Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Why Zombies?

Rather than reviewing a game this time round; I decided I'd try my best to analyze what's going on with gaming patterns at the moment in the industry - This of course means, I'll be talking about the somewhat sudden Zombie obsession that we've all grown to love.
Zombies games have been around for a looooong time; Whether you'd consider spanning back to "Help! Zombies ate my neighbours" Or whether you'd like to keep it to the survival genre that really started with Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Alone in the dark back in the days when the 3D era was just spawning.

Survival Horror of the early 90's? I really doubt it.

I honestly don't think 8-Bit or 16-Bit games really started the obsession we have with Zombies nowadays, but who knows, they might have been what inspired developers to love Zombies, chances are it was the older Zombie films that inspired the darker, scarier survival horror games; films such as George Romero's Dawn of the dead and Day of the dead (Both of these films having a lot of influence within Dead Rising; A Zombie beat 'em up set within a shopping Mall in Colorado.).

But Zombie games have moved on within the series, to begin with survival horror games were played by fans of Horror films, but it seems that times have moved on and everyone and their mothers are playing Horror games, perhaps not Survival Horror games, but the market for Survival Horror has definitely be enlarged by games such as Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Call Of Duty 5; These games - Whilst still supplying the gamer with a certain amount of fear, also take away the factor of fear, because you know that you are ALWAYS within your power to go Evil Dead on some of those Undead Bitches.

Some people might try to blame our love for killing Zombies on some paranoid, sub-conscious Apocalypse syndrome - The fear that we'll all become brain eating, undead cadavers; These are generally the same people that blame wars on Call of Duty and paedophilia on Pokemon games and the such.
I guess I can understand where they're coming from in one angle, I'm not too keen on the idea of being eaten by the living dead, but I wouldn't consider my love for Left 4 Dead as training against the relentless Zombie horde. I honestly think we just play along with Zombie games just because we either love the genre of horror or just enjoy the idea of blasting meaningless dead bodies to pieces.

It seems that when developers want to make anything scary within the video game industry, they add some dark lighting and groaning sound effects and we're all shaking like a shitting poodle and this isn't just within the horror genre of gaming; Everyone is doing it - Fallout, Fable, Half-Life (Props to Half Life for being fairly early with their Zombie stuff), Call of Duty, Time Splitters - I could go on.
I honestly think the fear that games such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil inspired this binge that we're currently having, not that it's a bad thing, but It's been a long time in the works - And it wasn't properly initiated until the latest generation of gaming, when developers must have realised "Whoa, hold the phone..We can fit a lot more than five Zombies on screen at once" And thus games such as Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead were spawned, both expecting a sequel Q4 of this year.

Frank West. He's covered wars ya' know?

Resident Evil and Silent Hill were both here for the rise of 3D gaming, it was all new to us, giving developers an opportunity to make those previously 2D scary monsters, somewhat life like and 3D.
The only fear we could possibly gain from the previous generations would just be something bigger than us, which whilst scary, was boring after several years of "Ofuck. A giant something or the other", course; whilst survival horror delivered scary in a more subtle way, it was never afraid of playing the "Giant bastard" card, which was not only scary, but possibly pant changing scary.

This bastard haunted my dreams for years.

This all leads me to the conclusion that we've got a few years left on the Zombie train; course there will be Zombie games once the bandwagon has been abandoned, but I'm doubting it will ever be as big as what we've got right now.
I guess the real question is "What's next?" Who knows - Maybe developers are already in preparation; I personally highly doubt that, they are probably all too busy trying to pop in a instant-cash Zombie game right now.
Perhaps we'll move onto Aliens; games such as Halo and Resistance tried pushing the whole "KILL THE ALIENS~!" thing - Sad thing was, they both did it so well that they annihilated any competition and thus didn't really spawn a new video game enemy.
Maybe Robots next? It's a weird one that no one's ever really touched on, probably for the best - I don't fancy a series of B-movie based "KILLER ROBOTS FROM MARS~!" games.

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