Left 4 Dead by Valve (videogame)

Valve. (2009). Left 4 Dead. [Video game]. Electronic Arts.

Genre: Horror, Action, Suspense, Thriller, Humor, Zombies

Reading level/ interest age: 17+

Plot summary:

Four survivors of a plague known as “Green Flu” must make their way to a helipad for evacuation at a hospital across town. They must survive hordes and scavenge for supplies along the way. Left 4 Dead is a first person shooter that allows for a four person co-op. Players must battle their way through zombies and unique mutants. Hunters pounce on unsuspecting prey and are hard to spot because their clothes match surrounding zombies. Boomers explode when near and emit a green ooze that attract more zombies. Lickers immobilize and then drag their victims off and away from help. Witches are placed strategically so that players have to listen for them. They are recognized by their cries and can be assassinated easily if snuck up on. However, if scared, witches will claw their enemies in a one-hit-kill. Lastly, Tanks are the hardest to kill and are strong enough to flip cars. Different weapons work best on different types of mutants. Players can choose from a variety of armaments from axes to pipe bombs. 

The game also has several different modes. Players can pick to go solo in single-player, roam with friends in co-op, attempt survival mode with unending hordes, or complete the campaign.

Reader’s annotation:

Lickers, Tanks, and Boomers oh my! Fight your way through the hordes to get to Mercy Hospital in time for evacuation.

Information about the author:

“When you give smart talented people the freedom to create without fear of failure, amazing things happen. We see it every day at Valve. In fact, some of our best insights have come from our biggest mistakes. And we’re ok with that! Since 1996, this approach has produced award-winning games, leading-edge technologies, and a groundbreaking social entertainment platform. We’re always looking for creative risk-takers who can keep that streak alive.

“We started with Half-Life®, the first-person, sci-fi shooter game that’s won more than 50 Game of the Year and a few ‘Best Game Ever’ awards. We expanded the Half-Life franchise with a sequel and Half-Life 2 Episodes 1 and 2. Then we added the horror titles Left 4 Dead® and Left 4 Dead 2, the multiplayer combat franchise Team Fortress®, the #1 online action game Counter-Strike® and the award-winning puzzlers Portal™ and Portal 2. And we’re just getting warmed up” (ValveStudios.com, 2014).

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       What is your favorite/least favorite zombie type to fight?
2.       Can you share any strategies for beating the game easier?

Critical evaluation:

Left 4 Dead might lack a storyline altogether but it more than makes up for it in gameplay. Designed as more of an old school arcade game, players only have to worry about getting from point A to point B through each area of the city. Character selection is pointless because none of them offer different strategic bonuses. Their dialogue between one another varies but is unimportant to the story. Players quickly learn which weapons work best for what foes but this can sometimes be frustrating the first few run-throughs. For example, a Tank is best taken out with a Molotov cocktail as lighting it on fire greatly diminishes its health. However, a player must have this weapon on them when confronted with a Tank or he or she will most likely run out of ammo and be killed otherwise. 

Most amusing are the small Easter Eggs players can find within the game. One of the reasons Left 4 Dead is rated as mature for nudity is simply because the developers decided to add zombies wearing open-backed hospital gowns. This is a game that does not take itself seriously and exists purely for a good dose of spray-and-prey.

Challenge issues:

·         Violence
·         Language
·         Nudity

Defensive Maneuvers: 

·         Have the library’s collection development policy memorized and on hand in case a situation arises.
·         Keep positive reviews on hand to refer to or hand out when needed.
·         If the book has won any awards, mention them to the patron and briefly explain the award.
·         Listen to the patron and practice good customer service skills when communicating. Let the customer know where or if he/she can escalate his/her complaint.
·         When necessary, cite sections of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights or refer to the ALA's Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials.

Why included:

Zombies are a poplar genre for the time being and so I believe that teens will enjoy this game. It currently has a sequel as well that they may enjoy playing after finishing this story.


ValveStudios.com. (2014). Welcome to Valve: We’re always creating. Retrieved August 24, 2014 
from http://www.valvesoftware.com/company/index.html

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