Zombies. Love them or hate them they have become one of the most common enemies used in video games. So much so that when another horror game is released and you’re once again fighting mindless undead, it’s hard to take it too seriously. But every once in a while a game is released that truly understands what makes the “Zombie Genre” so awesome, and reminds us why we love them.
With the recent release of The Last of Us, a game that truly gets it, we should take a look at a few zombie games and break down what they did right.
Left 4 Dead / Left 4 Dead 2
One of the many things that make the zombies in the Left 4 Dead games work is that you never know when they could appear. Except in a few rare cases, you always have to keep an eye open for them. You and your team could get through one of the toughest hordes in a campaign, and now you’re down to just a sliver of health. You let your guard down for five seconds to heal yourself, and your team gets ahead of you. Before you know it a hunter pounces on you and there’s absolutely nothing you can do. Now, forty-five seconds after you beat the horde, you’re dead.
There’s almost always the feeling in Left 4 Dead that you’re never truly safe, which makes teamwork very key in this zombie scenario. The zombies (Or infected if you want to be technically correct. But come on, they’re zombies) are super-fast, and the wide range of special infected mean there are many ways to die in this zombie apocalypse.
Dead Rising / Dead Rising 2
The first two Dead Rising games are zombie games that realize how ridiculous zombies truly are, and takes it super seriously. And it couldn’t be better for it. Dead Rising feels like the classic zombie scenario in almost every way, and embraces it. The first game even has the same setting as Romero’s classic movie Dawn of the Dead.
Something that Dead Rising gets about the “Zombie Genre” is that in dire situations, like a zombie invasion, it’s the people who you truly have to worry about. You’ll kill more zombies in these games than almost any other zombie game, but every single boss fight is a human who’s lost their mind. While the zombies in Dead Rising can get overwhelming, they’re never really terribly frightening, one of the reasons being that the psychopath bosses are way more terrifying in comparison. Dead Rising is a playable classic zombie movie.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us is easily one of the most well realized zombie games released in years. It’s hard to imagine an actual zombie scenario where they actually take down humanity. You know how to kill a zombie, just destroy the brain! But the zombies (Or infected. But seriously, they’re zombies) in The Last of Us are truly terrifying. While the normal zombies aren’t too terrifying, it’s the clickers you want to really watch out for.
Clickers are zombies that can’t see, but are way tougher than your average zombie. They’re way harder to kill than most of the zombies, and can kill you in one hit. Which brings us to another point: The Last of Us actually feels more like a stealth game than anything else. In almost every zombie scenario, you can avoid fighting them. Until you get toward the end of the game, you almost never have a ton of ammo. Since many of the zombies can take you down in one hit, and most of the others can take you down in a few hits, the zombies are truly scary.
That’s just a few of the games that really understand what makes a zombie game work. There are others, but most games with zombies don’t seem to embrace what’s really special about the undead. And seriously, can we all just stop calling them infected?