Zombies are Now to Video Games as Vampires are to Movies and TV

If I were to write an article based on the observation that we’re suffering from a bit of a vampire overload in the media recently, I would think the response would be a resounding DUH.

Twilight is clear culprit, making vampires hip and cool, and so since that craze took off, our airwaves are flooded with vampires in every shape and form. True Blood, The Vampire Chronicles, The Gates, 30 Days of Night, The Vampire’s Assistant, Thirst, Underworld, Daybreakers, Let Me In, and Priest have been flooding our collective consciousness, and not to say that all of these entries are bad, but it is an overload to say the least.

But the same thing is starting to happen with video games, as zombies are quickly invading the medium at an alarming rate, and I’m almost ready to call it an outbreak.

What am I referring to? Well, there are the two main series of Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising, both of which recently got sequels, but also zombie game modes and DLC are invading other decidedly non-zombie games including Call of Duty, Borderlands and most recently Red Dead Redemption. And I can’t figure out why.

The zombie has to be the easiest type of enemy to fight when it comes down to basic strategy. They don’t have guns, and more importantly, they don’t have brains, making their plan of attack to charge directly at you, arms flailing, jaws agape.

At this point they’re just cannon fodder.

Sometimes, they don’t even do that, and you have zombies of the Dead Rising variety who saunter around like they’re from a George A. Romero movie, and really, in that game the only time they pose a threat is when you’re trying to escort a computer with AI on the level of a pocket calculator. Most of the real bad guys in those games are other humans with firearms, vehicles and yes, brains.

Left 4 Dead is a bit more challenging, as the zombies sprint at you 28 Days Later style. But I don’t understand all the fuss about this series. Yes, it’s Valve, so it’s clever and has good gameplay, but every level is just constant sprinting, occasionally turning around to blast the hordes chasing you. Yes, sometimes the zombies can  jump really far, or sometimes they’re really big, but basic strategy remains the same, fire into the crowd, use explosives sometimes, keep moving. It’s not exactly variety.

Now we move to zombie DLC, which I first experienced with Borderlands in the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned pack. A zombie infestation on a remote planet doesn’t make a ton of sense, but sure, whatever. But the problem was exactly as I described. Where previously, Borderlands featured bandits and soldiers with varieties of weapons, and flanking strategies, here, the mindless hordes just wandered toward you, sometimes if they were really upset, they jogged.

The only thing worse than a zombie is a flaming zombie.

I leveled up my shotgun about 10x more than any other gun while playing these missions, because it was unquestionably the best strategy to just pump it into the fast approaching hordes at any given moment. Once I had a Bulldog with 20 rounds, meaning I never had to reload, the entire thing was cake. I don’t think I died once.

Now the zombie plague is spreading to Red Dead Redemption, one of my favorite games of the year. It was a masterpiece of storytelling, and the gameplay felt authentic for the time. But now, LET’S ADD IN ZOMBIES! It’s like taking the Mona Lisa and painting Joker makeup on it because you think it’ll be funny. It just doesn’t fit in with the tone of the game at all, and just seems like tacked on gimmick.

I wonder if bullets will cure this plague?

I’m fine with zombies in games, I’m just saying it’s often times lame when they’re the ONLY enemies around. Fallout, for example, does a good job of mixing enemy types, “feral ghouls” being the zombies of the bunch. But with no brains, little brawn and only numbers on their side, slaughtering zombies in games is starting to feel like more of a chore than actual fun. I’m assuming I’m mostly alone with this sentiment, as these games and modes are quite popular, but does anyone else agree with me?

I forgot to even mention Resident Evil, where in 2010 it doesn’t even let you MOVE to kill sauntering zombies.

  • Dylan

    Don’t forget Call of Duty: Black Ops has confirmed Nazi Zombies content if you by the Prestige or Hardened Editions

  • Ricky

    I haven’t played any of the other zombie games so I guess it doesn’t bother me as much, but I can definately see your point.

  • moddyd

    Prototype was kinda of like a zombie game. But it was a lot of fun. That reminds me I need to go finish that game.

  • josh

    Lets not forget crackdown 2 and a new installment of the yakuza franchise both including zombies.

  • Deodorant

    Actually, i think tactical, ten-digit-life-bar, RPG-style combat is the most chore-like fighting in games. Slaughtering weak enemies in big numbers can be pretty fun. OHKO-ing ghouls in VATS in fallout 3 never ceases to amuse me.

    I do however agree that the zombie shtick has gone overboard, but for more pretentious reasons than you do; The genre is visually really boring. The money that is invested in producing generic zombie games could have gone into making aesethically innovative games such as bioshock and assassins creed.

  • Tron

    Not me I love zombies.

    Also for Red dead they didn’t JUST decide to add zombies.

    the ‘zombie dlc’ has been in the works and announced for since the came out and they announed they were producing DLC for it.

    and zombies are like bacon…

    in that it can’t hurt to add it. Just makes things better.

  • Jonas

    i cant say i agree, i ove zombies! 😀

  • OTWarrior

    ” every level is just constant sprinting, occasionally turning around to blast the hordes chasing you. Yes, sometimes the zombies can jump really far, or sometimes they’re really big, but basic strategy remains the same, fire into the crowd, use explosives sometimes, keep moving. It’s not exactly variety.”

    Isn’t that just like every other FPS? Games by their very nature are repetitive.

  • Pingback: Zombie Link Rises |()

  • Boomshackalacka

    Turning around to cap a zombie sprinting at you right in the dome just never gets old.