Zombies have shuffled into just about every form of entertainment, including films, television, books, and, of course, video games. What started off as a niche little subcategory of horror games has become a bustling genre all its own, and just like in any other genre, there are good games and there are bad ones. To help you sift through the vast collection of zombie games out there, here are five of the best. But be warned: only the bravest of souls will be able to stomach all the blood, gore, and terror.
A zombie game from the company that brought us Half-Life? That alone was enough to have many gamers foaming at the mouth to get their hands on Left 4 Dead. Throw in four player co-op, 28 Days Later-style infected, and an A.I. Director that makes each experience different from the last and you have a winning formula that few companies would be able to pull off right on their first try. Fortunately, Valve isn't your average video game company. Left 4 Dead blew our minds with its infinitely replayable multiplayer and the ton of support it and its sequel have received long after their release dates.
I can't tell you how many quarters I sank into House of the Dead at the arcade with friends; if I walked into an arcade, I would immediately start searching for the House of the Dead arcade cabinet. Before its name was sullied by the infamous Uwe Boll, this was the premier on-rails arcade game, featuring bloody, campy fun at its best. It took a few bad sequels for them to get it right again with Overkill on the Wii, but I'm pretty sure this series has some life left in it yet.
When you think of zombies in video games, what's one of the first games that comes to your mind? It'd have to be the biggest virtual zombie franchise ever: Resident Evil. Capcom's series had been enjoying plenty of success before this game came out and changed everything; the previous game, Code Veronica, is widely considered to be one of the best games in the series. Despite that fact, Capcom took a gamble and changed practically everything fans knew and loved about the series, including the controls, static camera, ammo conservation, and classic, Romero zombies. In their place was a new over-the-shoulder camera, a focus on action over horror, and a new type of enemy, Los Ganados. Still zombie-like in nature, these guys were faster and more intelligent, and that made them even more terrifying. Luckily, the gamble paid off and Resident Evil 4 became one of those rare games that defined an entire generation.
Sure, Necromorphs aren't necessarily zombies, but the term "zombie" has evolved so much it's difficult to pin down exactly what a zombie is these days. If they have to be dead, then Left 4 Dead's Infected aren't really zombies. If they have to want to eat you flesh, then neither are Resident Evil 4's Ganados. For the sake of argument, we'll just say that if you die and get reanimated or are infected with something nasty that takes control of your body and makes you do naughty things, then you can be considered for this list.
Back in 2008, Dead Space introduced us to Necromorphs and an exciting new term: "Strategic Dismemberment." The Necromorphs were the reanimated, twisted creations of the Marker, and the aforementioned "Strategic Dismemberment" was your only defense against them. Until this January, I thought Dead Space was the best horror game I had played this console generation, but then its sequel came out and blew my mind. Few sequels manage the impressive feat of improving over their predecessor in virtually every way, but that's exactly what Dead Space 2 did. With recent rumblings of an icy new setting for Dead Space 3, I'm incredibly excited about where this series is headed.
Resident Evil 4 is an amazing game and all, but I'd be remiss not to include the game that started it all. Just as Wolfenstein 3D brought first-person shooters into the spotlight and Gran Turismo took the racing genre to a whole new level, Capcom's Resident Evil did the same thing for the zombie genre. Outside of being one of the scariest games of its time, thanks to a feeling of helplessness caused by little ammunition, static cameras that you couldn't control, and the feeling that there is definitely something waiting for you behind that next corner, Resident Evil also coined the term "Survival Horror." Even though recent games have strayed from the series' horror roots, the original game will always hold a special place in our hearts. And our nightmares.
By Adam Dodd
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*