Left 4 Dead

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Left 4 Dead Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Combines multiplayer shooter with gory survival-horror.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 32 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 86 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

You play as one of four survivors of a Zombie attack, and have to fight for your life. If you play the multiplayer mode, part of the gameplay involves getting help from other online players who can heal you.


Similar to many other first-person shooter, this game features ample amounts of violence, blood, and gore. Players work together to take on wave after wave of zombies and other creatures with more than 10 different kinds of weapons, such as shotguns, machine guns, Molotov cocktails, and hand grenades. Body parts, such as heads and arms, can be blown off, as the undead enemies scream in pain. Blood can be seen splattering on the walls or floors.


No "F" word, but players can hear "s--t," "damn" and "goddamn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this game contains graphic violence and gore not suitable for young players. It is a first-person shooter in which the player is fighting zombies and other mutated creatures. Gamers can blow off enemy heads and limbs using a variety of weapons and see blood-splattered or streaked floors and walls. Characters will utter profanity.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bySaratovApproach15 June 8, 2014

Very fun 1st person shooter.

First of all. Some parents may hesitate to buy this game for their kid(s). You go to the store and your son asks for this game, you look at the back and see the... Continue reading
Parent of a 11 and 12-year-old Written byjustdoitman May 14, 2009

ESRB is off the mark with this one.

I have two sons. One is almost 13, and the other is 11. Now, the thing is, both of them can play this game. I bought it for them. I see nothing wrong with eithe... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byyoulouzer26 March 23, 2015

Good, but VERY gory

I feel that, this game is fun but gory and has some profanity.
Teen, 14 years old Written byTsukasa March 30, 2009


First, this is a brilliant, co-op shooter. this is great to play in groups
yes i will ahve to admit, the dismemberment and blood would be a bit much, for childr... Continue reading

What's it about?

We've seen "survival horror" video games, pitting man against deadly creatures in scary environments, and we've seen multiplayer-focused first-person shooters with an emphasis on co-op play. Now there's LEFT 4 DEAD, a new zombie thriller that combines both genres into an intense – yet mature – action experience. Published by Valve, the creators of Half Life and Counter-Strike, comes this modern-day survival horror game that challenges four "survivors" to stay alive despite attacks by hordes of the undead and mutated creatures. By working together and coordinating efforts, players will traipse through dangerous locations – such as a subway tunnel, countryside, airport, loading dock and hospital – and will need to help each other to stay alive (example: only a teammate can help another survivor if taken down by a zombie). Players can also heal each other and save their progress at safehouse spots and rescue points.

The main game is divided into four scenarios, each lasting about 60 to 90 minutes or so, but the time it'll take depends on how the survivors -- the attractive Zoey, a biker Francis, an army vet Bill and an average guy Louis-- tackle the level as a few alternate routes and objectives can extend the adventure. While this doesn't sound like a long game, gamers can play Left 4 Dead solo, with artificial intelligence (A.I.) handling the other survivors (called 'bots), or better yet, with 2 or 3 other online players for both the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game. In fact, playing with real people is preferred as you can better strategize and work together instead of the A.I. teammates merely following your lead (and if you're hurt, you can't request to change formation with 'bots as you can with human players). Zombies can move slowly, like Night of the Living Dead, or quickly, a la 28 Weeks Later. Then there's creeps like The Smoker with its frog-like tongue that can strangle those out to harm it.

Is it any good?

Left 4 Dead will surely satiate fans of co-op shooters, such as Counter-Strike, Call of Duty and Halo 3, with its cooperative multiplayer modes, as well as provide some creepy moments for those who are into "survival horror" games. A co-op focused game isn't for everyone, but Left 4 Dead certainly succeeds in trying something new with this hybrid thriller.

For those wanting to give the online co-op play a try, consider the single player experience as a practice round. Another plus is that other game modes exist, too, along with nearly two-dozen maps, such as a "Versus" option that allows gamers to assume role of a "Boss Infected" enemy instead of a human survivor, which proves to be a fun alternative if you have some friends who are up for it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about genre fusing. Does a game like Left 4 Dead successfully combine two different genres to create an all-new experience? Or should game makers only stick to one genre and make it as good as possible? Also, would this game be as effective with considerably less violence and gore or is it very much part of the appeal (and thrill)?

Game details

  • Platforms: Xbox 360, Windows
  • Price: $44.99 - $54.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Valve
  • Release date: November 17, 2008
  • Genre: Survival Horror
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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