A Zombified Halloween of Gaming
by Austin Godfrey
Walking down an abandoned street. Wind blows debris of a former society by. My senses on high all, I hear are the steps of my tired feet. At a moments notice the moans of the undead bellow out. I raise my weathered rifle to meet the threat of the zombie rush head-on.
The zombie apocalypse; a post-societal playground for gamers and gun nuts. I've done my fair share of Z-day planning, and when the undead plague tears across the world I'm ready to grab my crew and supplies, and hold out against the zombie horde.
Until that day though, I have to turn to video games to vent my desire to blow apart reanimated flesh. After all, practice makes perfect.
So this Halloween weekend what's the best way to let out your inner Romero?
The Dead Rising Series
The quintessential zombie slaughter games, in Dead Rising and Dead Rising 2 zombies aren't your enemies, they're your toys. I've sunk hours into Dead Rising making absolutely no story progress, (not that there's really much of a sensible story to progress through) just because I felt a particular hall of zombies needed to be obliterated. An absolutely huge sandbox game, not in square feet, but in content, everything in Dead Rising can be used as a weapon. Sure there are standard weapons like knives, lead pipes, chainsaws, etc., but not many other games let you pick up a bench to flail around in circles with. Melee is pretty much your only route in Dead Rising as the firearms are underpowered and nearly impossible to aim. Dead Rising 2 takes zombie decimation to another level and adds duct tape to your zombie survival kit. With the ability to combine certain weapons into super weapons, zombie killing gets creative. Spin around in circles with a paddle saw or make zombies look much more fashionable with a drill bucket helmet set on high. Dead Rising 2 also added co-op gameplay to the series allowing you to add a friend to your senseless zombie killing spree. If you feel like zombie killing is an unrecognized art than Dead Rising is the game for you.
The Left 4 Dead Series
Left 4 Dead is a beautifully simple game. The sequel added a few extra features but the original is not much more than a handful of weapon options, four maps, and a non-existent story. Left 4 Dead's resounding success stems from it's focus on replayability. The four independent campaigns take only about an hour to play, and are driven by gameplay instead of a storyline. Zombie spawning and item placement are controlled by a director AI that responds to the player's location and condition. Combine the director with the unpredictability of co-op gameplay, and Left 4 Dead creates a completely unique experience with each run through. Left 4 Dead 2 has been labeled by most as a glorified expansion pack, adding a few new weapons including melee options, some new specials zombies, and new characters. It may not be a huge overhaul, but if it's not broke then why fix it. Left 4 Dead is a great co-op experience that is guaranteed to generate memorable gaming moments amongst your group of friends.
The Resident Evil Series
The grandfather of zombie killing, Resident Evil is almost 15 years old. The latest addition to the series, Resident Evil 5, was the first Resident Evil game for the current generation of consoles. While graphics have received quite the facelift since the PS1, little has been changed as far as gameplay. In fact, just like the original, you have to stop moving to aim your a gun; something I was personally hoping could finally be changed, but alas still a great game. The Resident Evil storylines are insane and seldom really maintain any sort of logic. The frequent boss fights are over the top and memorable. Almost any Resident Evil game is a good investment, Resident Evil 5 was labeled too short compared the rest of games since it only took about six to eight hours to finish. Before you pick up a Resident Evil game I do suggest going over the storyline on Wikipedia first; no sense being more lost than you're already going to be.
World at War: Nazi Zombies
I'm going to be honest, I've never really played Call of Duty: World at War. I played some online multiplayer matches once with some friends and co-oped the first mission but that is it. Now that doesn't mean I don't own the game; I just find little reason not to load up Nazi Zombie mode every time I start the game. Just like Left 4 Dead, the game's addictive power stems from a co-op gameplay driven format. Start a round, kill all zombies trying to shamble through your windows, buy new stuff, and repeat. You're only reward seems to be the break from the chaos that is the later rounds when you finally die. For some reason the old WWII guns really give this game that extra edge. Killing zombies with an old Kar98k just takes that extra bit of skill that makes it all the more satisfying. Nazi Zombie fans everywhere are patiently awaiting the newest version of their favorite survival game that's going to be included in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Can you say zombie headshot with an explosives tipped arrow?
If Left 4 Dead, Nazi Zombies, Battlefield, and CounterStrike had some sort of weird love trapezoid and all had a baby together it would be Killing Floor. Survive round after round of different special mutated clones (zombies trust me) with your class-based squad, and buy guns from the store between rounds. After the final round you're treated to a face-to-face encounter with the Patriarch, the crazy mutated creator, who generally wrecks your entire team pretty hard. Killing Floor has created some of my greatest LAN party memories and single-handedly convinced me to get back into PC gaming. The developers paid a lot of attention to gun dynamics to create very realistic weapons, including a double barrel shotgun that knocks your character backwards when you fire both barrels. I suggest anyone with a Steam account pick up this game, drag some friends into a server, and enjoy.
Borderlands: Zombie Island of Dr. Ned Not a terribly long expansion, but if your already are aware of how great this gunplay-oriented, co-op game is than why not bring the undead into the fray.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare Pack Who didn't grow up playing cowboys and zombies. Just because it's not out yet doesn't mean that it doesn't prove every great game can be made better with zombies.
I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1 Pretty simplistic top-down, twin-stick shooter, although worth mentioning because I'd buy this $1 game for the unique background song alone.
Rock of the Dead An on-rails zombie shooter that uses Guitar Hero controllers as a weapon. Is the game good? The answer so far is a resounding no, but I'll still pay for a game featuring the voice acting of both Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day.
Plants vs Zombies Not really a zombie game in the traditional sense, but still a great zombie-themed time.