Not Another … of the Dead

Not Another ... of the Dead

Zombies are the 20th Century equivalent to Dracula or the Werewolf; fictional horrors that through relentless pop-cultural propagation have ascended to a plane of pseudo-fact. Their appearance, behaviour and method of defeat are so painstakingly ingrained in our (tasty) brains, that sometimes you have to remind yourself that the undead aren’t real.

I mean everyone, except Danny Boyle, knows that these shambling, complexionless monsters are only out there to gorge on human flesh and feast on our grey matter. It only takes one bite for you to transform, but sometimes they’ll tear out your organs and play Zombie bagpipes with your lungs. You’ve got to “remove the head or destroy the brain” – shotgun inflicted head-shots are best, but if you can lop off their think-kettle with a rusty machete you’ll be just fine.

Maybe hell is full and the dead are walking the earth, maybe it’s a viral infection or the aftermath of a nuclear bomb or even a voodoo curse. Whatever the cause, the symptoms are the same. That pending country-wide influx of Swine-Flu vaccinations? Zombie onslaught waiting to happen.

You can stop writing your angry “they’re infected, not zombies you dolt” comments, emails and notes-attached-to-bricks, now. I know.
You can stop writing your angry “they’re infected, not zombies you dolt” comments, emails and notes-attached-to-bricks, now. I know.

And while they’re arguably a product of the movies, with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead proving to be the most influential Zombie flick of them all, games have picked them up like adoptive Zombie-parents. They slide into gaming even smoother than Nazis and Terrorists combined; moral dilemmas are thrown out the window and time usually spent coding AI can be better spent on recording Foley sounds for ripped flesh and torn arteries. I recommend snapped celery sticks for broken bones.

Because when you throw out (Dawn, Day, Night, Weekend, Hanukah) of the Dead’s subversive consumerism themes or social and racial overtones, they’re about a rag tag bunch of survivors who must team up to stop a seemingly endless horde of unreasonable, unstoppable monsters. That’s pretty videogamey, right there.

They key in to horror games as effortlessly as action ones, they work great alone and even better in co-op. Dead Rising’s million-plus sales and Left 4 Dead’s undying support have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Zombies are the new hotness.

But as quickly as they ravaged our gaming libraries, they’re starting to wear out their welcome. If you’ve got both Zombie Genocider achievements in Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead, you may only earn a mere 40 gamerpoints, but you’ve also slaughtered the entire population of East Staffordshire.

AAH! Run Away!
AAH! Run Away!

I’ve shot Zombies with every weapon, encountered them in every situation and seen everyone from a plantation worker to a bobsled team undergo impromptu zombification. Plants vs Zombies, Burn Zombie Burn, Zombies & Me, Zombie Wranglers – not forgetting undead minigames in Saints Row 2 and Call of Duty: World at War, or zombified events in World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto IV. In the brief three years since Capcom proved the Xbox 360 powerful enough to render hundreds of undead foes, we’ve seen more Zombie games than you can shake a cricket bat at.

Have Zombies descended into gaming-cliché-hell faster than an express elevator full of Nazis and M1-Garands? We’re so inundated with these games that I’m starting to lose hope, starting to think we’ll be running forever, starting to think there’s no helicopter, truck, boat or freshly-fuelled plane on the runway of life. I don’t think I have the strength to even lift my shotgun to head-height any more.

But as much as I protest against the saturation of Zombies, I haven’t thrown down my shotgun and sacrificed myself to the Witch just yet. The need for instant survival instincts, the tireless shuffles and groans of the enemy and the futile quest for sanctuary or cure, they can still provide a basic human need for mindless violence and brown-trouser scares. In fact, when November rolls around, I know we’re all going to be pawing at GAME’s windows, mouths agape, ready to gluttonously ravage Left 4 Dead 2.








One response to “Not Another … of the Dead”

  1. MrCuddleswick avatar

    I’m not bored of zombie games, I and was playing the original Resi when it was released. But then, maybe I’m the exception. I just love killing zombies. Boom! Headshot! Boom! Footshot!

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