The Zombie Jamboree

As a great fan of zombie games I feel I have to point out the momentous turn of events that we are currently experiencing in this generation of game consoles. I refer to the fact that there is now a major new zombie game out for every major console console platform. How can one be anything but happy about this?

On the Xbox we have already talked about Left 4 Dead. Suffice to say that the fun in the co-op continues unbated. Consider the following story from the other night. We had a group of three consisting of me, peterb and a beginner. So we set up a three-way co-op session with Louis as the bot. Louis, as we all know, is a god among men. Throughout the round, he consistently saved us from far away smokers and hunters with his insane sniping skills. He put up with our friendly fire. He kept the hordes at bay while we stumbled around the way we usually do. He consistently recorded the highest scores.

And how was he rewarded? At the end, he left the boathouse a bit too slowly, no doubt defending a position until one of us could safely exit. On the way to the boat, he was overrun by the last wave of grunt zombies, and then beat to death by a hunter. While we sat on the boat and escaped, the credits rolled with the words: In Memory of Louis. In memory of Louis indeed. He was truly the best among us.

Left 4 Dead has often been called a zombie movie simulator masquerading as a multiplayer shooter. If that’s the case, then House of the Dead: Overkill for the Wii is the out-takes from a B-level zombie movie rolled up into a single player rail shooter. The game is unabashedly moronic, marginally racist and sexist, overwhelmingly gory and a whole lot of completely mindless fun. But don’t take my word for it, even Yahtzee likes it. Zombies appear, you shoot them, you watch a horrendously stupid cut scene, you go to the next room. The two player co-op is apparently a laugh-riot as a party game. I am unfamiliar with this sort of social gathering, so I don’t have much else to say about it.

Finally, on the PS3 (and Xbox), this weekend saw the release of the latest Resident Evil zombie fest. This game has caused some controversy because of its allegedly racist imagery. I find it curious that this game has been singled out as insensitive and ignorant while hordes of gamers have been happily playing, for example, the “escort the hos” mini-game in Saints Row or collecting sex cards in The Witcher. Video games as a medium are overwhelmingly juvenile, insensitive and ignorant. By prevailing standards, RE5 is no worse than most.

Resident Evil 5 continues where RE4 left off, and generally presents you with the same run away, shoot, run away, shoot the mob, sort of gameplay that RE4 perfected. The controls are still a little wonky, but you managed to reprogram your brain to enjoy RE4 you will do fine here.

The only major twist is the addition of a female sidekick who forms the basis of the co-op gameplay. Other games that assume you want to play with others have tended weighed us down with A.I. partners that just die a lot and slow things down. Sheva has this problem to some extent, but I have found that if you equip her with limited weapons and a lot of healing items she can be pretty handy. She can kill things with the SMG, which is something I never figured out how to do. And, when things get hairy, she will deploy the healing spray without requiring that I break my concentration to do so.

So while I’m theoretically unhappy about the assumption that I will want to play this game co-op (none of my friends seem to want to lower themselves to buy the game at all, much less on the Playstation), in practice it is working out pretty well. There are zombies, there are shotguns, there are zombie dogs that you kill with shotguns. Therefore, life is good.