Top 5 Zombie Games

There’s no shortage for internet opinions about video games with zombies in them. Almost every major video-game blog, or zombie blog (Webster’s: a blog written by zombies), has one or another version of the "Best Zombie Games of ALL TIME". So when I and my illustrious co-author Mark write this top five, we are under no illusions that we are at all the first to do so.

But we are clearly the best.

So what makes a good, or the best, zombie game? What is it that gamers want to see in a, for example, ramshackle, deserted western town, or perhaps a ramshackle, deserted mini-mall? The key component, if it needs to even be said, is the zombies. They way they act, walk, run, attack, eat flesh, and especially die. Which brings up another key component: how does the player kill the zombies, assuming he/she doesn’t either befriend them, learn to speak their language, or simply let themselves get infected in a moment of hopelessness? From chainsaws to frying pans to explosive cars to the actual controller itself, the method is just as important as the madness. But don’t forget that the environment the zombies occupy (and ultimately cover with their limbs, torsos, and ears) creates the entire feel for the game, providing suspense with sharp corners and shadows, or intensity with narrow hallways and blood-streaked antique mirrors. These, along with all the other typically important elements of the gaming experience, are what every zombie game’s brutal awesomeness hinges on, and are why these are our Top 5 Takedown for the best zombie-focused video games.


5. Dead Space (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)


Dead Space 

My main concern with throwing this game onto a zombie top five is simply that the zombies in this game are debatably just aliens. Personally, I’d say they’re zombies, because there’s that flying-bat necromorph that reanimates the dead bodies into other necromorphs that attack you. Whatever your beliefs on the definition of zombie, Dead Space undoubtedly remains one of my favorite suspense/horror games of all time, in large part due to atmosphere. It’s easy to believe that the U.S.G. Ishimura was an intergalactic utopia once upon a time, with the hints of modern convenience, advanced medical technology, and huge livable areas complete with fauna, recreational facilities, and zero-g basketball. But all that has been twisted so beautifully by the environment programmers at Visceral Games that when it combines with the terrifying loneliness of a virtually empty resort-sized spacecraft and the bloody traces of what went wrong on Aegis VII, you can’t help but be impressed by the immersion that the game offers. The actual zombies, the necromorphs, owe a lot of their effectiveness at creeping and spooking to the environment and timing, which the game absolutely nails. If you are looking for a stressful, haunting game that will keep you coming back punch after bloody, dismembering baby necromorph punch, look no further than the joyful jaunt through the dimmed-out halls of the Ishimura.


4. Dead Rising (Xbox 360)


Dead Rising

First of all, Dead Rising is a sandbox game set in a mall (Dawn of the Dead anyone?) which means you have free reign to visit all kinds of stores and even ride a rollercoaster. With this BA backdrop it is no surprise that the game delivers mightily on the zombie-killing front. There isn’t another game that offers the player so many different means of making the undead re-dead. You’re free to pick up any items you find in said mall, and use them to bash, shoot, slice, flambé, or eviscerate your horde of enemies. You’ll be slicing up zombies with your katana as well as booting soccer balls off their bloody faces and yelling, "Gooooooaaaaal!" All of this alone would probably be enough to earn Dead Rising a spot in the Takedown, but on top of all this it offers a decent story. And the best part is that you, the player, choose your own involvement in the story. If all you want to do is just kill zombies (and survivors for that matter), you can! If you want to uncover the shady secrets behind the zombie infestation, you can! You could say Dead Rising is pro choice… You know what I mean.


3. Left 4 Dead (PC, Xbox 360)


Left 4 Dead

Leave it to Valve to take a simple concept and turn it into an amazing game. They did it once before with Portal, and now with Left 4 Dead. The game design is simple. In four isolated campaigns, your group of four survivors runs from safe house to safe house, trying not to get overrun by a horde of zombies or incapacitated by one of the super zombies. After this you have to hold out at a finale location until a vehicle comes and rescues you. What makes the game great is its sheer intensity. I personally don’t yell in any other situation (even watching Die Hard) more than when I play Left 4 Dead. There’s no more dreadful feeling than getting vomited on by a Boomer and knowing that the horde is coming for you, or accidently bumping into the witch and having to run for dear life as your companions unload round after round. The game also has couch and online co-op, which provides the backdrop for hours more of zombie-riffic game time. When you get pinned by a hunter or knocked down by the Tank, it’s great to have a friend by your side to punt him off of you or help you up, or just to say, "Sucks, bro." And finally, as a bonus you can play online versus matches where one team is the survivors and the other gets to be super zombies and try to pin, constrict, vomit on, etc. the survivors. The only thing holding the game back is its length. You can make your way through the four campaigns in the span of a few hours. With that being said however, Left 4 Dead has a ton of replay value, and I know I can’t wait until Left 4 Dead 2 hits stores later this year.


2. Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube, PS2, Wii)


Resident Evil 4 

Some gamers tout this game as the absolute best of its time, and with good reason. Capcom achieved the best and arguably the freakiest in their series with a revamped graphics engine, revamped shooting mechanics, revamped zombies, revamped everything. The story stayed on par with other Resident Evil games, bringing back past characters and inevitably tying some run-down village to a huge Umbrella Corporation industrial zone. But every other aspect of Resident Evil 4 was new, and it rocks. Granted, I got bored real quick with dragging around the president’s daughter, who, like many helpless supporting characters, is pretty much dead weight. But the boss battles are incredible, especially as they are mixed with the active cutscene sequences, and the amount of customization that you get as Leon as he builds his arsenal of weaponry is more like an RPG than a shooter. And no other game has made me fear the Spanish language so much. I hear phrases in the night like "ROMPE LA PILASOS!" which roughly translates to "BREAK THE BATTERIES!" The horror… (Editor’s note: "Voy a romper te pedazos!" translates to "I am going to break you pieces!")


1. House of the Dead 2 (Arcade)


Now you may be surprised that this is the number one zombie game of all time, perhaps because the House of the Dead series isn’t known for complexity of gameplay, story elements, or overall game experience. But I think that a game that does the basics of a zombie game superbly doesn’t need anything else. First of all, note that I picked the arcade version, because there’s nothing like going to the movies, seeing this game outside the theater, next to the concession stand, and dropping your hard-earned change for maybe ten minutes of serious light-gun action. The zombies in this game represent, for the most part, your standard zombies, popping out of nowhere and swiping aimlessly towards you, and the boss battles, the irregular zombies, are just plain awesome, though still fairly simple. ‘The giant blue demon zombie lunges towards you. Quick, shoot his head! Oh, good, he recoiled. Keep shooting.’ But there is something that’s just unbelievably enjoyable about wasting zombies with the light gun, and seeing them explode in a torrent of arcade glory. And with the multiple paths offered through the four stages, this game will have you returning to a theater near you many times.


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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

One Comment on "Top 5 Zombie Games"

  1. ZombieGamer47 July 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm -

    Nice zombie game list. Dead Space & Left4Dead are great. But I think you should also add Zombie Pandemic , it has deep gameplays and exciting missions.

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