Love them or hate them, zombie games are here to stay and, if anything, look to be becoming more and more plentiful as the years roll by. Since it is the month of Halloween, I decided that it would be a great time to make a new top five list of what I feel are the best zombie games out there. If you need a zombie fixing, then these may be five very good suggestions!
A true classic from the 16 bit era. Before survival horror games were really mainstream, we had games like Zombies Ate My Neighbors, and they served as the “scary zombie games” for the mainstream gamers. Zombies Ate My Neighbors was perhaps the most notable zombie game at the time. It was an overhead action platformer game that also contained many puzzle elements. What made the game so great was the variety of fantastic enemies throughout the game’s levels. In the hedge maze levels, players would be chased by chainsaw maniacs, and in the mall levels it was not uncommon to see display items come to life and try to murder the players. Of course, none of these enemies could compare to the classic zombie foes that would hound the players continuously, and they always felt like a real threat when attacking in numbers. Making this game even better was the cheesy soundtrack that sounded as if it was ripped straight from old black and white campy horror films. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Teamwork. There is perhaps no other game to ever be released that comes even remotely close to making teamwork so important as Left 4 Dead 2. Four survivors and thousands of zombies. If even one survivor were to screw something up, the effects could be costly and, in some instances, disastrous. While fast zombies are not really my cup of tea (I prefer it when the undead shambles towards me), they are used very well in this game and are great at invoking a true sense of desperation and panic. While the zombies aren’t really terribly frightening or scary, the thought of something bad happening to your fellow survivors certainly is. Left 4 Dead does what many games cannot do, and that’s making you really care about the safety of the people with you. They’re not just “friends playing with you.” No, they are fellow survivors of a true zombie apocalypse. Left 4 Dead 2 may be the epitome of cooperative online play.
There’s a good reason why this innocent looking game became PopCap’s most successful game of all time. As they had done with previous puzzle sub-genres in the past, PopCap took the whole “tower defense genre” and perfected it, really making it their own. The premise of this game alone is enough to get your attention. What, zombies are crossing your lawn and you have to stop them using sunflowers and walnuts?! It’s certainly enough to turn the heads of most people. As is expected with every PopCap game, the gameplay is remarkably solid and the zombies are very amusing and often quite silly. The fact that many people have clocked dozens of hours into what is supposedly a simple tower defense game says quite a lot about this fun little package. Cute graphics and a silly presentation does not stop this from towering over many of the more “serious” zombie games on the market.
This little Capcom gem can brag about being the best zombie game available at doing one specific thing, and that is making you feel like you truly are in a zombie apocalypse. Dead Rising 2 is able to show more zombies on your screen at any single moment than any other zombie game on the market is able to do. Just seeing a few dozen zombies is considered a “small sighting” in Dead Rising 2, as it is not uncommon to quite literally be able to see well over a hundred zombies at once. If Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil had the ability to pull this off, they could easily be among the scariest games of all time, and not due to any lame cheap scares. Having so many zombies visible at any given time really helps the immersion of Dead Rising 2. Despite the fact that almost anything can be picked up and used as a weapon, the zombies in Dead Rising 2 exist in such high numbers that it’s not unusual to feel panicked by them and unsure of what to use against them when unarmed. Without a doubt, Dead Rising 2 is the best video game adaptation of a zombie apocalypse that you can find.
While the original Resident Evil had a lot of charm and is fondly remembered by many, a lot of people remember it for the wrong reasons (Jill Sandwich, etc.) so it’s not unusual for me to place Resident Evil 2 here instead of the original. Resident Evil 2 fixed many annoyances from the first game. Combat felt better, the graphics were stunning at the time, and the voice acting was certainly better. There were also some very awesome cheap scares in Resident Evil 2. The one I will always remember most is the licker smashing through the two way mirror. The biggest advantage that Resident Evil 2 had over the original was that it was set in an entire city. In the original, just getting out of the mansion would let you escape the terrors within. We all know that escaping from a mansion is a hell of a lot easier than getting out of a zombie infested city, though! While the first Resident Evil was the true grandfather pioneer of modern day survival horror games, Resident Evil 2 perfected the formula and remains a gripping game even to this day.