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Editor's note: I'll admit that I find something alluring about zombies — that creeping death now only a shell of its former self intrigues my imagination. I'm not alone, either, since so many developers work the walking undead into their games on a regular basis. Jordan demonstrates just how diverse their characterization can be. -Rob
The quickest way to receive a collective groan from the gaming community is to announce that a new title will feature zombies. Like World War 2 shooters, zombie games can be incredibly fun, but the concept quickly goes stale when we're flooded with undead mayhem.
With so many developers trying to squeeze zombies into their games, it is surprising how remarkably different the brain-hungry creepers can be. Who knew the idea of absent-minded, rotting hominids could be so diversely interpreted?
Read on for a list of games that show completely different takes on this classic monster.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Gensis, SNES)
Like a classic B-grade horror film, these ghoulish — but surprisingly well-dressed — creatures are your typical “terrorize the town” zombies. They blindly follow the player and their dim-witted neighbors in hopes of gnawing on their femurs.
Resident Evil (DS, GameCube, PC, PlayStation, PSN, Saturn, Wii)
It would suck to live in the Resident Evil universe. The series provides multiple methods to create entire zombie armies, so if one fails, a different ne’er-do-well will (try to) finish the job.
They have a Progenitor Virus, T-Virus, G-Virus, and parasites to control their victims’ minds and (if they’re lucky) gruesomely transform them into gigantic, tentacle-flailing monsters.
Stubbs the Zombie (Mac, PC, XBLA, Xbox)
What!? I’m the zombie? That’s preposterous…brains.
Playing as the enemy can totally change a gamer’s perspective. Zombies are simply misunderstood.
For instance, Stubbs just wants revenge on his murderer, Otis (his girlfriend’s father), and creating an undead army is the most efficient method. Plus, he’s driven by Cupid’s arrow to spend the rest of his “life” with his soon-to-be-zombified love, Maggie. Aww….
Dead Rising (Wii, X360)
Sometimes, slow, lumbering zombies are the best ones.
When mutated wasps turn a city’s population into a mindless horde and you’re stuck inside a kick-ass shopping mall or casino, you've only one thing to do: Satisfy your primitive, caveman-like urges by violently beating zombies with literally anything you can pick up.
Also, there’s a clown with chainsaws.
Dead Space (PC, PS3, X360)
The Necromorphs are perhaps the scariest and smartest (that’s what makes them so scary) form of zombie on the list.
Isaac Clarke is just an unfortunate engineer sent to investigate a ship’s distress signal. The ship’s former crew members have been reanimated with long, blade-like appendages, and the only way to kill them is by precisely severing their limbs. They don’t slowly walk up to you and struggle to bite your face; they sprint and slice your damn head off.
Pro tip: If you think that Necromorph lying on the floor up ahead is dead, it probably isn’t.
Call of Duty: World at War (PC, PS3, Wii, X360)
Nazis and zombies are definitely in my “Top Five Worst Things of All Time” list, so a combination of the two would have to take the number one spot.
Treyarch managed to make them even more formidable in Call of Duty: World at War because, unlike the other games, they can’t be beat. The fascist bastards start attacking at a leisurely pace just to make you think you stand a chance. Then, when you think you’re safe, another wave strikes!
No happy endings exist in the world of Nazi Zombies.
Left 4 Dead (PC, X360)
At first glance, the zombies of Left 4 Dead might seem generic — yeah, we’ve heard the whole virus-outbreak-creates-zombie-horde story before — but they actually have some depth.
The horde itself is considerately sized; if you suck at killing them, they’ll lay off for a bit. It’s only when you start to hone your zombie-slaughtering skills that you really need to worry.
What really sets this virus apart from the rest are the special mutations that it occasionally causes. A vomiting Michael Moore, a chain-smoking Gene Simmons, a roid-raging Roger Clemens, and many more await terrified players.
Plants vs. Zombies (Mac, PC, XBLA)
Who said zombies had to be gritty and disgusting? These cartoony fellows are just plain adorable. Sure, they hate plants, but who doesn’t?
Unfortunately, their cute aesthetic was a trade-off that made them laughably weak. I mean, if a few peas, mushrooms, and sunflowers can take them down, are they really a threat?
This could finally be our opportunity for zombie domestication!
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