Sunday, November 4, 2012

5 zombie-themed games you can play today, 5 just around the corner

Zombie games have saturated the market over the last few years. That's only because they're among the most fun enemies to shoot in the face repeatedly. Since it's that time of year, here's five zombie games you can play right now and five more to look forward to.
For our gentler readers who like it a little lighter than the list below, there's always Plants vs. Zombies! As fun as that is, we know you folks want some head-exploding, gory, frantic fun. Also, no whining that Resident Evil 6 isn't on the list.

1. Left 4 Dead 2 Left 4 Dead 2, three years old and running on the aging Source engine remains the zombie-slaying tour de force on both the Xbox 360 and especially on the PC (Windows, OSX and Linux). Left 4 Dead is, at its best, a cooperative first person shooter in which a party of up to four must traverse a zombie infested pseudo-New Orleans. This sequel scares up a slew of adversarial multiplayer modes as well. In true Valve fashion, Left 4 Dead 2 still sees support. The last DLC, Cold Stream, effectively doubled the size of the game’s content when it launched this past summer.

2. I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1 I Made a Game With Zombies In It!!! is silly. How silly? This is the theme song, and it cautions users that zombies, “They come shambling out, from the sides. You better shoot them, or you’re gonna die. Cuz I made a game with zombies in it.” The game is a simplistic twin-stick shooter for the Xbox 360. The mechanics are rock solid and playing it with three spare friends is like having a fresh slice of nostalgia pie. The game gets bonus points on two counts. First, it only costs a dollar. Second, there’s a Windows Phone version, though that one costs three dollars.

3. Day Z Day Z is ostensibly just a game, but there is a delicious social experiment wrapped in it. Players on the same server are not compelled to cooperate or compete. They simply exist in the same zombified open-world. It is entirely at each player’s discretion to help, hinder, murder or even enslave fellow survivors. Around the web, brilliant works cropped up detailing the variance of experience that Day Z inculcates. This is a game inspiring behavior, not compelling it. The mod captures desperate humanity at its best and worst. A standalone version of Day Z will arrive on PC before year’s end.

4. House of the Dead: Overkill This is the kind of game that the Wii was made for. House of the Dead: Overkill is an arcade style light gun shooter in the vein of Time Crisis and well, House of the Dead. This game is done in grindhouse style and it is slathered in equal portions corn and cheese. It’s not for everyone, but it should be. The game’s main claim to fame is its hilarious writing: “They come for brains, you give them…bullets.” House of the Dead: Overkill even briefly held the record for most curse words in a video game (it was dethroned by Mafia II.) The game made the jump to the PS3 as well.

5. Atom Zombie Smasher Atom Zombie Smasher isn’t a shooter. It’s a fast-paced strategy game that is harder than bricks. The game has a charming 1950’s style presentation and minimalistic gameplay. It works like this: There is an overlay of a city, gridded streets and all. Humans are tiny yellow dots and zombies are purple. Using myriad weapons, obstacles and tools, like sniper teams, barricades, and of course, nuclear weapons, you must protect the scant remaining humans while herding them towards airlift evacuation sites. Winning the game is no easy task, but victory is sweet. Atom Zombie Smasher is available on PC.

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 You may have heard of this series before. Treyarch is helming this year’s edition. That’s the studio that created the much lauded Zombies mode that originated in 2008’s World at War. The zombies in Black Ops 2 are back in a big way. Treyarch has included and expanded the popular Survival mode where the fun started, but is also adding a zombie themed campaign called Tranzit. In addition to these cooperative modes, Treyarch is kicking in competitive modes as well. Details are still short there, but it’s clear that this year’s Call of Duty will be one Hell of a full package.

2. Dead Island: Riptide The original Dead Island was a fantastic surprise when it debuted last year. The game’s dramatic debut trailer whetted the appetite for a game that would turn out to be a bit less serious than the trailer that preceded it. No matter though, the first-person, open-world zombie slaughter fest came laced with addictive RPG elements. Dead Island hit a sweet spot of satisfying zombie whacking mechanics and RPG-styled progression that overcame a rather buggy launch. Though details on its sequel are short, a similarly dramatic trailer has been launched, indicating a desire to build on their success.

3. ZombiU ZombiU is arguably the Wii U’s marquee launch title. The inventiveness in the game’s design bodes well for the console’s future. Naturally, inventory management is handled on the Wii U’s touch screen. The game however, does not pause. While you rifle through your inventory, you remain vulnerable. Forcing you to look between the two screens that feels natural and terrifying. When the character you play as dies, you will respawn as a different survivor. The twist? Feel free to go find your past self, re-animated as a zombie, and reclaim your gear. It’s a zombified spin on Demon’s Souls.

4. No More Room In Hell No More Room In Hell is a Source engine mod for Half-Life 2. The mod has drawn instant comparison to the Left 4 Dead series, but NMRIH lends itself more towards survival gameplay than the action stylings of L4D. The game is totally HUD-less, supplies are scarce, and once bitten, you will die in a matter of minutes if a cure is not found. NMRIH offers a staggering eight player cooperative experience. It is also one of the first games to be shepherded through Steam’s new Greenlight program. NMRIH, when re-launched on Steam, will be free.

5. The Last Of Us Naughty Dog, responsible for the Uncharted series, makes incredible games. The Last Of Us looks to be their most emotionally taut work yet. The story follows Joel, an adult, and Ellie a fourteen year old girl as they attempt to survive a fungal plague that zombifies the world. While not technically a zombie game, The Last Of Us shares the same themes, issues and oftentimes post-apocalyptic vision. We took a look at the game’s haunting combat at this year’s E3, it’s beyond impressive. While there is still plenty to learn, Naughty Dog looks to gift us with their special brand of authored storytelling when the game drops on PS3 next year.

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