Undead Invade Industry Undetected

7748_dead-rising01The zombies are coming! The zombies are coming! Err wait, they’re already here…and no one seems to mind. Awesome.

At least this is the only logical conclusion I can come to. In the last year the game industry has been literally overrun with zombie games, ranging from gory to silly to thought provoking. Don’t believe me? Well then Mr. Skeptic, here is a partial list I came up with off the top of my head after staring at my computer screen for ten minutes.

1. Teenage Zombies: A tongue in cheek DS title that slipped under the radar last April.

2. Left 4 Dead: One of the top Games of the Year. Easily spotted.

3. Resident Evil 5: Zombies go on safari.

4. House of the Dead: Overkill: Wii exclusive prequel to the original title.

5. Zombie Infection: Even your cell phone isn’t safe. Contest for tickets to Comic Con make this flash game even more dangerous.

6. Call of Duty: World At War: Nazis? Zombies? NAZI ZOMBIES?! We can’t kill these things fast enough.

7. Dead Rising: Chop til You Drop: Wii exclusive. Self-explanatory title.

8. Fallout 3: I’m counting the Ghouls here. They’re zombies by another name.

9. Dead Space: Creepy mutated space zombies still count.

10. Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers: Yes, this is real. No, I’m not kidding. Also available on 360!

11. Little Red Riding Hood’s Zombie BBQ: Contra style Gameplay + fairy tales + zombies = bizarrely entertaining DS title.

The two iffiest in that list, as my husband so kindly pointed out, are Dead Space and Fallout 3 since technically neither are classic zombies. But neither species in either game is living or not actively decaying, so I’m counting them. Take that as you will.

The question then becomes why the sudden glut of zombie killing goodness? After all, the oldest title on my list isn’t even a year old. Sure, there were zombies around before that, but mostly in rail shooters in the arcade or in the staple Resident Evil series. So what happened? Oh, lots of things. Some have suggested our renewed love of zombies stems from the repetitive mindlessness of modern living, such as Shagtee’s opinion . Interesting read there, by the way.

I think the release of Shaun of the Dead in theaters and Dead Rising on the 360 brought a sharper spotlight to the shambling undead. After all, people may feel some remorse killing another human…be it mobster, Nazi or random ninja #78, but killing the undead not only feels good, it feels damn good! But what kind of undead can mere humans kill like so many lemmings? Certainly not vampires, as proven by the ill-fated Vampire Rain for the Xbox 360. Even Alucard and the other, ever-expanding cast of Castlevania can’t keep a good vampire down.

Enter the zombie. The red shirt army of the fantasy world. He doesn’t ask for much. Just a road to shamble down, a brain to eat and maybe a shadow to lurk in. With most games needing a fall guy for the hero to mow down, the undead are a masterpiece of ‘false difficulty’. They might all have one hit point, but there’s two hundred of them. Now what, Mr. Only-has-three-rounds-left? Mwa-ha-ha-ha.

Ahem. Sorry about that. So whether it’s our own masochistic need to destroy a strawman of modern living, our need to satiate our bloodlust without remorse or the visceral thrill of fear at the thought of being eaten alive, the game industry has found that nerve and is going to poke it for all it’s worth. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Braaaaiiiinnnssss.

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