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.
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.