Friv: The Zombie Apocalypse

How did these zombies permeate the mass media and become such a popular enemy we love to despise? Today, a lot of games Sony Playstation can be played online, for example on the Friv Games online.

Well, just on a need to know basis, Zombies have inhabited gaming for almost over 20 years, with ‘Dead Rising’ 3 launched for the Xbox One, and the recent success of Naughty Dog’s ‘ The Last of Us’, we delve into why zombies are such a popular enemy and how the zombie genre in video games has evolved over the years.

The zombie-human connection is a bizarre and unique one, a constant cycle of changing roles where predator becomes the prey and vice versa. One needs to look at movie examples like Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’  that not only ticked off the mass hysteria of an entirely new sub-genre of movies, but also the pivotal reason behind the inspiration of countless video games that spawned in the past two or three decades.

The zombie culture, spread like a virus after the release of Romero’s inspired ‘Night of the living Dead’ survival horror game ‘Resident Evil’, coupled with the release of ‘House of the Dead’, giving rise to a mass zombie hysteria. Resident Evil sold 2.75 million units in the United States alone, its success resulted in it becoming a major zombie franchise encompassing video games, novelizations and films

Which makes us wonder,  how the zombie culture invade the gaming scene on such a massive scale?. And how it has evolved over the years.

Well, zombies kind of embrace a certain sense of disturbia limited to a certain sect of gamers,  a state of the unknown as to what’s coming their way creating a sense of tension. Unlike mainstream games, operas like ‘Halo’ or barbie doll material of ‘The Sims’, zombie genre is for those who won’t mind the sight of unscrupulous amounts of blood and the undead.

No doubt, the blend of zombies and games is just to good for game developers to avoid, as a means to explore the dark sides of humanity in a way no other medium can. It is a perfect match for games as it can render a perfect virtual world with so much of tweaks that makes it feel fantastic and special in a bizarre and intriguing way. Its not by accident that game developers realized the potential of the dynamics of zombies that can be blend so well with the virtual world of video gaming.

“..terror is in all cases whatsoever either re openly or latently the ruling principle of the sublime.

The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature…is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other. (Burke, 2008: 57)”

It all started with ZX Spectrum’s first zombie adventure, Zombie Zombie, where you are in the middle of a city swarming with zombies. This was a new breed of horror as you were the one being eaten, and your only redemption would be facing your fears over and over again till you eventually succeed.

Zombie

In 1985 came ‘Ghost n Goblins’, one of the earliest examples of a classic zombie game. It had pale looking zombies walking in a queue with their arms wide open and rising from below the ground. Followed by ‘Zombies ate my Neighbours’, where one play’s the role of teenagers Zeke and Julie, who are supposed to save their friends from flesh eating zombies, including a gigantic demonic boy.

Like zombies in movies during those times, they were only a threat in mass hoards. Just like the 60′s is known as the era of the hippie culture, it is the 90′s is when the obsession with zombies began. The Resident Evil Franchise set set the benchmark in zombie gaming, with sharper graphics, creepy sound effects and a survival horror riddled with puzzles, it was all just too perfect.

Resident Evil can be deemed as the epitome of a zombie franchise. It had all the necessary ingredients, from conserving ammo to exploring the environment, and of course, to avoid to be eaten by zombies. In the end, your motive was survival. It had an intense storyline with a fairly simple plot.

Zombie

Over the years the franchise evolved, there were a lot of nuances worked on the environment, for instance shooting a zombie in the leg would let you perform a strong meele kill on the enemy as he is down on his knees, this adds much more to the whole the gameplay experience. It featured game mechanics that may have introduced the notion of keeping the player immersed in cut scenes, for instance players had to hit a button at key moments so as to evade or swing a knife from an oncoming attack. This minimal interaction kept us at the edge of our seats, very intelligently executed and quite a thriller, thereby creating a legacy of an interesting evolution of cut scenes.

Zombie

Resident Evil became one of the biggest franchises of all time, inspiring films, novels, comics and action figures. As the series evolved, the tone shifted from survival suspense to action horror. This marked the era of zombies being actually threatening.

In 1996, the same year when Resident Evil was launched on the PlayStation, ‘House of the Dead’ was released on arcades. This was one of the first games to feature zombies with a different set of characteristics, from half naked zombies with no face, to zombies covered in slimy swamp waste.

Zombies out there displayed signs of intelligence as they can throw knives and barrels and had colossal mutated boss zombies with chainsaws. It had zombies with a sort of persona, intelligence and were extremely dangerous. This was a significant step in the evolution of the zombie genre. It focused more on action rather than survival, unlike Resident Evil, this one can be summed as ‘More zombie killing, no ammo worries’. All you have to do is to shoot the hell out of hordes of the living dead coming your way without paying much attention to anything else.

Zombie

However, its was in the new millennium when we witnessed a completely rearranged zombie concept, with the inception of a new a breed of zombies,  making it some sort of a personal vendetta. It allowed you to take out your bloated belligerence on zombies that you love to despise, tailor made for those of us who don’t have the patience for long and hideous passage ways, secret riddles, locked doors, these games are a ‘Hit n miss’.

Zombie

Yes! I am blabbering about Capcom’s Dead Rising. If Resident Evil can show the scary side of zombies, Dead Rising does quite the opposite. This is more of a spoof rather than a nerve wrecking out of your seat zombie game. There is loads of blood, gore and violence at it’s very core, but without having to take your character’s dilemma too seriously. In most horror games, a hand gun should suffice, though this is not the case with Dead Rising.

Zombie

There are a plethora of weapon customizations available in Dead Rising to craft some rather unique and creative zombie slaying arsenal. There are innovative options for slaying zombies, including boxing gloves with knifes affixed at their tips. Although your mission in Dead Rising is to rescue innocents and do other constructive deeds, but they are just a distractions from the ballistic zombie killing spree.

Zombie

Meanwhile, in 2008, Valve’s co-op FPS Left 4 Dead was released for the Xbox 360 and PC, where you have an option to fight as a zombie. Though its not the first title that lets you play as a zombie but, it does manage to do it quite effectively. This is one of Valve’s masterpieces, introducing multiplayer to the zombie genre.

Zombie

This is not a solo journey any more, although the single player campaign is quite a ride, joining with your online pals transforms the game into one of the most fun and unique experiences you can have. This was a quantum leap in the zombie genre. Left 4 Dead was apparently one of the first games to bring about massive hordes of zombies, with four players working together struggling to survive.

Zombie

The year 2006 saw the release of ‘Plants vs Zombies’ for the PC, where mother nature takes on the undead and zombies adapt and evolve. It involves players protect a home from waves of zombie attacks with a variety of plants and fungi. This marked the return of a 2D zombie, with the iOS version selling more than 300,000 copies in 9 days.

Finally, Visceral Games released Dead Space 3, which features zombies not the way we were used to, called  – the ‘Necromorphs’. These creatures turn into undead abominations after the spread of an alien virus. You play as engineer Isaac Clarke with basic space-age tools at your disposal, the lack of atmosphere and gravity tries to bring in a different element here.

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In the end…

Video games have been invaded by zombies since the 80′s. The first popular zombie video game was ZX Spectrum’s Zombie Zombie. 90′S is when the zombie epidemic really had an impact on the video gaming industry, from Resident Evil to Half Life, we have witnessed how the concept of a zombie has gone beyond dumb ass flesh eaters to the humorous side of zombies in ‘Dead Island’ and ‘Dead Rising’.

Recently, Dead Rising 3 was launched for the next gen Xbox One, while last year, Naughty Dog’s ‘The Last of Us’ bagged several awards. These are signs that the genre can and is still maturing. Titles like Dead Rising and Dead Island, where zombies are not a threat, well of course they are, but  unlike the RE series which lives up to the name of survival horror, ammo needs to be used with caution whereas now zombies are there to have fun with, beat them with a stick, use sickle to slash them in 1 move, or use a baseball bat to smash them into a pulp.

This shows that there is still a lot of scope for the genre to mature, and be revived. Zombie games will continue to evolve and become more and more distinct beyond mere cliched adaptations of the zombie genre.The future does look bright and zombie gaming will and never die, so long as developers and gamers can analyse how the genre can evolve.

In the video games industry, the zombies genres have generated $2.5 billion, with franchises including “Resident Evil” to “Dead Rising and many others.It is a deep personal connection, which does appear as if the zombie genre is getting saturated, but they are here to stay.

Clemson University professor Sarah Lauro came to the conclusion that “the phenomenon isn’t harmful or a random fad, but part of a historical trend that mirrors a level of cultural dissatisfaction and economic upheaval.”

 

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