originals\ Sep 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Zombies of Hollywood vs. Video Game Zombies


Zombies can’t be defeated.

Ever since the original Night of the Living Dead, zombies have been amongst the most popular fictional antagonists around. Sure, their popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, with another huge wave of zombie popularity arising during the George W. Bush years. During those years, we saw the release of movies like 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, the Dawn of the Dead remake and many more, as well as popular books like The Zombie Survival Guide and its pseudo-sequel World War Z.

I mention the previous president because the walking dead fad was expected to dwindle as the new administration came into office, as described by this fascinating article about how the popularity of zombies and vampires alternate based on which party is in power in Washington.

The author was right on about the rise in popularity of the vampire. But, as we all know, zombies haven’t gone anywhere.

High-brow cable network AMC is launching the big-budget zombie show The Walking Dead this Halloween. A new Resident Evil movie is right around the corner. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a literary smash. And, of course, Dead Rising 2 will soon bring zombies back to home consoles.

You may already be mowing down the undead in Dead Rising: Case Zero, the new downloadable game that introduces Dead Rising 2 protagonist Chuck Greene and the sequel’s newly refined zombie-killing gameplay. Check it out if you want to bust some undead heads.

Zombies are the perfect video game enemy. They’re scary, there are an infinite number of them, and they’re not quite human, so you don’t have to feel bad about slaughtering them.

That’s why Hollywood’s zombies would beat video game zombies in a fight.

Despite their obvious similarities, there’s a wide spread between what zombies mean in film and in games. No matter what social subject matter you hang on them in a film, movie zombies are inevitable. They’re legion; never-ending. Even if characters make it out of a movie alive, you’re often left with the feeling that doom is following close behind them. Bullets are scarce and so is food. There are no save points or extra lives. One bite and you’re done.

In zombie movies, death is always around the corner. And it will catch up eventually.

Even in games like Resident Evil that treat zombies as credible threats, the player will still always come out on top. A standard Resident Evil zombie isn’t really a hazard all by itself. In the early games, the tension comes from whether or not it’s worth it to use your precious ammo on a standard zombie. In later games, their threat comes from their numbers. The size of the crowd is what determines the danger of the undead in games like Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty: World at War’s Nazi Zombies mode, the aforementioned Dead Rising games, and more.

But we the gamers still come out on top.

Zombies in games are and always will be obstacles to be overcome, challenges to conquer. No matter their numbers, there will always be a weapon that will help you overcome it, provided you have the skill.

You’ll make it out alive.

But would you survive a zombie movie?

Probably not.

Sorry, it’s nothing personal. But your zombie-killing skills wouldn’t be much help against movie zombies. As much as it pains me to admit it, they’d tear our beloved video game zombies to pieces.

And don’t get me started about REAL zombies. Those guys are the worst of them all.

Jeremy M. Zoss is a veteran of the gaming industry. He’s written for Game Informer, OXM, G4 and many more. He’s also worked in games PR, but don’t hold that against him.

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