Ah…the traditional zombie.
Put in an internet search for zombie related games & you will generate quite a list even though half of them are not exactly zombies. That’s the problem, the line has been blurred so much that it’s hard to identify what is a zombie game & what isn’t. Dead Space? Technically they are all dead….
This is list are the 10 games that tried to stick to the traditional zombie (give or take) & made the best use of them.
10 – Deadlight
In Deadlight the zombies are nothing but dark silhouettes called shadows. Like the true zombie they don’t appear to be that threatening until they get close. More than 1 of them? Panic stations. Deadlight does an amazing job of making the zombies a serious threat, you have to actively avoid them & if you do manage to knock one to the floor you need to kill them quick before they get back up. Some of the most heart-pounding moments involved me running for my life just hoping that there would be something I could climb to get out of their reach soon.
9 – Left 4 Dead
I still remember the first time I set off a car alarm & got the message that a horde was incoming. That was a seriously panicky moment. Ignoring the special zombies that exist in the game the standard horde was scary enough. Anytime you see a large amount of zombies running at you you’re in trouble.
8 – House of the Dead series
The latest iterations may have strayed heavily away from its zombie routes but the first few games in the series did an amazing job of making you feel like you were in a life or death struggle with the undead. Every corner had some new horror for you to experience, every door led to a room full of grotesque walking dead & all you had was your light gun to blow holes in them as they shambled towards you. Playing House of the Dead on the full arcade machine is an experience everyone should enjoy at least once.
7 – Dead Island
Another game with running zombies….it’s also the game famous for deceiving a lot of people with its amazing trailer that promised so much & delivered none of it. Dead Island was a huge let down for a lot of people, me included however I did enjoy thanks to its excellent zombie designs. These guys & girls were scary & dangerous, you had to think on your toes & plan your excursions. Exploring the deserted holiday homes & local city was fun & a real lesson in when to fight & when to run. It is a pity that the rest of the game is such a damp squib…
6 – Plants vs. Zombies series
These zombies want to eat your brains….to stop them you have to protect your garden with plants that fight back! This is a game that shouldn’t work but instead it has become the blue-print all tower defence games copy from, wave after wave of detailed cartoon zombies attack while you build your plant defences. The variation between zombies & their attacks makes them so much more interesting & it’s hard not to smile when you first receive a badly written note asking you to leave your gate open for them…they promise not to do anything.
5 – The Walking Dead (Telltale Series)
I don’t agree with the many people who declared the 5-part series as game of the year 2012. Story-wise it is very impressive but it’s so light on actual game play I couldn’t support it being hailed as such. That being said it does a wonderful job of presenting zombies as a serious threat even when individual ones attack.
Like the show these are zombies to be feared…before you know it you will surrounded & that means death. Desperate battles for survival & a sense of impending doom not related to zombies makes a great atmosphere but the fear gauge increases everything they are near.
4 – State Of Decay
State Of Decay had a lot of promise which it didn’t quite live up to but it came pretty close in the end. An ‘open world’ survival game where food, medicine & building materials have to be scavenged across a pretty huge map. You build a community; populate it with survivors all with unique personalities & problems then try to survive.
Zombies are everywhere & can be dealt in a variety of ways…the thing that impressed me the most was the first time I under-estimated the dead. You see the more noise you make, the more zombies will come running….add breakable weapons, no cars & stamina that is dropping the more zombies you fight & you can easily get into trouble.
That is exactly what happened to me & resulted in one of my favourite characters dying…you see when they die in State Of Decay…they stay dead. I was a lot more mindful of the dangers involved with zombies afterwards…
3 – Red Dead Redemption – Undead Nightmare
That the first of the top 3 best uses of zombies in games would be a DLC shows the strength of said DLC.
Undead Nightmare took the already brilliant template of Red Dead & added a zombie spin on it. It was truly an amazing experience that was as fun as it was terrifying. Galloping through streets that I had spent so much time in before but where now deserted save for the walking dead will live long in the memory.
Everything was given a zombie spin…missing persons, graveyard battles with zombies, fighting zombified animals & my favourite…taming the 4 horses of the apocalypse (if you can find them).
2 – Resident Evil Series
The game that made the zombie famous…who doesn’t remember the slow heads turn to see blood dripping from its mouth. What is it? It’s a monster!
Ok so modern Resident Evil games haven’t really given the zombie as much strength as it used too. Resident Evil 4/5/Revelations don’t even have any in them (we are talking some variation at least of the typical zombie) while Resident Evil 6 & Operation Raccoon City’s are so far removed from the original type its frustrating.
It wasn’t always this way though & the early games all the way up to Code Veronica can hold their undead heads high. Resident Evil zombies were scary & relied on strategy to deal with. Ammo was short so missing was out of the question & letting them get to close was a lesson in suicide.
Even now I consider the Resident Evil zombie the game changer….
1 – Dead Rising Series
Surprised? For me the Dead Rising series is the most fun I’ve had in a zombie game to date. It’s the most challenging & varied zombie game & one I hold very dear to my heart. The first games notorious difficulty has made it a firm favourite for me & it’s far too easy to overlook the threat the mass of zombies offer.
That is what makes Dead Rising so special…just how many of them appear on screen together. Grab a van & go drive under the tunnels to see what I mean…it is insane & very impressive.
Future sequels may have dumbed down the difficulty level but they ramped up the fun making the zombies less of a threat & more of an obstacle. An obstacle that you had to remove any way possible; be with chainsaws attached to kayaking paddles or electrified wheelchairs.
I never would have thought that competitive multiplayer involving zombie mini-games would be so much fun but Dead Rising 2 did a stand-up job. It’s the cleverness of the games that makes them so good…such as seeing who can put the most clothes on zombies or the gory chainsaw bike rides.
Dead Rising 3 is the only game that has me thinking about getting an X-Box One sooner rather then later.