Zombies, zombies, zombies!!!!
October 31, 2008
Zombies, zombies, zombies!!!!
By Mike David
GameZone's Mike David takes a chilling look at zombie games over the years.
They are often gooey, leaking various body fluids from all sorts of places, many times they are followed by other vermin, they are not clean by any means. No, I'm not talking about the strange people who seem to be at the bus station all the time yet never go anywhere, I'm talking about zombies. Quite possibly the most underrated yet often used creature in the monster rogues gallery. Let's think about this for a second, the zombie is scary because we are them. No other monster is as terrifying because, no other monster could be Grandma Edna. Zombies move slow and unnaturally and because of that, we are disturbed on a level we're not quite sure of. They are dangerous in packs because normally they are slow and often times have missing limbs. Not that this stops them, they scare us because they are darn near impossible to put down permanently. With so many zombie movies out there and almost everyone of them discovering that the only way to kill a zombie is to destroy the brain, then I'd say even the common 11 year old will be ready should the invasion actually occur. Problem is, who made this rule up? What if there is a zombie invasion, yet the crucial kill point is the pinkie toe? Then were all in deep trouble.
Caption: "Anybody got a tic-tac? I just ate Chuck and he wasn't too fresh."
This is an easy subject for me, zombies that is. A totally misspent youth watching late night cable in the 80's has forged an almost disturbing affection for that which comes back to life and tries to eat the living. Zombies, have fortunately found a way into arguably one of the most popular mediums, the video game. So walk (slowly) with me, if you dare, and we'll take a look at the history of zombies in videogames, at least the ones that had a profound effect on me.
The history of zombies in video games is a fairly full and detailed one. Zombies have been popping up for a while now and for those gamers over 30, may remember a little game called Ghosts and Goblins way back in the day, this was the first game I can recall actually featuring zombies crawling out of the grave and coming after you. In fact many coin op arcade games featured our rotting friends coming after you, but they always had that comic feel and weren't really all that scary. It wasn't until the 90's that games actually tried to scare the snot out of you that the zombie resurgence became full blown. Here's my list:
1. Doom (PC, PS1,) 1993
This was the one that started it for me, former soldiers on a Mars moon turned into the undead. They would even pick up weapons and shoot at you. The nifty thing was that there was blood coming out of their eyes, they were former members of your team and I was totally freaking out that this was a first person shooter and I could kill zombies. Graphics were pretty grainy back then and I could care less, this was the coolest thing I had seen at the time.
Caption: "Hard to believe but I thought these wee cool looking 15 years ago."
2. House of the Dead (Saturn, Wii,
Those gamers who wanted to actually get the feel of unloading six shots of a .44 mag into the head of a zombie didn't have to look too far. This game was one of the few light gun games for home consoles that pretty much worked out really well. I reviewed and played the recent Wii port and while nothing new has been added in terms of gameplay, it still can be a heck of a good time to squeeze off seven or eight thousand rounds into the shambling dead. Yes there are zombies, tons of them in fact and nothing is more satisfying then placing several shots right between their eyes. Again, this has more of a comic feel to it and players are never really scared as they are too busy pulling the trigger and admiring the buckets and buckets of gore that is featured throughout the series.
3. Blood (PC) 1997
The zombies in this vicious little game often whisper "brainsssss" as was made famous by the Living Dead movie series. Zombies look pretty cruddy by today's standards, but in 1997, I couldn't get enough of blowing them away with flare guns and sawed off shotguns, the pitchfork also proved to be a handy device for dispatching the walking dead. Honestly, the zombies played a minor role in the cast of villains, but to this fan, I liked it anyway. This game is one of my all time favorites and I (true fact) actually named my youngest son after the anti-hero of the game.
4. Resident Evil (PS1, GC) 1996
There isn't much more I can say about this title that hasn't been said before, it was the title that invented the "survival horror" genre and for all intents and purposes, was a "B" movie that you got to play. The zombies in this game were more, ahem, fleshed out then in any other zombie-featured game prior and players had to use the "rules" that were established from several zombie movies. Things like, blowing their head off or destroying the body through flame (rocket launcher, but you know what I mean) were crucial. Those players who would only use the knife sort of missed out on the whole experience, but nonetheless, this was the game that started making zombies cool again. The remakes and sequels also kept the current zombie craze going with faster, running zombies, ones that spit bile at you and others that just would not stay down no matter how many times you shot them. Hearing one shamble down a hallway I couldn't see yet still gives me shivers.
5. Onimusha Warlords (PS2, Xbox)
I can't geek out enough when it comes to zombies from other time periods. In this one, the zombies are actually samurai warriors and like to try and cut up our hero Samanosuke, who promptly shows us all what a trained samurai can do with a sword, a short fuse and several zombies willing to lay down their lives (undead or not) for their evil leader. The zombies don't play a big role in this one, but they are a main stay in the villain department and quite frankly, zombies wearing samurai garb, cowboy hats or any other sort of period clothing has always struck me as cool. Look for a movie called Gallowwalker coming out soon that uses this sort of thing. Anyways, Onimusha isn't big on scares as much as it is on story and really cool boss battles, a winner in my book.
6. Eternal Darkness (GC) 2002
If there was ever a game that should have been a blockbuster and wasn't, this was it. Zombies are only part of the hellish nightmares players are subjected to but they do make things a bit more uncomfortable, so much so that I really feel that it bears mentioning. The sharp look of the game and disturbing ways the game messed with your mind only further solidified how awesome an undead adventure it really was. Oh sure, like other games of the genre, there were other creatures to contend with, but hey, there were zombies, and they moved in an unnatural feral way, it was disturbing and fun at the same time.
7. Dead Rising (360, Wii) 2006
Literally taking a page out of a Romero film, Dead Rising stuck you in a large suburban shopping mall that was completely overrun with zombies. The game was a zombie lovers dream since you could pick up almost anything and turn it into a weapon, much like you will want to do when the zombies finally rise up and try and take over. Regardless, the game was filled with thousands of the flesh eaters and in a surprise twist (Spoiler here) getting the best 72 hour finish means becoming infected yourself and attempting to cure yourself of the virus. Zombies behave pretty much on par with the widely held thought that they are slow moving, nearly indestructible eating machines who are only dangerous when in packs. This is never been more true then when you are trying to run through crowds and crowds of the darn things. But the great thing was that if you needed to clear a path, you just needed to pick up a bench and start swinging, problem (temporarily) solved.
Caption: "I'm gonna need a machine gun, and a fresh pair of shorts."
8. Dead Space (360, PS3) 2008
I don't want to talk semantics with you, but if it's reanimated flesh, then it's a zombie. I don't care what you say, those are zombies roaming that spaceship and, heavens to mergatroid, I about crapped myself. Dead Space is a bonafide "pee your pants" style game. Making good use of the reanimated flesh of a 1000 person crew, our man Isaac the engineer, not the super soldier, is gonna need some super underwear if he's gonna make out of this futuristic zombie filled splatter fest with his head still attached and his shorts still clean. Dead Space is my personal recommendation this Halloween for those of you wanting to play something that will make you jump or at least make you squeamish at the sight of what an alien army of zombies can do when properly motivated.
9. Left 4 Dead (PC, 360) 2008
I know, I know, the game isn't out yet, so how does it make the list. Well because I said so, that's why... but really, Left 4 Dead will be a co-op style survival horror game that uses what the two "Resident Evil Outbreak " titles couldn't quite accomplish. Here's hoping that the end result is as every bit awesome as we think it will be. Imagine an online game where the zombies are constantly coming after you and you must rely on the other total strangers (or friends) for survival. I have big hopes for L4D because if successful, then we will see all sorts of other scenarios with zombies coming after you, and you can never have too many zombie games.
So there you have it, and in closing I will tell you, that several years ago, I actually made up a Zombie survival plan for my household. I have bottled water, canned foods, a way to seal off the upstairs so no one can come through the downstairs or the front door, lots of ammunition, an itchy trigger finger to go along with my dead aim, a generator and everyone of my zombie video games nearby for quick referral to should the need arise. You may want to think about making the same sort of plan for your family as well. The last thing I want to hear is "Brainsssss."
Be sure to check out our first Halloween Feature: Horror through the Years: A Look at Some Pivotal Titles in the Horror Genre - From Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Dead Space, the Horror Genre has seen some change for the better over the decades.
And our second Halloween Feature: Still Alive After All These Horrific Years - We take a look at survival/horror’s two most enduring franchises.