Jul 1, 2011

Words to Play By - Originally published in the Hudsonian October 2006

The leaves have all turned, and before we are shuttled through the barrage of cold weather holidays, we should take some time to enjoy October.  The fresh apple cider and Halloween spirit should both be savored, and one of the most fun ways to do this is by playing zombie games.

Dead Rising was released for Xbox 360 this summer by zombie game veterans, Capcom. You play the part of Frank West, a freelance photographer with a penchant for dangerous photo opportunities. When the game sets out, you only have 72 hours to complete the main storyline.  After a successful playthough of the main story is completed; the game awards you more and more time to play around in the mall and mop up any achievements you may have missed.  There are many survivors trapped inside Willamette Mall, but there are far more of the non-survivor variety. Just in case 53,594 zombies weren’t enough to keep you occupied, there are psychopaths and cultists ready to ruin your day at the mall.

Modeled after classic Romero films such as Dawn of the Dead, the most entertaining part of Dead Rising is the wide range of zombie killing tactics Frank can employ. Anything not bolted to the ground can be used as weapon.  My personal favorite is the giant lipstick prop from a cosmetics store that leaves bright pink splotches on the zombies. Items such as the lipstick are not as effective for defending yourself as the chainsaws and katanas, but make the zombie slaying extremely entertaining.

The save system stands out in this game as both innovative and annoying. The game ends if you die or miss an important case objective.  You then have the option of saving your progress and starting over from day one, or loading a save game.   Saving is the better option for the first few sessions of playing this game because you retain your experience earned.  This makes you stronger and better prepared for the next attempt. Experience is earned by completing side quests and taking pictures with your camera. The more interesting and well composed shots will net you more experience.  The downside of the save system emerges when you die while far into the story line. It can be very frustrating having to repeatedly go through the entire main storyline.

Also made by Capcom, any game in the Resident Evil series will be scary and well worth playing. RE 4 is on Gamecube and PS2, and is arguably one of the best games in the series. The original Resident Evil remake, Deadly Silence, is available for the Nintendo DS surprised me by being the only truly scary handheld game I’ve ever played. If you are looking for humor, you’ll be happy to hear they kept the original voice acting and dialogue.

Another great zombie game to check out is Stubbs the Zombie, Rebel Without a Pulse. This unique title won't have you killing lots of undead, instead it puts you in the shambling shoes of Stubbs himself. Stubbs the Zombie is developed by Chicago based Wideload Studios and is available for XBOX, PC, and Mac.

Don’t have money for a console or fancy gaming PC? Don’t worry, there is a fun and free zombie game where you can even join a horde to ransack a mall. Urban Dead is a massively multiplayer browser game without much art, but it only takes a little imagination to envision the carnage. Shuffle over to urbandead.com and join the survivors or the legion of undead in your spare time.

Whichever zombie game you choose, enjoy it. Zombies are meant to be killed, they are already dead. Happy Halloween!