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The Best Zombie Themed Games

Rounding up the best flesh eating video game experiences a gamer could ask for.

Review by Bill Lavoy, .

With The Walking Dead on hiatus until February and games like Dying Light and H1Z1 still a few days away from release, I've got zombies on my mind, and what better way to scratch that itch then compiling a list of the best zombie themed video games of all time?

First some self-serving ground rules.

1. Zombies must be a main theme of the game.

2. Zombies will be defined as "zombie like" creatures, meaning that variants such as infected are good to go. Think 28 Days Later here for comparison.

3. Because there's some good ones (and I make the rules), I'll include DLC packs and zombie specific game modes.

4. I'll probably miss something you would have included, so be sure to speak up and let me know what games would make your list.

Call of Duty: World at War Nazi Zombies

I probably could have replaced this game and mode with another from the series, but why not just go with the original from the franchise? Of course, I enjoyed zombies just as much in Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, but the idea really picked up steam with World at War. Sledgehammer Games will continue the zombie themed action with Exo-Zombies for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but something tells me that Nazi Zombies will retain its spot at the top of the undead CoD pecking order.

DayZ Standalone

This one was tough for me since the zombies in DayZ are a mild nuisance, unless of course they ignore things like closed doors and walls while I'm trying to chow down on a can of tactical bacon. Still, as the title suggests, zombies are a huge part of at least the DayZ theme, and the game (in spite of its bugs) is absolutely brilliant. Spread out over a map that is more than 200 square kilometers, DayZ allows players to create their own adventure, something that I've spent more than 225 hours doing. If you haven't taken a trip to Chernarus, it's definitely worth thinking about.

The Walking Dead

Hopefully you know that I'm talking about the one from Telltale Games and not the Survival Instinct version that hovered around a solid 3/10 on Metacritic. Of course, I'm going to include both Season One and Season Two in my praise, as playing one without the other would be downright silly. The game lacks the action of Nazi Zombies or DayZ, but the story makes this something that any undead fan should play, and likely can given that it's currently available on more platforms than I care to copy and paste. Each season will take you about 10 hours to complete, giving you plenty of time to power through both before the television show picks back up in about a month. Just don't go expecting to step into the shoes of Rick Grimes - this game has its own unique story and characters.

The Last of Us

This was pretty much the entire reason that I created the second rule, and I knew that you knew long before I told you. I also knew that not including it would make this list the equivalent of virtual toilet paper.

The game itself is reason enough to buy a PS4, telling one of the best stories in video game history, and that's not something I say lightly. The main protagonist, Joel, is voiced by the always on point Troy Baker, and Ashley Johnson takes on the role of Ellie, who you might remember as Mel Gibson's daughter in What Women Want... or maybe not. If you can't play it, find a solid let's play on YouTube and watch it. I'd suggest theRadBrad, who might not be the most skillful player, but is definitely entertaining.

Resident Evil 2

Some people might argue that Resident Evil: The Remake is better, but I spent a weekend sitting in my living room with my best high school friends, pretending not to be terrified of what might smash through a window and snatch the life out of us. We lacked ammunition, and Google wasn't really a huge thing at the time, so we stumbled around for hours trying to solve the game's puzzles. To this day, it remains one of my fondest gaming experiences, although there are definitely other installments in the franchise that are worthy of the list.

Left 4 Dead 2

If The Last of Us had to make the list for its incredible story, Left 4 Dead 2 locked down its spot for its zombie slaughtering, co-operative game play. Although it's been out for more than five years, it's still a fantastic way to kill a few hours with three of your best (or unemployed) friends. It's also worth noting that the AI was fairly solid, something that can be appreciated given the current state of artificial intelligence in video games. Although it was free on Steam for a day back in 2013, it currently goes for about 20 bucks for a PC copy. That's a testament to how good it is, even if not ideal for a game that's five years old.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Red Dead Redemption was good enough, but the Undead Nightmare DLC put it over the top. Take an amazing game from Rockstar that features an open-world Western United States, horseback riding and gunplay, then throw in some zombies and you have yourself a helluva weekend planned. Lock the doors, put the phone on vibrate and pick up a case of energy drinks, it's time to get your John Marston on. Just like Left 4 Dead 2, this one is about five years old, but definitely worth the 20 bucks if you've yet to sink your teeth into it. Get it?

Dead Space 2

You knew it was coming, even if it doesn't fit as snuggly into the rule set as some of the other titles on the list. Dead Space 2 cannot be ignored, as it combines a fantastic story, frantic action, and downright disturbing and terrifying game play into one beautifully grotesque package. While it's flanked by the well received Dead Space and Dead Space 3, the middle child stands out as one of the best survival horror games to ever be released.

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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #1 cldmstrsn 3 years ago
    definitely agree with resi 2 and last of us but would still pick REmake over 2 but man if I didn't beat 2 at least 30 times when it came out. that game blew me away. also 3 still scares me but I love it.
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  • Avatar for StevieWhite #2 StevieWhite 3 years ago
    RE1 was amazing at the time, really. Probably the most influential zombie game of all time, and really the last one I can think of where "why the hell are there zombies here?" was the major theme.
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  • Avatar for dmckean44 #3 dmckean44 3 years ago
    @StevieWhite Yeah, if only it didn't have those awful controls.
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  • Avatar for Active-ate #4 Active-ate 3 years ago
    @dmckean44 I respect your opinion and preference, but I hear this criticism of classic RE games a lot. Here's my tank control manifesto.

    In defense of "tank controls" in classic RE games:

    The first few games of the series had a very strong cinematic theme -- not surprising given their source material -- that newer games have lost. The fixed perspective gave the designers the ability to control what you, the player, could see much like a film director. These fixed views were sometimes frustrating -- hiding most of the room or corridor from view -- but sometimes the angle would allow the player to see around a corner that the on-screen character couldn't. The designers were able to beautifully create dramatic tension with these fixed angles.

    The only control scheme that makes sense with these fixed angles is the "up moves your character in the direction he or she is facing, regardless of camera angle" style known as "tank controls." If the characters controlled like they do in 3rd person over-the-shoulder games, your character would change direction every time the camera angle changed, which happened several times per room. When the camera would go to a reverse angle, holding the up button would cause the character to reverse direction and load the previous camera angle.

    While tank controls haven't aged well and have fallen out of favor, they function just fine in those games. With some practice, a player can control the characters quickly and smoothly. Many who have never played the game seem to think (and I'm not suggesting that you do) that the character must come to a complete stop to turn. This is not true, holding up and left will cause the character to walk forward and to his or her left. Good players can easily have their character run around corners and dodge enemies with little trouble.

    Another complaint we see has to do with the shooting. True, the character must come to a complete stop to raise their equipped weapon and shoot, but brute force combat wasn't the main point of classic survival horror games. By making combat a tricky and time-consuming task, designers encouraged the player to choose fights carefully and manage the finite ammo and healing items carefully.

    TL;DR Tank controls allowed the designers to make a very cinematic experience and create tension with camera angles that modern over-the-shoulder games have lost.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #5 brionfoulke91 3 years ago
    @Active-ate Amen! It's nice to see someone who actually understands what was good about tank controls. If you tried to replace the tank controls in RE1-3 with analog controls, the game would be much more awkward to control because of the frequently shifting camera angles.

    And I miss games with that style of dynamic camera angles. Having the camera always behind your back may be functional, but it's so cinematically boring. The dynamic camera angles in the early Resident Evils gave the game a more cinematic feel, like you were *playing* a horror movie, whereas more modern games tend to feel more like video games.

    Also, I like that you have to stop to shoot in the old Resident Evil games, it's much more realistic. If you tried to shoot while running in real life you wouldn't be able to aim properly. Granted, realism shouldn't trump fun in game design, but for a horror game adding more realism is usually a good thing.Edited January 2015 by brionfoulke91
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  • Avatar for Tamara-a1206 #6 Tamara-a1206 3 years ago
    Why must resident evil 2 \(~_~)/
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  • Avatar for ChrisDaPatriot #7 ChrisDaPatriot 3 years ago
    @Active-ate Tank controls forever!
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  • Avatar for ChrisDaPatriot #8 ChrisDaPatriot 3 years ago
    Not sure I agree with Dead Space 2 over the original. To me DS1 was the RE4 to DS2's RE5, if that makes any sense. In terms of combat and playstyle Dead Space 2 was much more action oriented, albeit fluid, and lacked a lot of the mystery and atmosphere of the first. It certainly could still be atmospheric when it wanted to, but most of the time I felt too powerful to be worried about what was coming around the corner. The huge, over the top action sequences didn't help either. Returning to the Ishimura was probably the most atmospheric section of the game. I also thought the whole "girlfriend haunting me at every turn" thing felt sort of forced and almost amusing at times, but to each there own. Fantastic article, either way. People always say they're sick of zombies, but I doubt I'll ever share that sentiment.
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  • Avatar for Active-ate #9 Active-ate 3 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 - "The dynamic camera angles in the early Resident Evils gave the game a more cinematic feel, like you were *playing* a horror movie..."

    Yes! You said it better than I could.
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  • Avatar for Damman #10 Damman 3 years ago
    I have a soft spot for "I Made a Game with Zombies In It!"

    It was an early Xbox Live Indie's game from Ska Studios that was basically a simplified Smash TV style twin stick shooter. You could beat it in about 20 minutes, and it's pretty basic looking, but the song playing over top makes it.Edited January 2015 by Damman
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  • Avatar for Bigtrunk #11 Bigtrunk 2 years ago
    The sony has been signing up for playstation 4 since the birth of the service, something that has become a tradition in the world of console games: Want to play online? You will need to pay for it. Fortunately, there is a compensation to the melhores jogos ps4 program where you win every month four games for playstation 4 since the birth of the service, something that has become a tradition in the world of console games: Want to play online? You will need to pay for it. Fortunately, there is a compensation to the melhores jogos de playstation 4 program where you win every month four games for playstation 4. The sony has been signing since the birth of the service, something that has become a tradition in the world of console games: Want to play online? You will need to pay for it. Fortunately, there is a compensation to the melhores jogos para ps4 program where you win every month four games for playstation 4.Edited 2 times. Last edited October 2017 by Bigtrunk
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