As one of the most popular villains in video game history, zombies have given gamers the challenge of surviving and thriving amidst hungry undead or infected mobs of bloodthirsty monsters. Without further ado, the top five zombie games on XBox 360 (in no particular order).
Resident Evil 5 Xbox 360 (also on PS3 and PC)
Easily the longest-running (har har) zombie survival series, it’s no surprise that Resident Evil 5 makes it on this list. However, the Resident Evil series has strayed significantly from its beginning as a survival-horror genre, into what now more closely resembles a pure action title, albeit with limited ammo and a frustrating real-time menu system. The zombies are also less zombie-like than ever, clearly inspired by some kind of mix of 28 Days Later style zombies and the freakish vampire abominations from Blade 2.
Adding a second player via co-op has also significantly reduced the fright of facing down an undead, murderous mob by one’s lonesome, along with the game’s primarily sun-lit setting. Despite its flaws, Resident Evil 5’s intense action creates a fun co-op experience. But zombie fans looking for “survival” and “horror” might find disappointment instead.
Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse Xbox Originals Download (also PC and MAC)
While originally an Xbox title, Stubbs the Zombie’s revival as a download from Xbox Originals for 1200 MS points ($15) on XBox Live Marketplace deserves special mention.
Built from the ground up with the Halo engine, players (up to two co-op) take control of Stubbs the Zombie as he awakens from his deathly slumber to wreak havoc on humanity and find his love. Not only does this mean brain-munching, it also means harnessing unique techniques like mind-controlling walking hands, and exploding bladders.
Too many unnecessary gameplay elements, such as vehicles and a “dance-off” mini-game, unfortunately detract significantly from the experience. However, the unique “you are the zombie” gameplay warrants a $15 purchase from avid zombie fans, especially avid zombie fans with a unique sense of humor.
Dead Rising Xbox 360
So inspired by George A. Romero’s movies was Dead Rising that Capcom actually got sued for it (conveniently after the game became a success). No surprise, then, that Dead Rising is a zombie video game fan’s dream come true.
Freelance photojournalist Frank West follows a “story lead” to Willamette Parkview Mall. Frank bites off a little more than he can chew by taking this story, in which shambling corpses are literally attempting to bite off more than they can chew.
Dead Rising offers a wide variety of unique gameplay elements. The game progresses in 72 hour segments, with various story elements and rescue missions happening in real time. Players can ignore these missions and story segments, and have the freedom to do whatever they want within that 72 hour (in-game hours) period of time. The freedom of action is heightened by the seemingly endless amount of usable weapons and items scattered throughout the mall.
While criticized for frustrating gameplay elements, such as the unforgiving save system and relentless cell phone calls from Otis, Dead Rising’s unique portrayal of the zombie apocolypse remains the definitive “zombie game” for the Xbox 360 console.
Left 4 Dead, Xbox 360 (and PC)
What Capcom and Dead Rising did for a single-player zombie game, Valve Software and Left 4 Dead did with a multiplayer zombie experience.
Clearly inspired by B-rate horror flicks (movie posters and all during load screens), four survivors must fight their way through endless hordes of infected monsters to escape with their lives.
Deliberately designed from day 1 as a multiplayer game, Left 4 Dead forces cooperation and team work, by making “special infected” monsters deadly to an individual, but weak against a team. Left 4 Dead features four campaigns of co-op play, while the Versus mode allows two teams of four to take turns playing as the survivors and playing as the infected. The Survivor Pack DLC will add new features for free this April 21.
Call of Duty World at War: Nazi Zombies Xbox 360 (also PC and PS3)
The Nazi Zombies game mode is only a small part of Call of Duty World at War, but its fun co-op action and zombie theme popularized the game beyond its initial fan base.
Up to four players hold up in a boarded-up building, with endless waves of nazi zombies pounding away for entrance. While most zombie games feature open areas and large numbers, Nazi Zombies deserves notice for the cramped quarters and the overwhelming power of the zombies. Only a few hits will result in death, so players must be careful to keep the zombies out for as long as possible.
Nazi Zombies significantly enhances Call of Duty World at War, and gives a desperate feeling of hopelessness that most zombie games lack. Unfortunately, only one map, Nacht Der Untoten, is available at the start. COD:WOW released a new map pack on March 19, but only one of the four maps, Verruckt, works for Nazi Zombies, and is priced at 800 MS points ($10).
While purchasing a full-priced game for one game mode is asking a bit much, along with an additional $10 if a second map is desired, finding Call of Duty World at War on sale might be worth a purchase for die-hard zombie enthusiasts. Renting is also a viable option. Either way, any true zombie fan should give Nazi Zombies a try.