Zombie Nation

Am I the only one who isn’t getting zombie fever nowadays? Left 4 Dead is about as enthused as I’ll voluntarily get about the concept of shooting the undead repeatedly with a shotgun. It’s not so much that it’s become boring: it’s just not actually that interesting to begin with.

Fast zombies, slow zombies, red zombies, big zombies, tank zombies, sentient zombies… the list goes on forever, and it’s a matter of time before people are running out of ideas. Even the "non-zombie" introduced via Valve’s new team shooter and 28 Days Later are unoriginal, attempting to inject some life and excitement into something that, ultimately, makes me want to put down the controller and go for a walk. For a games journalist, that’s saying something.

Racoon City should get a better tourist department. Do you know what a huge market there’d be for a place like that with hunting enthusiasts? Not to mention ex-military? So why is it that the only people who ever seem to turn up in these places are complete idiots? Even the cops and army (all male, take note) are clueless. That’s right, Chris Redfield, there are trained gun experts who can run and shoot at the same time.

I’m not even going to touch the racism issue in Resident Evil 5, as honestly that horse is so flogged he’s got his own whip product line. But when you’re going to make angry dead people, couldn’t you for once make them angry at everyone, and not just "anyone who isn’t the blatantly still-alive bloke standing there shepherding us towards the unarmed girl until her friend shoots him in the head"?

Valve did the zombie thing correctly. If you want to create zombies, make them fast, seriously angry, not actually dead — finally explaining the "What? They’re dead, but I have to kill them?" conundrum — and most vitally of all, have no purpose other than to slaughter you into next week, eat you, then slaughter your mates. Their more powerful versions are also only interested in killing you. There’s no higher motive, no evil monster, dark magic or — no, wait, there is a generic undead-making virus. Damn. Tripped up by my own optimism.

The one aspect of the title I really did like, however re-used it was, was that you could kill zombies all day in the big city, but you could also have them chase you through fields, hospitals and other areas. This was what made 28 Days Later so terrifying: undead hordes that were literally all over the country. It truly reinforced that feeling of an epidemic, and made you a lot keener to start your astronautically-centred career dream a little earlier than planned.

I have no desire to play RE5. It looks great, it plays well. But between generic undead, boring locales, and a chauvinist designing the unlockable costumes for Redfield’s female counterpart, it’s warned me off dropping upwards of forty of Her Majesty’s gold on the title.

Don’t even get me started on how "great" the Wii port of House of the Dead is supposed to be. Go to an arcade and do it properly; that controller looks like John Wayne’s Wii Remote.

For that matter, has anyone wondered what subtext is being suggested to us in the fact "herbs" seem to constantly help the population of the Resident Evil franchise to survive? Hmmm.


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Author: Christos Reid View all posts by

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