Dave goes on a rampage against gaming’s new vanilla enemies; Zombies. Is State of Decay worth your time and money? or are you better off just ripping off your flesh and joining the undead herd.
Can you remember creeping through the halls of Resident Evil’s mansion for the very first time? Can you remember seeing Silent Hill’s nightmare world unfold before your eyes as you gripped your controller in sweaty anticipation? I can; but the thing I am most afraid of does not lurk in the dark, it’s forgetting what we were so scared of in the first place.
If you look on any big games website and look up the reviews for Resident Evil 6 or Dead Space 3, you will see a raft of people screaming at the top of their voice that survival horror is dead. The tattered flag of previously revered franchises is left flapping at half mast amidst a sea of disdain.
To quote The Mighty Boosh‘s Hitcher: “Elements of the past and the future combining to make something not quite as good as either.” That pretty much sums up the current trend of the Resident Evil series. But there was a point in 2005 when it took a U-turn, that not only surpassed (in my eyes) its predecessors’ survival horror roots, but has never come close to topping with subsequent releases: Resident Evil 4.
There have been many fads in the world of gaming, certain tropes and choices that developers have relied on to move cartridges and discs. One of the easiest ones to look at is common enemy types. In the early days of gaming we had things like Galaga and Space Invaders. Games that encouraged us to look to the skies for a new species and then blow said species seven ways from Saturn.
After aliens we went through Robots into Soldiers and then two enemies kept rearing their heads like a Whack-a-mole game on overdrive; I speak of course about Zombies and Nazi’s. The push for Nazi’s saw them appearing in a hundred different RTS’s and FPS’s on every console and home computer going. The simple truth is that there are a very few people in the world that would feel bad for attacking them, virtually or in reality they have been, rightly so, painted with the brush that makes them almost universally hated.
Whether it be DLC, arcade games or full retails releases zombies have returned from a mild mid 90’s drop off the pop culture radar to come back with amazing rambling force. Many aspiring film makers see their first films as being zombie comedy horrors as for some reason in the world of horror it’s ok to be obviously low budget. Literature has seen such examples as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and World War Z both reach best seller status, and have impending film adaptations coming in. Musically I struggle to think of examples unless people will let me get away with Gwar or Lordi…
When it comes to games there have been many examples in the past 5 years of games using the shuffling masses as their main enemies. Dead Rising 1 and 2, Call of Duty DLC and even a game I reviewed on this very site Dead Block. All of them novel in their own way, but with copycats-a-plenty and rehashing of the same principles and genres I decided to try and do the developer’s jobs for them and try to think of some genres that have been lacking on the walking dead front.
Zombies are awesome. I’ve written two reviews of games on this site which feature them, and I’ve even written an article on why we need more zombies in gaming. As such you would assume that a game like Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City would be a zombie apocalypse wet dream for me, and thankfully it is.