As of late, zombies seem to have moved from the niche horror market that they were in to a full blown infestation of our our popular culture, from films like Zombieland, 28 Days Later, Rec, and George A. Romero's legendary series, to the Marvel Zombies comic book world. The mythologies behind the various types of infected featured across the media is largely the same; a localised infection of some kind, usually arising from a government experiment of some sort, reanimates dead bodies and either turns them into rotting, shuffling, ravenous husks, or into the terrifyingly brutal running forms that have recently been created. The gaming world is no stranger to the genre with the majority of top notch undead killing interactive entertainment being moulded by Capcom, and I thought what with the release of Dead Rising 2 last week and my obsession with all things zombie related that now's as good a time as any for them to be the focus of this week's Top Ten. Also, just to let you know, I'm being somewhat of a zombie purist, so if you're upset or annoyed by the fact that Resident Evil 4, or 5 for that matter, aren't on the list, it's because the Ganados and other human that have been infected by Las Plagas are not and will never be zombies!
10. House of the Dead
Taking place inside another creepy, run-down mansion, this game heralded one of the undead's first appearances in on-rails shooters, and allowed people to spend many an hour pointing their rail guns at the screen of an arcade machine and empty clip after clip into the groaning corpses necrotic bodies.
9 House of the Dead 2
Let me take the time out now to explain why I've placed HOTD 1 and 2, so low in this weeks list; despite the fact that they're great fun to play, there's only so long that you can spend standing up or sitting down, depending on where your playing, trying to keep your aim steady with a fairly large plastic gun in your hands. This instalment really brought the series out of the arcades and into people's homes when it was released on the Dreamcast, in fact not only was it one of the Dreamcast's big selling points in my opinion, but it was also one of the first games that i can remember having a truly awesome multiplayer experience. Whilst finishing off regular zombies was great fun, the real challenge came from the ferocious boss battles. The game also has a couple of features that were fairly new to on-rails shooters at the time, including branching paths and an auto reload that was activated by flicking your light gun off-screen.
8. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Taking place shortly before and concluding two days after the event of Resident Evil 2, players take control of Jill Valentine as she attempts to flee Raccoon City. Now whilst Resident Evil 3 might not be the best instalment of the series and was definitely a disappointment compared to its shining predecessor, the opening to the game as Jill found herself trying to navigate the newly infected environments was pretty tense stuff. The game also gave us one of the scariest enemies in the form of the seemingly indestructible nemesis, who was sure to destroy you at close range, but as you ran away to what you thought was safety, he could still cause your demise at a distance using one of his purple tentacles.
7. Resident Evil: Code Veronica
I know a lot of people who didn't get on with Code Veronica, but I really enjoyed it for the following reasons; you could dual wield pistols and target two enemies at a time; it was set in a different location which was very welcome after spending such a long time plodding around Raccoon City and the surrounding area; both Redfields were playable characters; it introduced us to the Ashford family; and last but not least it featured the on-screen return of the Resident Evil series number one bad guy - Albert Wesker.
6. Dead Rising
Set in Willamette mall, players take control of photo-journalist Frank West as he tries to discover the truth behind the outbreak of zombies in the small town. Don't get me wrong Dead Rising definitely has it's share of annoying flaws, the photography sections of the game aren't great and you lose interest in them almost immediately, it's fairly hard to get into at first, and the time limit can get on your nerves, however it's great fun to be able to use everything in the environment as a weapon against the undead from giant Lego heads to chainsaws!
5. Resident Evil
As you run towards the Spencer mansion at the start of the game, you know something isn't quite right. Then you start to explore a bit and I'm sure those of you who have played the game'll remember trying to head back out through the mansion's double doors, only to be greeted by a short clip of a couple of mutated dogs viciously snapping at you. Eventually, you come across the FMV that's certainly burned into my mind, as you get your first sight of a T-Virus stricken corpse chowing down on a freshly killed human being. This is a game that knows how to build up suspense, thanks largely to its list of enemies, from giant snakes, to the formidable hunters, the treacherous Albert Wesker, and the ghastly Tyrant.
4. Left 4 Dead
Trading in slow moving zombies for panic inducing running zombies, Left 4 Dead encouraged players to stick to the other survivors in your group because without them you're as good as dead, which is something that I found out very quickly whilst playing the demo. It also introduced gamers to 'The Director', which is the AI that controls the undead hordes in the series and adjusts the game depending on how you're playing. Basically, this means that each time you jump into the game you'll get a different experience depending on how you're handling things.
3. Left 4 Dead 2
Despite the fact that Left 4 Dead 2 feels too much like an extended bit of DLC, I prefer it to the original thanks to the changes that the developers made, including the inclusion of melee weapons and new firearms, and the new types of 'special' infected, in particular the ones that are enclosed in hazmat suits.
2. Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 2 was not only the first game that I remember being scarred out of my wits whilst playing as kid, but it was also the piece of media that kick started my love of the zombie genre in general. This was the first outing for Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, in a magnificent story that showed the downfall of Raccoon City following the events of the first game, as you battled against the familiar T-Virus infected members of the human race and the various creatures it had mutated including the horrific lickers, as well as Umbrella virologist William Birkin who became hideously transformed after injecting himself with a sample of the G-Virus.
1. Dead Rising 2
Why is Dead Rising 2 number 1, I hear you ask. Well, it's a fantastic improvement on the original with a whole host of hilariously violent combo weapons, like the paddlesaw (a chainsaw combined with a kayak paddle), the new co-op mode is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I've had all year, the story is intriguing and sucks you in right from the start, you can customise your character from a pretty big selection of clothing items that are strewn around the environments, the multiplayer mode is an interesting and welcome addition to the series, there are numerous tricky achievements to try and pick up, and oh yeah it's an absolute blast!