My Favorite Zombie: The Boomer from Left4Dead

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To celebrate the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC this Sunday, we here at Techland will be picking out our favorite formerly deceased monsters across comics, games, film and other media. The zombie myth’s been around for centuries and has been reinterpreted almost as much as vampire lore. At their most basic, though, zombies represent us and everything that can go wrong (or right?) on the dark side of human nature. We’ll be trying to show off some of the most intriguing examples of that symbolism as My Favorite Zombie rolls out.

See everyone else’s favorite zombies here.

First, let’s get this out of the way: yes, I know that the zombies in Left4Dead aren’t technically zombies. They’re the Infected. Semantics, I say.

When the initial discussion about each contributor’s favorite portrayal of the undead came up, I knew that I’d be picking one of the Special Infected from Valve’s awesome survival horror FPS games. The problem was which one, because they’re all awesome in their own way.

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When the tentacle-like tongue of a Smoker pulls you away from a group of Survivors, the isolation can kill you in a game where being alone means almost certain death. Tanks are basically zombie Hulks and that’s a fearsome combo. The Hunter’s hooded countenance makes him the most foreboding and the way he violently attacks you when you’re pinned to the ground leaves you feeling utterly helpless.

I almost came close to choosing the Witch, because she represents one of the most brilliantly scary enemies ever to pop up in games: a boss character that you can only “beat” by not fighting. But, for me, it’s the fatty who’s won my heart.

The Boomer taps into something psychological in a few respects. First, his appearance shows what happens when gluttony goes awry. Forget being big-boned; this guy was morbidly obese even before he died. Those sores allover his body reinforce the fact that this is a very unnatural creature you’re coming up against. You can hear his nauseating sounds way before you ever see him and when you do spot him, he moves impossibly fast for something his size. And then there’s what he does, which is vomit profusely. His sole task is puke all over L4D‘s hapless humans, which calls forth a marauding wave of zombies onto the unlucky player. ┬áIt’s one of the grossest attacks ever in a video game and the terror that follows as you get dogpiled by the Horde has yet to be matched.

When L4D unveiled its Versus mode in 2009, gamers got to control the huge zombie and my love affair got even deeper. The Boomer’s essentially a sniper in multiplayer combat and you can hide and puke and hide and puke if you’re really good at using him. Nothing’s more satisfying than watching a player-controlled Survivor drown under a wave of Infectd that you’ve called in.

Boomer stands as a cautionary consequence of overconsumption and says that, even after death, you can still get sick to your stomach. And everybody suffers. God help you if you’re a human.