The 5 Best Zombie Games on the Consoles

*Note – Because I’m behind on my update schedule, I will be updating on Sunday instead of Saturday this week.

If you haven’t noticed yet, zombies are kind of a big thing for video games, more now than ever before. Every nerd worth his or her salt has detailed zombie apocalypse plans/power fantasies, and video games let us act out our base desires of wanted to kill the crap out of the undead. Despite how popular zombies are in video games these days, few full retail games are actually zombie games. It is far more likely for a game to include some form of zombie mode or minigame. In non-retail games, zombies overwhelm the market like it was trapped in a farm house; however, most of these games are absolutely terrible and only try to cash in on the cultural phenomenon. When we look at zombie games today, we will only be looking at zombie games, not zombie modes or minigames, or small parts of a larger game, so you can expect to not see any Call of Duty game on this list. I’m also restricting this to consoles, as I don’t want to open myself up to accusations of skipping over some excellent, obscure PC game. Finally, the creatures have to be zombies. I’m not looking at parasites (Resident Evil 4/5), mutants (House of the Dead), or any other zombie derivation. Basically, if George A. Romero wouldn’t recognize it as a zombie, it won’t be on the list, not to say there can’t be fast zombies though. Anyway, enough with the preamble. Let’s get down to business!

They’re coming to get you, Barbara, there’s one of them now! 

5 – Resident Evil 2 (Playstation)

Resident Evil 1 started the survival horror franchise, but it sure as hell didn’t master it. It’s hard to believe now, but way back on the Playstation, the Resident Evil series was the preeminent zombie series. Before Capcom cranked up the action with Resident Evil 4, the series was actually known to be a punishing, zombie-filled, horror show. Resident Evil 2 was the perfection of the Resident Evil formula. The third game was a further refinement, but the gameplay was getting a little stale, it was too frantic and it relied too much on Nemesis (Who is amazing by the way). Code Veronica simply tried to bring Resident Evil 2 to the next generation, but it only showcased how little the series had evolved. No, Resident Evil 2 stands at the top of the pile as what can be considered “old school” Resident Evil.

Finish Him!

Why is it Such a Great Zombie Game? 

The reason this game beats out so many others is simply because of its genre. Survival horror was literally made for zombie games (The term having been coined by Resident Evil 1). As nerds, we know that a single zombie isn’t dangerous as long as you can keep your distance, and we all know as per our preparedness for the coming zombie apocalypse that ammo is in short supply in these situations. Resident Evil 2 follows these rules. Zombies aren’t tough, and any measure of ballistic weaponry will down them without any trouble. With some Barbara-esque maneuvering, one can simply run around the zombies. With ammo so scarce, the player has to decide if they are willing to risk running around a pack of zombies or if they can afford to blast through them and possibly pay for it later when they reach an unavoidable swarm with no bullets. That is survival horror and that is why Resident Evil 2 is amazing.

Best graphics ever… right?

4 – Dead Rising 2: Off the Record (PS3/360)

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record beats the vanilla Dead Rising 2 and the original simply because it has more content, and more content is always a good thing. The series was an unexpected hit for Capcom who were basically forced into making it by Mega Man creator, Keiji Inafune (It turns out that if you trick a company into spending enough on a demo, they’ll pretty much have to make the full game). Well, like Capcom does, they started pumping out more games, and some, like Off the Record, were entirely unnecessary. However, even as an unnecessary game, Off the Record still stands as the best in the series, returning the protagonist of the first game, and adding some wacky elements to the main story.

I don’t need to explain why this game is amazing right?

Why is it Such a Great Zombie Game? 

The Dead Rising series is definitely a weird one. One part Dawn of the Dead and two parts Return of the Living Dead, the series is off the wall and goofy, but provides just enough disturbing social commentary to make it work. The series channels every goofy B-movie zombie flick you’ve ever seen. Listen, internet, this section isn’t necessary. Any retail game that puts you in a shopping mall full of zombies and tells you to go nuts is going to be an incredible zombie game. It is telling that Capcom had to preemptively put a disclaimer on the original’s box stating that the game was not affiliated with Dawn of the Dead.

Truly a silly game.

3 – The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned and Undead Nightmare (PS3/360)

Yes, I know, internet, it is a short list and I’m already breaking my “only full zombie games” rule by including two pieces of DLC. However, both of these pieces of DLC are expansion grade and are, in many ways. much better than their main games, so I’m including both as one entry to balance it out. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned is the first major piece of DLC for Borderlands, while Undead Nightmare belongs to Rockstar’s cowboy epic, Red Dead Redemption. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned was the first example of the developers of Borderlands finding their own unique voice in a myriad of shooters and the Undead Nightmare might as well be a full game for all the content you get.

Yeah, a Frankenstein zombie with a lootable treasure chest on his back. I love Borderlands.

Why is it Such a Great Zombie Game? 

While Resident Evil 2 captures a real zombie apocalypse feeling and Dead Rising captures the feeling of zombie movies, both of these games epitomize the video game zombie phenomenon. Dr. Ned brings us crazy quests like collecting brains, and a plethora of zombie pop-culture references. It is basically a nerd wet dream. Speaking of wet dreams for nerds, Undead Nightmare combines cowboys and zombies. Listen, internet if the movie Cowboys vs. Aliens can exist entirely on the premise alone because of people nerding out over it, Undead Nightmare definitely deserves some attention. Very little epitomizes nerd culture like video games, and both of these expansion are an absolute love letter to that culture.

If only Daniel Craig had made it into this one.

2 – Dead Nation (PS3)

Dead Nation is the best arcade-style zombie game on the market. There are no competitors that even come close to matching this game’s greatness. Many a gamer have had a chance to play this game as it was one of the free offerings available after the major PSN hack. Like many arcade zombie games, this game focuses on huge, en masse, zombie killing from an overhead perspective. Unlike most other arcade-style games, this game reeks of atmosphere and substance. The environments are linear and designed to push an undeniable feeling of dread upon the player.

Just another commute

Why is it Such a Great Zombie Game? 

Unlike the other games on this list. Dead Nation takes place after the zombie apocalypse. Few pieces of media explore this portion of the zombie plague. Everyone is already dead. It is simply a matter of time before your character joins them. There is no real hope of a happy ending. Ignoring the depressing themes, Dead Nation provides the same extreme zombie killing fun as Left 4 Dead, but in a far more meaningful way. It isn’t always non-stop zombie killing, there are legitimate moments of quiet, erie reflection that make this game far superior to the Valve game.

Yeah, I’m thinking bullets

1 – Resident Evil (REmake) (Gamecube/Wii)

This is for all of you who thought it was blasphemous that I snubbed the original Resident Evil. The original Resident Evil was given a remake on the Gamecube. It is affectionately known as the REmake by fans, and it is the best zombie game ever made. Resident Evil 1 on the Playstation is completely inferior to Resident Evil 2, but the second game does not even begin to approach this one. Removing most of the camp and bad voice acting, adding huge new areas and villains, and featuring the darkest, scariest environment of the series, the REmake is impossible to beat.

This is why I love pre-rendered backgrounds. This shot wouldn’t exist without them. 

Why is it Such a Great Zombie Game? 

The REmake is the biggest and best, and, unfortunately, one of the last examples of survival horror. Everything done in the Resident Evil series was building to it. While Resident Evil 4 reinvented the series, the REmake carefully looked back and picked the best of the best of the past. This is the only Resident Evil game I believe contains legitimate scares outside of general gameplay tension. When you can blow off a zombies head after thrusting a grenade in its mouth and that action is not played up for camp, you know you are in good shape. When you worry about burning your enemies corpse, lest he rise again more powerful than before, you know you have a classic.

Snake time?

There we go, internet, my picks for best zombie games in the industry. The only game that came close to making the list that didn’t was Left 4 Dead. Truthfully, it, and its sequel, have great gameplay and a killer concept, but terrible execution and are totally lacking in content. It seems appropriate that Capcom would be on the list as much as they are, seeing as they are such major players in the zombie game market. While zombies are big in pop culture, there is a surprising lack of full retail zombie games. Sure we get the occasional Dead Island, but developers seem to be more comfortable treating zombies as a sideshow than as the main course.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


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