[Sorry for the lack of images - with the new redesign I've become a C-blog noob once again! I have "upload photos" but clicking it doesn't work. Is it disabled right now or can anyone help me out? Thanks!]
Hey Destructoid! It's been a little while since I posted here. I like what you've done with the place, the new design's pretty nice.
Before, all my features went here on the C-Blogs, but recently I've been hired on GamerSyndrome, and the majority of features and reviews are now posted there. Thankfully, my boss is awesome, and gave me permission to post articles on my blog a few weeks after the original's been posted.
Honestly, I'm not here to advertise myself. I wouldn't ask anyone to go elsewhere to read my content when Destructoid has an awesome news/features team and bloggers right here - that's the whole reason you're here! I only want to post these because I really value the community's feedback and I miss the discussions had here.
If anyone does want to check out my newest feature/review though, that's real nice of you! It'll be updated in the bio every so often. I'll continue to post my more personal stories/opinions here too (I have something I want to share "exclusively" next week in fact), but between my day job and journalism right now its hard to say how often, which is another reason why I want to post what I can here.
Anyways, on with the zombies.
Top 5 Most Innovative Zombie Games
Zombie-themed games are becoming tiresome in many eyes of gamers, with a collective undead groan at any announcement of a new zombie game. Sure, there’s more zombie twinstick games than there are undead walkers in Dead Rising, but I find this attitude funny considering how different most zombie games can be. From Dead Island’s gritty, overrun tropical locales to Lollipop Chainsaw’s delightfully insane blend of blood and rainbows, these beasts stand alone rather than group together in a generic pack.
Earlier this year we had Amy which, even 8 months later is still a contender for worst game of the year. The most tragic thing about this – aside from the appalling disaster that comprises the game itself – is that it had great potential with its own interesting spin on survival-horror games. A woman is infected and must stay within the vicinity of a young girl in order to prevent herself from becoming a zombie – the further and longer you spend away from the girl the more the infection spreads. Sadly, because Amy was so bad it’s likely that we won’t see this idea explored again.
While we all wait for the excellent-looking upcoming ZombiU, I present to you the following list. Unlike Amy, this list comprises five games that got it right; not only are they fun to play, they also tried something new and setnew standards for games that feature our brain-eating buddies. To clarify, this isn’t a list of the “best” or “scariest” zombie games – these are ranked simply based on how much innovation they brought to the table. These are the ones that truly stand out in the horde – rising like a Tank in No Mercy hospital or the Nemesis in Raccoon City.
5: House of the Dead
Platform(s): Arcade, Sega Saturn, PC
Back in the ‘90s, arcades were undoubtedly in their prime. The original House of the Dead shambled its way into arcades in 1997, and though just one year prior Resident Evil beat it to the punch of becoming one of the first great zombie games in the 3D generation, HotD was inspirational in its own right. It stood out from the other light-gun machines on display and put a gun directly in the players hands, rather than a controller. Speaking of Resident Evil, it’s no doubt thanks to House of the Dead that Capcom was inspired to make their own light-gun spin-offs.
It built upon the classic light-gun formula, established by predecessors Time Crisis and Virtua Cop, by offering outstanding visuals for its time, plenty of gore and branching paths that the player can take depending on their actions and decisions. Though the game was on-rails, this gave the player a greater level of interaction never before seen in arcades.
With the ever-rising popularity of home consoles and PC gaming, that old feeling of emptying your pennies into a relentless but addictive arcade machine has declined. House of the Dead lives on, however, shambling to our consoles still to this day with Wii’s and PS3’s excellent title Overkill.
Just try to forget the fact that the movie adaptation is Uwe Boll’s game-to-film debut and is considered one of the worst films of all time. That’s not important. What is important is that we get an Overkill sequel as soon as possible!
4: Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Platform(s): SNES, Genesis, Virtual Console
This game is a very under-rated gem on the SNES and Genesis. While co-op gameplay had of course been done before, it’s how Zombies Ate My Neighbors implemented it into the game. You and your buddy had to work together to survive, yet also compete against each other as scores and resources weren’t shared. Your partner may have your back this time, but who’s to say they aren’t plotting to rescue all the neighbours and claim all the bonuses themselves? You’ll constantly help each other out of a tight spot, but fight and race each other to grab the better weapon. You’ll congratulate each other on making it through a tough level, but seconds later boast when the total score screen is in your favour.
There just aren’t enough co-op games that implement that competitive edge – there’s the Four Swords series, but even comparing the two brings many differences. Also, tell me how many games you know with UFOs, giant ants, AND a gigantic baby boss.
3: Left 4 Dead
Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360
As with the previous entry, Left 4 Dead emphasises co-op. But instead of light-hearted bickering and fun, you will literally depend on your comrades. See, co-operation in Left 4 Dead isn’t optional, or a nice addition – even in single-player you’re never alone, because you simply wouldn’t last five minutes. That said, it is highly recommended that you play the game with friends or gamers online to really get the most fun out of the game.
Each level you face will have you killing hundreds of flesh-cravers – and you’re just one soldier out of a quad-team, your three partners also killing similar amounts while watching your back. Even with four survivors it can be easy to be overpowered without the right co-ordination, which makes Left 4 Dead’s horde the most threatening. And the zombies aren’t even the real problem; the “Special Infected” are evolved mutations, and all it takes is one pounce from a Hunter or binding of a Smoker’s tongue to leave you potentially done for. If you’ve faltered from the group or felt it was a good strategy to run away, distancing yourself from your only source of help, you have no choice but to be killed.
Similarly, if you don’t save your partner in time before they meet their demise, you’ve just increased your ever-looming death by 25%. You must use ammo wisely and explosives even more selectively if you want to survive. With its demanding emphasis on communication, requirement of strategy and “oh sh*t” moments when a Tank comes to screw you all over, L4D is perhaps one of the most phenomenal multiplayer games I’ve played.
2: Plants Vs. Zombies
Platform(s): PC, XBLA, PSN, DS, iOS, Android, PS Vita
Publisher: Pop Cap
RTS and tower defence games. Both very taxing types of games that require a strategic mind from a dedicated gamer. And yet Pop Cap hybridised these genres to not only make one of the most addictive games of the decade, but make it accessible to everyone. You won’t catch your little brother investing hours into Defense Grid, or your Grandmother firing on all fronts in Starcraft, but you’ll find that everyone in your family is infected with the Plants Vs. Zombies virus.
Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defence game, whereby the object therein is to defend your house against a hungry horde of zombies by using the garden as your defensive ground. By planting various seeds in strategic locations, you can produce plants with different abilities to fight off the undead.
The garden has an invisible grid of 5 or 6 rows on which you can place your plants. If the zombies overpower your plants and one reaches your house, its game over. While the concept may appear simple and easy, the game is merely easing you into an easy-to-play yet hard-to-master level of complexity. The depth of the game stems (pun intended) from the large variety of both plants and zombies.
Hosting addictive gameplay, endless replayability, unlockable rewards, various game modes, excellent sound and unique art design, PvZ is one of those rare games with deep and engaging gameplay that can be appreciated and enjoyed by anyone.
1: Resident Evil (Remake)
Platform(s): Nintendo GameCube
The Resident Evil series has offered so much to the survival-horror genre that many of the franchise’s games could have spread across this list like the T-Virus. RE1 stands as arguably the birth survival-horror games itself, and RE4 revolutionised how we play third-person horror shooters. But for the sake of fairness I will begrudgingly list only one game in the series, one that isn’t talked about as much as it should be and yet deserves a place in the list as much as any other RE game: the GameCube remake.
Did you ever play Resident Evil Remake? There is a good chance you haven’t – the fact it was a GameCube exclusive is enough to enforce that prediction. I absolutely love the original, its charm, camp voice acting and timeless quotes make for a phenomenal start to the series, but this reboot is better than I could have imagined. And though even the “Jill-sandwich” line is now gone, this moodier take on the original is, at least what I feel, what Capcom wanted the series to be all along.
There are many new advances here that this instalment offers: defence weapons, new bosses, ground-breaking graphics and sound design… zombies and other monsters can even break down doors this time, a shock to any fan of the classic games as going through a door often meant you were safe from whatever was out to get you in a previous room. But there’s one inclusion, one defining factor that makes Remake a pure genius horror experience: Crimson Heads.
Simply killing a zombie in Remake can have dire consequences. Naturally, the extremely limited ammunition is a factor – any rounds that are wasted on them are rounds that won’t later save your life in times of danger. But it goes beyond that. If you kill a zombie, they will later reincarnate as the terrifying Crimson Heads. Not only does this mean more ammo goes to waste, but these evolved versions are faster and more vicious than ever before.
Because of the danger that these creatures presented, I spent a lot of the time staring at the map, as unlike recent games, this was an essential tool. I couldn’t simply run to my destination, as that kind of thinking would get me killed. Taking to account my current health, ammunition and empty inventory slots, I would plan which route would be best. I’d consider all the different paths to take, sometimes noting down what dangers lie in each room and weighing up the advantages of each route.
And when you think you have the perfect plan, an impenetrable strategy in the path you have chosen, something new will come along when you least expect it. You’ll run through the same empty corridor dozens of times with nothing happening, but then this time ten zombies will smash and slide through the windows making that once safe path an extremely hazardous route. And you’ll be stuck in the middle of it, unprepared for this new fiasco that’s torn a hole in your plan. And if you’re enough of a pansy like I was, you’ll restart the GameCube with deep breaths, and start planning all over again.
This depth of strategy and these shake-ups that constantly threaten your survival, testing your instincts in a new unexpected situation, make for perhaps the purest survival-horror game I’ve ever played. Resident Evil wasn’t always about punching boulders and teleporting psychopaths, you know.
Original article from Gamersyndrome.com