These aren't just good zombie games or games that will hold you over during those Darryl Dixon-free lulls
The Walking Dead resurrects in less than a week, and I’m sure there are more than a few people out there who are looking forward to the return of all that zombie mayhem. Best Zombie Games I also happen to be equally sure that – within that group of people – a few of them were roped into playing the wretchedly Godawful Walking Dead: Survival Instinct video game, as a means of holding over their lust for zombie killin’ while the show was on its hiatus.
Best Zombie Games can ruin a boy’s day, but a good zombie game… well, that can make a boy into a man. Or at the very least it can keep them mildly entertained. Few things are more fun than the mass indiscriminate killing and scramble for survival that a zombie game can bring – it’s the reason why these games sell so damn much, after all.
In celebration of not only the return of The Walking Dead, but our undying obsession with all things undead, I present to you the 5 greatest zombie games of all-time. These aren’t just good zombie games or games that will hold you over during those Darryl Dixon-free lulls – these are the games that define the conventions of modern zombie fanfare. And they all happen to be pretty fun, too.
Best Zombie Games kept one simple rule in mind when writing this list: only one game per franchise can appear. I figured if I didn’t do that we’d pretty much have a list of the top 5 Resident Evil games.
5. Zombies Ate My Neighbours
Zombies At my Neighbours isn’t just a zombie game – it’s a glorious ode to horror cinema, from the camp and ridiculousness of the 1950s B-movie to 80s slashers like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The game – which was released in 1993 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis – allow players to take control of Zeke and his sister Julie through 55 stages of monster mayhem. Along the way you’ll fight everything from vampires and werewolves to giant demonic babies and evil dolls. And zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.
The joy of Zombies Ate my Neighbours isn’t in its mechanics, because it’s a simple top down shooter in the same vein as Alien Syndrome or the ungodly-atrocious Uncanny X-Men for NES. No, the fun of this game comes from its campy humour and the surprising immerse nature of its gameplay. An early foray into survival horror, Zombies Ate my Neighbours actually requires some restraint and tactical consideration in order to progress, which is surprising because this is a game where you can actually kill a demon with a water balloon.
4. Dead Space 2 Zombie games
Harking back to Ridley Scott’s genre defining Alien, the Dead Space series has taken survival horror to the uncharted territories of space and has – rather surprisingly – offered up some of the best zombie-games in years. In Dead Space 2 – the finest moment in Visceral Games’ intergalactic horror series – players are taken through a terrifying odyssey of madness and terror as they have to unravel the mystery behind the origins of the undead necromorphs.
While the original Dead Space is a great zombie game in and of itself, and the recent Dead Space 3 amps up the action and offers players a great multiplayer experience, Dead Space 2 stands out as the series’ best as it offered players a honestly terrifying experience that is steeped in satisfying storytelling. The tone and frantic pace of Dead Space 2 is enough to keep even the bravest of players on the edge of their seat.
A huge leap forward from its predecessor, without becoming lost from the plot like its successor, Dead Space 2 is a surprisingly good sci-fi horror romp, and will likely have you understanding what that Alien poster meant when it said: “In space no one can hear you scream.”
3. Dead Rising 2 Zombie games
Capcom’s Dead Rising had two things going for it that no other zombie game had: the ability to use anything you could get your hands on as a weapon to cut through countless swaths of the undead, and Frank f*king West. While its follow-up sadly lacked the badassery of the world’s most beloved zombie-killing photo-journalist, Dead Rising 2 was a huge leap forward in every (other) possible way.
Taking control of the less-interesting extreme motocross champ Chuck Green, players have to survive a zombie breakout in Las Vegas doppelganger Fortune City, while also saving survivors, keeping Chuck’s daughter safe and unravelling the mystery of the outbreak. Fans of the original Dead Rising will enjoy Dead Rising 2′s drastic improvements of in-game mechanics and A.I., but what really sets Dead Rising 2 apart from its predecessor is the ability to manufacture custom weapons by combining objects together.
So instead of just smashing in zombie heads with a bat, why not take them out with a canoe paddle adorned with chainsaws on either end? Stuck with a flashlight and some gems? Well, you can combine them to create a god damn lightsaber! And yes, kids, you can even make Wolverine claws out of boxing gloves and knives!
With dozens of weapon-combinations ranging from explosive chunks of meat to a giant machine gun wielding teddy bear, and the ability to take on up to 7,000 zombies on screen at once, Dead Rising 2 has more over-the-top, cartoonish zombie killing mayhem than any other zombie game in existence. And while its simplistic hack and slash approach may lack the depth of something like the Resident Evil games, it is no less satisfying and is actually a lot more fun.
And just in case the lack of Frank West turns you off, Capcom released a re-imagined version of Dead Rising 2 called Dead Rising: Off the Record – a sort of “What If?: scenario that places Frank West in Chuck Green’s shoes as the man to unravel the mystery behind the Fortune City outbreak. In other words: it’s Heaven.
2. The Last of Us Zombie games
Released this past summer, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us may just be the last truly great release of this generation of gaming. And arguably it is one of the best overall games ever made, as well.
Like The Walking Dead, The Last of Us sees a vision of a world taken over by a zombie plague come to life, and illustrates not only the horror of the apocalypse but the fall of man in its wake. Taking control of a hardened smuggler named Joel, in The Last of Us you are forced to traverse an America that has fallen apart in order to guide a young girl named Ellie to a destination I don’t even want to remotely ruin in this summary. Along the way, you’re forced to survive an onslaught of the infected – the name of choice for the game’s legion of undead- as well as other human survivors (who are willing to do anything to stay alive, by the way).
From a mechanics standpoint, The Last of Us is an intuitive triumph, but what really makes this game a step above the rest is its immersive nature. To play this game is to dive into it, and by the end there’s no way you will not be attached to its characters or the choices they are forced to make along the way. Yes, it offers graphic zombie action, and, yes, it provides a fun challenge. But the true beauty of The Last of Us is its cinematic quality, and its tense and often heartbreaking tone.
1. Resident Evil: The Remake Zombie games
C’mon: it was obviously going to be a Resident Evil game – but did you think it would be this one? The Resident Evil series is without a doubt the seminal series of survival horror, and the first 3 games arguably all have a claim to the top spot on this list. But while the original Resident Evil trilogy may have established the franchise as the best zombie series in gaming, it wasn’t until 2002 that Capcom perfected the art.
The remake of the original Resident Evil was released as a Nintendo GameCube exclusive in 2002 (later ported to the Wii in 2009) and unlike the versions of Resident Evil 2 and 3 that were released for the console, the remake was a bottom up re-imagining of the original survival horror classic. Taking the original plot and characters and amping it all up with state of the art graphics, Capcom boasted that it was 70% different than the original. And they were right.
Trading in the horrid dialogue, dated graphics and wonky tone of the original, the Resident Evil remake proved to be a truly frightening experience that took everything great about Resident Evil and modernised it for the 21st century. Despite over a decade passing since its release, the remake still holds up today and is streets ahead of any of the series’ releases for this current console generation.
There are no unrealistically giant monsters in this game, nor any set pieces involving futuristic weapons or the invasion of sovereign states. In Resident Evil, there are merely zombies, the shadows, the occasional mutated creature, and a very limited amount of bullets. Survival is difficult as it relies on conserving everything from health to ammo to those ink cartridges which are the keys to salvation, and remembering that just because you shot a zombie down doesn’t mean it’s really dead.
From the sublime camera angles to the truly frightening colour palette, this is a game steeped in classic sensibilities and harks back to an era before the excess that defines gaming today – yet is modern enough graphically to still be taken seriously. If you haven’t had the chance to play through the remake then you don’t know zombie gaming – this game is so good it actually offers up a compelling reason to buy a GameCube off eBay just so you can experience it (alongside the equally amazing GameCube exclusive remake of Metal Gear Solid – bit of a strange niche the GameCube carved out for itself there, huh?).
Before Wesker dressed like Blade, Jill went blonde and Chris was the size of Triple H, they were just three cops trapped in a mansion trying to survive what hid around the corner. And really, Resident Evil proved that’s all you really needed for a good zombie game.
Do you think the Resident Evil remake is the best of the bunch? Are you angry hat I didn’t include Left 4 Dead? Have your say below and tell us what you think.