If you’re reading this a week from now then the Mayans were wrong. Or I suppose more accurately the whack-jobs that misinterpreted the Mayans were wrong. Yes, it’s finally here. This Friday is the end of the world, and I’m looking forward to it. As a vague rule of thumb if you want to interest me in a game/book/film, set it in a post apocalyptic world. Maybe it says something deeply wrong about my psyche but I love a vision of the world without people, those few left eking out a living off what’s left of the land like the frontiersmen of old. So it seems fitting at this time to bring to you my favourite visions of the end of the world. So grab yourself some bottled water, board up your windows and doors and stick REM on the stereo, its the top 5 apocalypse’s …apocalypsees …apocalae?
5. Metro 2033
I’m not talking about the game, the game was…..so so. I’m talking about the book that inspired it. Within its pages Dmitry Glukhovsky has created a world that is alien and unique and at the same time gritty, real and hauntingly familiar. The premise is simple, the world above being systematically destroyed by nuclear war and as the raid sirens sound around Moscow people flee to the safety of the world biggest nuclear bunker,the metro system. Here they are sealed in and proceed to rebuild what the can of society underground. Through a winding adventure to save the metro itself from being destroyed Glukhovsky presents a view of society on microcosm. Extremists fight for control while more reasonable citizens are sidelined, agriculture struggles to feed an ever growing population and crime and poverty are rife. This is an apocalypse tale that dares to ask ‘Is the human race worth saving?’. The social commentary is broken up with monsters and ghosts big ass guns to keep the story from ever getting too heavy. It all makes for an engrossing world, for a small world.
4. Dead Rising
The Dead Rising series injects a much needed humour into the doomsday landscape. If you’re reading this site I would assume you’re aware of the games but just in case; The world of dead rising is, for the most part, standard zombie apocalypse fare but you are given the freedom to dress like a fool and beat up zombies with practically anything in the world. It’s one of those games that is what you make of it. You could get some bats and a gun and bash your way through the undead hordes or you could put on a cowboy outfit and run them over with a tricycle. I know what I choose.
3. Trilogy Of The Dead
Together George A Romero’s 3 zombie classics are undoubtedly the inspiration for many of the undead adventures (including the one mentioned just above) that currently swamp our pop culture landscape. The thing that made these films stand out when they landed on the video nasty scene was that the scares and the gore were always secondary to human emotions and interactions. Through the series we are invited think not just about brain chomping ghouls lurking around every corner but also important issues including racism,consumerism and the human thirst for power. Because when you get down to it, aren’t we all just zombies?
2. War Of The Worlds
H.G Wells’s tale is of a man wandering through the destruction of England after Martians have landed and destroyed our cites in order to get to the tasty tasty humans inside (think about those videos of monkeys hammering at tree bark to get at the grubs inside) while all of mankind’s perceived power counts for naught against an enemy with ‘minds immeasurably superior to our own’ . It is a slow, deliberate and tense world, creeping from building to building trying to make sense of the loss of the land you have always called home and of a city, once deafeningly noisy with industry suddenly quite and empty. This palpable sense of loss makes the tale of survival all the more powerful.
Of course it had to be Fallout. From the moment you step blinking out of vault 13 on your mission for a new water filtration control chip right up to battling over the fate of Hoover Dam with or against an army of wannabe centurions the Fallout series has presented the ultimate in post-apocalyptia. It brings together all of the elements I’ve stated above, be it the microcosm of society in the politics of Shady Sands, the awe of wandering a now empty Washington DC or the comedy value in tea-bagging a dead trader or deathclaw. I could (and probably one day will) wax poetic over the Fallout games all day but I will limit my words here to what puts it above the rest on this list. The immersion in the world. I’ve ploughed hundreds of hours into these games but the majority of this time is in the Fallout 3 and New Vegas wandering the wasteland. Just one person and their gun (and sometimes their dog) walking the lonely road,adventure behind every husk of a building, danger under every rock. It gives you as true an apocalyptic experience as you can have without radiation sickness.
Honourable mention. Doomsday Preppers
Now I know I’ve been banging on for some time now but I would be remiss not to mention the Doomsday Preppers. If you haven’t seen it yet (and if you want to each episode is free to watch on YouTube) this is a National Geographic “documentary” series following ordinary members of the public who have take it upon themselves to prepare for the end of the world. be it underground bunkers,garages stocked floor to ceiling with dried food and water or simply making sure they and their families are trained and ready to defend themselves, these people are ready for the end. Which makes for hilarious, human zoo television until you realize that if it does hit the fan,these guys are gonna be the ones laughing at you.
Have a wonderful apocalypse.