The 8 Ball 10.29.13: Top 8 Zombie Games
Posted by Marc Morrison on 10.29.2013
From Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare and Resident Evil 4 to The Walking Dead and more, 411's Marc Morrison ranks his Top 8 Zombie Games!
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. Given that it's near Halloween, I thought something festive might be in order. Instead of scary games (which are mostly just Dead Space, and PC indie horror games), I instead chose to do zombies games. Everyone likes zombies these days so why not come up with a few lists based around them? With that in mind, let's begin:
8. Left 4 Dead (Series)
Left 4 Dead is considered by some people as the seminal zombie game. Those people are all pretty crazy. L4D (1 and 2) did introduce some good concepts to gaming, like real co-op first person gaming, and the AI director making every playthrough randomized, the game itself is lackluster. Just because the zombies are different each level doesn't make it an especially fun game. And if you're playing the game solo (like I mostly did), it became a chore to get through. I also disliked the fact that every character played the same. While it meant that everyone was on equal ground, there was no differentiation between the characters. A certain game later down on this list resolved this issue.
7. The Walking Dead
Most, if not all, of my negative feelings on the Walking Dead game is focused on the technical issues. I played it on PC and got through episodes 1-4 just fine. Prior to episode 5 being released I installed Windows 8 on my machine, and had no problems with it. Until I booted up Walking Dead (with my gamepad plugged in), and it erased my save file. Telltale's response of "Eh…oh well" severely soured me on the game at that point, and I've yet to return to it. It's a shame to, since up to that point I did like it, and was interested in the story of Lee, Clementine and the rest. Maybe I'll go back to it someday, probably after The Wolf Among Us is all done.
6. Dead Rising (Series)
In the strict "game" sense, Dead Rising isn't very fun. The game is based solely on the idea of timers running down and doing rescue/escort missions filled with some of the dumbest NPC's imaginable. However, the game is populated by dozens of zombies on the screen at any given time and gives you a lot of different weapons to use against them. The game, well Dead Rising 2 anyway, is a lot more fun to play on PC because with trainers and such, you can just break it down further and do what you really want in it. I don't have a lot of personal hope for Dead Rising 3, but I guess we'll all just have to wait and see if it improves the series or not.
5. Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 went a long way in modernizing the Resident Evil formula. While the prior games weren't bad, they were a bit anachronistic, especially by the time Code Veronica/RE3 rolled around. Those games were made for a certain time but technology had grown and the RE franchise needed to grow with it. While I'm not a fan of everything they did in RE4, notably all the QTE's, it did go a long way in making a clean break from the old series and doing something new. From the weapon upgrading mechanic, to how zombies evolves, and the way Leon could move all felt good. The only truly big downside of RE4 was the Ashley partner stuff, which lead to it being a focal point of RE5, and then has almost lead to the ruination of the series in RE6. It might be time to retire the co-op aspect fellas, and try another path for the series.
4. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
Undead Nightmare stretches the definition of a "game", but it did come out as a disk you could play without regular RDR, so it's close enough. Undead Nightmare was cool just because of how it radically altered the Red Dead world. Instead of all the penny ante crap from Red Dead, helping a Mexican revolution, or trying to trying to catch Dutch, it's just about trying to stop the zombies and figure out what's going on. The expansion/game was fun in other ways like seeing characters from the game being hilariously slaughtered, taming the horses of the Apocalypse and the way you come back at the end. The zombies moved a little too fast for my taste but setting fire to them never got old.
3. Plants vs. Zombies
Michael Jackson zombie. /done I actually think Plants vs. Zombies might be one of the few tower defense games I actually like. PvZ offers a lot of flexability in how it handles each stage. Sure you do recognize patterns after a while but there can always be some new zombie type that will bypass your defenses and really screw up your day. I think this is one of the few games where the zombies are cute, notably the Disco Zombie. The F2P nature of PvZ 2 (and it only being on mobile platforms) has caused me not to play it. However I have faint hopes that it will eventually come to PC and be a good game on the system. As long as it comes out on Steam anyway.
2. Dead Island
Dead Island is essentially Left 4 Dead "done correctly". From having actual character classes in the game, to a much improved melee system, to quests, loot and different weapons, the game is miles above anything Left 4 Dead tried to do. The sense of humor in the game is a bit goofy but the environments were great (at the start), and it felt like a believable world that had gone down to hell. Sadly, the game falls apart around the half-way point (when you hit the town hall), but the first half is better than both Left 4 Dead games combined, easy.
1. Resident Evil 2
The first game was revolutionary but was a bit rough around the edges. The second improved upon the first though with better graphics, audio, gameplay and story. The branching story (zapping system) was also neat, with the Leon A/Claire B, or vice versa, which could have gameplay consequences for your characters. If you hogged all the ammo with Leon, Claire could find herself in a tougher spot as she goes through her story. Resident Evil 4 definitely plays better by modern standards, but in its time, Resident Evil 2 was a very fun game to play that had actual tension and scares, which is something the later (RE4 and up) games have forgotten about. Resident Evil 2 remains among not only one of the best zombie games, but one of the best games of that generation.
The Better Half with Liana K
Top 8 Games Containing Zombies or Zombie-Like Products
Sometimes a zombie isn't a zombie. In fact, most zombies haven't been traditional voodoo zombies since George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, when the creatures called "ghouls" in the script were labelled zombies by a very freaked out movie-going public.
The sorts of creatures classified under the broad umbrella of "zombies" since then has widened significantly. Unfortunately for me, I'm exhausted by the whole zombie fad. Yeah, it's a steady source of easy costumes for ugly people, but otherwise it's gotten really boring. Every so often, however, a game comes along and pleasantly surprises me, like the following eight titles. Yes, I'm aware there are more than eight. I just tried to stay away from the obvious ones like Call of Duty or Dead Rising. I like to make things difficult on myself. Behold the wonder to follow!
8: Fallout New Vegas
The folks who got the short end of the nuclear stick in Fallout's various wastelands are known as ghouls, but we've already established that ghouls and zombies are essentially the same thing... because you guys study every word I write, M I RITE? Anyway, Fallout New Vegas used ghouls for their ideal purpose: maximum comedy potential. This is literal in one case: Hadrian is a stand up comedian. However, the Bright Brotherhood "Come Fly With Me" quest was also one of my favorite New Vegas distractions, mostly because it was just so goofy. There are also ghoul NCR soldiers and bounty hunters who are great characters throughout the game. Super Mutants are still more awesome in my mind, but New Vegas brought back the humor and charm of the old Interplay games, and the ghouls share in that credit, even if they don't have the status of wasteland smoothskins.
7: Warcraft III
Yes, there was a Warcraft before World of Warcraft. In Warcraft III, the Scourge was introduced. This was before the Lich King expansion and all the Death Knight-related game breakage. The Scourge existed in a time that was pure and good, and hours were wasted in front of a computer mining gold and harvesting lumber, instead of sitting around with your thumb up your ass waiting to get enough people to start a raid. Then halfway through that raid, my internet dies and I get absolutely NOTHING for all my hours wasted... Can you tell World of Warcraft makes me bitter? YOU BET IT DOES! Stupid WoW. I'm a hipster. And I remember Warcraft before it sold out.
6: Dead Space
The necromorphs are a classic example of a zombie-like product. They are not zombies. They do, however, do many of the same things zombies do, and play the roles generally reserved for zombies, just much faster, with exploding babies. However, the term "necromorph" and the associated imagery can be trademarked, therefore making them much more appealing to video game companies. Furthermore, creating a zombie-like product instead of straight up zombies provides greater creative freedom to produce increasingly outlandish and inhuman types of zombie-like products which can also be trademarked. Ah capitalism.
5: Plants Versus Zombies
Roll your eyes all you want, PvZ is a great game. It also has some of the most recognizable zombies in video games, and Crazy Dave. There's a zombie on your lawn... Sing it with me!
4: Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse
Stubbs the Zombie is a classic from the original Xbox that was probably ahead of its time. This retro-futuristic parody of zombie tropes and classic films had an enjoyable story and big laughs, and enough insanity to keep a short, linear game a ton of brain munching fun. If you're still not convinced, check out this awesome patriotic zombie speech, delivered by Stubbs himself:
3: The Walking Dead
I'm bored by the TV show, and the comic book rises and falls on its art. The Walking Dead franchise and its ironically horde-like fanbase are large parts of why I'm tired of zombie stuff. But Telltale Games made me care so darned much about Clementine that I'll play more Walking Dead games, even if the Season One DLC didn't quite work for me. Oh, and more Omid! I want more Omid! Omid was awesome. Did anyone ever feed his cat? I only want to know if the answer is yes.
2: Resident Evil
No list of zombie games would be complete without a representative of the T-Virus, Las Plagas, Ouroburos, or whatever the heck they decide to call it next. Resident Evil plots are as difficult to follow as a black cat at night, but the games are still fun, and they're still the standard for video game zombies... even if they aren't actually zombies. Is Wesker back from the dead again yet? No? Why not? I chose the original game because it was the one that defined the survival horror genre, and I wasn't as enamoured of RE 4's "Press X To Not Die" fest as the rest of the video game media. When your game features an evil cultists on chain guns and a dwarf dressed as Napoleon driving a giant statue robot, stop there. Go to boss fight. More is just more. The military bunker level that was the actual end of RE 4 just made me long for the giant dwarf robot smashy smashiness. Resident Evil games may also feature the dumbest protagonists in the history of dumb, but they're still fun, even if they lose their way every three games or so.
1: The Last of Us
The Last of Us stood on the shoulders of multiple giants to take its place as the fastest-selling new title in the history of the PS3. On top of that, it was actually a good game. Like other games on this list, it features zombies that aren't really zombies, but the fungus-headed clickers are at least based on real-life cordyceps. The Last of Us also features memorable characters, visceral melee combat, accessible stealth mechanics, and a survival game that actually deals with, you know, survival. While The Walking Dead chronicles the gradual but inevitable extinction of infected survivors in the US South, The Last of Us injects just enough hope into the required zombie-associated nihilism to stop a callus from forming on a player's emotions. The choices and sacrifices feel real instead of calculated, and it's the first story involving zombie-like critters in quite a while that feels like it's saying something new.
I do have a secondary list, which I'll get to in a second, but I'll address three big omissions from my main one first. Regarding The Last Of Us and State of Decay, I haven't played them yet. I'm sure they are fine games (Last of Us more so than State of Decay), but since I haven't touched either, I can't render any judgment on them. The third game I'll mention is Dead Space. While you can have a semantics argument about whether or not Necromorphs are zombies or not (don't care either way), I personally just didn't like any of the Dead Space (1 or 2) games that I played. I can recognize that they are quality games, they just did nothing for me personally, and I stopped playing each about 2 or 3 hours in. And I never played 3. Anyway, here's the rest of my "others" list: Saints Row 3, , ZombiU, DayZ, Yakuza: Dead Souls, Oregon Trail Directors Cut, , House of the Dead, Stubbs the Zombie and Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
The General Roundup
There were a pretty decent amount of comments from last week that I'll try an address now: Regarding Kingdom Hearts 2, I think the villains are in cahoots with each other, but I'm not sure? I know Organization XIII is bad, but I forget how Ansem is linked up with them, if he even is. I honestly think most Shin Megami Tensei games have a fairly approachable story. The first Devil Summoner game goes a bit crazy (the Megazord near the end), but Nocturne and Persona 3, 4, and Arena have all had straightforward stories to me. Those are the only SMT games I've played. DOA 5 might just be deliberately trying to screw with the audience playing the game. It's the only way that mess of a story could actually happen.