. Survivors use them simply to stay alive long enough to escape.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Left 4 Dead 2 is an incredibly gory, violent shooter meant strictly for adults. Players must survive a zombie apocalypse by using a myriad of weapons, including handguns, shotguns, grenade launchers, axes, chainsaws, baseball bats and many others. Attacks look and sound vicious. When a zombie is hit with a bat, for example, you can hear a dull thud. Zombies' heads, arms, and legs will often fly off, and spew lots of blood that blankets the environments. However, it does promote teamwork more than most games. Players have to work together, healing, helping, and protecting one another, in order to survive. That means, though, that open voice chat is nearly mandatory, which opens the floodgates for the sharing of inappropriate words, ideas, and information.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

LEFT 4 DEAD 2 is a cooperative first-person shooter in which four people must survive a zombie apocalypse infesting the southern United States. Each campaign is a stand-alone adventure following a foursome of survivors as they attempt to escape. The game is a team effort, requiring players to work together and watch out for each other in order to survive. Players can tackle the campaigns alone, but the game is best played with others online. The game also features a Versus mode, where players can assume the role of zombies and attempt to eliminate the survivors. The game also includes a Survival mode, where players must outlast zombies for an extended time period, as well as a variation on the Versus option called Scavenge.

Is it any good?


The follow-up to last year's Left 4 Dead adds plenty more options in terms of weapons and enemy types. Players not only battle generic zombie hordes, but zombies with special powers. The Spitter, for example, spews acid. The addition of new weapons -- and especially the debut of melee items -- adds a greater level of variety to the action. The locales also feel fresh, taking players through various environments including an abandoned carnival and a shopping mall. While there are only five campaigns to choose from, there are plenty of modes available to enjoy, including Scavenge Mode, during which survivors must keep energy generators running while zombies attempt sabotage. Left 4 Dead 2 is also great at leaving the player feeling overwhelmed by throwing dozens of zombies in their direction. It's this kind of tension and thrill that makes it one of the year's best games for mature players.

Online interaction: Players can freely speak with each other in open chat, which means there is potential for inappropriate words, ideas, and information to be shared. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for children under age 12.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether a video game can be scary without being gory? Can you think of any games that fit this description? If a game has an option to lower the amount of gore seen on screen, do you ever use it? Why or why not?

  • Families can also discuss how the game places strong emphasis on using teamwork to survive. What do you think of this design? Would you rather be able to go off on your own? Does it feel strange to have to work so closely with strangers? Or do you prefer to play games like this only with close friends?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, Windows
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:November 17, 2009
Genre:First Person Shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, (Windows, Xbox 360)

This review of Left 4 Dead 2 was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator Written bymath professor June 18, 2011

Positive message within: this game DEMANDS teamwork, helping others and communication.

For adults and teenagers that are comfortable with gore, this game does provide much more than a visceral experience of running though a zombie apocalypse: a positive message is found within. The game more than promotes teamwork - it demands it. As a human survivor, you spend just as much time protecting, helping and healing teammates as you do yourself - everything from sharing resources to pulling them up off of a ledge. Leaving a teammate behind decreases your own chances by magnitudes, and running off on your own (going "Rambo") is never rewarded and almost always ends badly. The survivors only do well by sticking together and helping one another. Not many games can claim that.
The most popular game mode (versus) also allows teams to play on the zombie side, where similar themes are held true: only a team that plans and works together will stop the survivors. Attacking alone rarely has much of an effect, but a few opportunities do exist for zombie heroics (like the coveted death charge).
I would not allow a child under the age of 12 play this game. It is quite violent. But for adults and teenagers, this can be a game that offers everything from a quick release to a deep multiplayer or cooperative experience.

What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Kid, 9 years old Written bygokussj September 23, 2010

Seriously? its like the greatest game for ages 9-16 Even my 4 year old friend plays this game for gods sakes

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byReviewerkid13 July 5, 2010

Good Game

No one under 13 should be using online play as others can freely speak. Also, if you don't want to the gore, the settings could be easily changed or you can get the censored version. Language from the AI's is not really a problem. F*** is never used but s*** and ass and such are really minor. The gameplay is easy and there are good messages about teamwork.

What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models


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