When I was a child of say 5 or 6 years-old, my mom found me throwing one of my G.I. Joe action figures into the ceiling fan. It wasn’t malicious or anything. I just wanted to see how far he’d fly. But as she explained, “That’s not how you play with toys.” I lost the privilege of playing with that particular toy for the rest of the day, and was only given it back when I showed that I knew the right way to play. We need to do the exact same thing with zombies and the videogame industry. They’re out of hand and it’s downright ridiculous. Some folks out there clearly don’t know how to play with their toys and need to have them taken away.
This is something that’s been building for a while, but it’s all really come to a head in the last month or two. Games that don’t need zombies are getting them, and for the worse. For starters, ‘Red Dead Redemption.’ The “Undead Nightmare Pack” will add zombies, new wild animals and ghost town quests to the game.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the combination of cowboys and zombies is underrated. Back in the day, I was one of the very few players of Doomtown, a collectible card game set in an undead infested Wild West.
There’s just no place for it in the story of ‘Red Dead Redemption.’ Adding zombies into the world of a game like ‘Borderlands’ is no problem, but ‘Red Dead’ is based in the real world. It’s supposed to be over the top at times, but it’s not supposed to be supernatural. It cheapens the game world and it cheapens the zombies.
‘Crackdown 2′ is a great example of a game that added zombies – called freaks in the game – when it just wasn’t needed. Instead of a brilliant sleeper hit, the name ‘Crackdown’ is synonymous with an underdeveloped game that threw in the undead menace for absolutely no reason. Against the super powered heroes of ‘Crackdown,’ the zombies aren’t a threat. They simply serve as something that gets run over at night.
If you really want to get sick of zombies fast, you’ll want to check out the Indie Game section on Xbox Live. Sorting alphabetically on marketplace, you can find ‘Zombie Armageddon,’ ‘Zombie Estate,’ ‘Zombie Hunter,’ ‘Zombie Mania, ‘ Zombie Outhouse,’ ‘Zombie Sniper 3D,’ ‘Zombie Sniper HD,’ ‘Zombie Square, ‘ and ‘Zombies 2.0.’ That’s ten zombie games, and those are only the ones that start with the word “zombie.” You can bet that most of them simply threw zombies in to guarantee sales.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out one of shining beacons of glory on the otherwise dismal Xbox Live Indie Marketplace. ‘I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1′ is an entertaining enough game with a hilarious song that pokes fun at the entire zombie craze. It goes as far as to admit in song that, “I put zombies in it so you would play it.” It’s well worth your dollar for that alone.
It’s not that I don’t like zombies. I really do. I read ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’ and ‘World War Z.’ I even got the ‘World War Z’ audio book. I picked up the SwedishNorwegian zombie Nazi (or is it Nazi zombie?) film ‘Dead Snow,’ the brilliant ‘Shaun of the Dead,’ and the less brilliant ‘Fido.’ I’ve even got a nice collection of ‘Walking Dead’ comics.
These are examples of zombies done right. They’re not movies and books that just threw zombies into the mix. They’re the real deal. Zombies are at the forefront, not tossed in as an afterthought.
With so many people doing zombies badly – like the countless videogame companies adding them for easy sales, or George Romero trudging out yet another nearly unwatchable movie – it’s harder than ever for a zombie fan to scrape through the muck and find something that’s actually good.
From one videogame playing, zombie loving blogger to a whole world of developers, game designers and authors: Please, don’t say zombie unless you mean it.