Games that didn't need zombies

Listen, game developers – I know a zombie when I see one.

Call the things "mutants" or claim they've been "infected" by some vaguely explained "virus", but here's the truth. You're getting lazy and, more and more often, you're falling back on a completely unoriginal and ridiculously overused cliche for your games' enemies. To be fair, I can understand why…

Zombies are stupid: Programming AI must be much easier when that AI carries no weapons, knows no strategy and is interested only in running, crawling or shuffling forward mindlessly.

Zombies are generic: Don't waste the design team's time on new and never-before-seen monsters. Just make 'em sort of dull, decaying and brownish,
then call it a day.

Zombies are legion: Wave after wave after wave of recycled combat? A perfect – and cheap – way to increase a game's difficulty, or pad a game's length.

Zombies are popular: Movies, books, comics. The undead are everywhere these days, so even if gamers do realize your enemies are thinly disguised versions of zombies, they probably won't mind. Right?

Wrong! Personally, I'm tired of finding and fighting these brainless bad guys in every franchise, especially when the gameplay suffers, or when the genre, setting and story don't make any sense with them included. As a warning to the rest of the industry, here are the worst examples of games that definitely did not need zombies.


What the game called them: "Freaks"

How the game tried to explain them: They're not zombies! They're… homeless people, genetically mutated by M2448, a free medical vaccination that, in reality, was an experimental virus unleashed by former Agency scientist and current Cell terrorist Catalina Thorne to cripple and control Pacific City.

Why the game didn't need them: You're playing a superhero, for chrissakes. You can jump hundreds of feet into the air, and with the help of a special suit, soar for thousands of feet through the sky. You can outrace a speeding vehicle, or pick that vehicle up over your head. You can kill a man with one punch, or snipe him from a mile away. It's easy to forget when the missions, characters and story are so monotonous, but Crackdown 2 is supposed to be a comic book sandbox, the Marvel or DC version of GTA.

So why are these villains so utterly inferior to the heroes? If Batman battles the Joker, Superman wages war with Lex Luthor and Spider-Man trades punches and pumpkins with Green Goblin, why shouldn't the Agents of Crackdown be given an equally colorful and memorable foe? Asking them to slog through a swarm of forgettable, indistinguishable zombies is like ordering a SWAT team to exterminate rodents.

Example of tedious zombie gameplay:


What the game called them: "Descendants"

How the game tried to explain them: They're not zombies! They're… four hundred year-old Spanish pirates who competed with Nathan's ancestor, Sir Francis Drake, to locate the lost treasure of El Dorado. Which ended up being a giant golden coffin with a cursed mummy inside that, once opened, transformed them into immortal, island-protecting zombies. Er, descendants.

Why the game didn't need them: I'm fine with a touch of the supernatural in games like Uncharted. After all, this is a globe-trotting, temple-exploring, artifact-hunting adventure that clearly takes its cues from Indiana Jones, The Mummy and Tomb Raider, each of which verges out of reality and into the fantastic at least once. So, possessed Spaniards? Sure, why not.

Just because zombie-style enemies are appropriate, however, doesn't mean I should have to suffer through tired and predictable zombie-style gameplay. The first Uncharted is famous for its gorgeous tropical environments, surrounded by sparkling blue ocean and lit by dazzling bright sunlight. Even the interiors of ruins, though shadowy, are beautifully detailed and cleverly designed.

Suddenly, at the end of the game – when the action and visuals should be at their most epically spectacular – you're creeping through dank, dark, concrete hallways filled with locked metal doors and "slippery naked dudes" (as Nathan Drake refers to them in his journal) trying to chew on your neck as you desperately mash buttons to throw them off. This isn't fun, and this isn't what we expect from Uncharted.

Example of tedious zombie gameplay:


  • necrorraptor - March 2, 2011 2:05 p.m.

    Well... noting the comment about George Lucas franchise on the Flood section I can't help but remember "Death Troopers". A novel in the expanded universe that is about Han and Chewie fighting....oh well... after reading this article you can imagine what.
  • Memph - September 23, 2010 4:39 a.m.

    husk rushes scared the crap outta me playing on insane. hearing that breathy groan before they stampeded over my team towards me, pegging it in the opposite direction
  • Sala106 - September 10, 2010 11:27 p.m.

    Killing the Sires in Gears 2 was fucking awsome
  • SH00T3R495 - August 2, 2010 5:31 p.m.

    idc what any1 says simply killing zombies is fun and sometinmes challenging, its not fun to just take a shotgun and blow away things attempting to gnaw your face off and in some games it makes your heart race a little bit and its intense. truthfully i hate the flood but they are the story of halo
  • stormofdantess - August 2, 2010 9:55 a.m.

    But I like killing zombies, it's fun. What we need less of is bland human soldiers like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor has to offer. I'd rather kill a zombie. Which is why the only part of COD:WaW I play is Nazi Zombies. I personally love everything Zombies though so I didn't really connected with the article, but thanks Charlie.
  • oryandymackie - August 2, 2010 7:43 a.m.

    Zombies make everything better.
  • xthesawnoffx - July 31, 2010 2:56 a.m.

    not to start anything but technically.. sires arent zombies they are just locusts tested and neglected things the reason they SEEM to be zombies is because they werent "taught" anything all their lives thus making them stupid.
  • Sickooo - July 31, 2010 1:14 a.m.

    @governordyrssen dude whats your problem? you seriously need to calm yourself down...jeez
  • Sickooo - July 31, 2010 1:11 a.m.

    yeah i think that batman arkham asylum actually had some of these disguised zombies in it 2. they were the mentally unstable patients who ran up to you and jumped on your head...while scream in oddly zombie sounding voices
  • humpiedumpie - July 30, 2010 7:46 p.m.

    The zombie grizzly was great haha :P
  • theTYTAN3 - July 30, 2010 6:25 a.m.

    I dont know the flood were cool in Halo 1 because you weren't expecting them. You had no idea what was going on they had the creepy music and the covenant all laying dead around you. You watch an eerie video and then BAM theres an endless wave of little popping things, at first your scared and then your like ok these guys are easy wtf. Then wham you have tons of zombies running at you. You fight your way through them then all the sudden theyre shooting you, getting up after you killed them and exploding in your face. That level scared the crud out of me the first time i played it(probably helped that i used the assualt rifle and the pistol to fight them instead of the shotgun). Halo 2 you knew what to expect and you knew how to kill them they were no longer scary or intense and it was the same with Halo 3 and every single game that tried to duplicate what Halo 1 did with the flood. Which is why I'm really happy that theyre well be no flood in Halo Reach.
  • DriveShaft - July 30, 2010 2 a.m.

    I wanna see RDR zombies :D But agreed that Uncharted didnt need them
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - July 29, 2010 9:27 p.m.

  • smiteboy - July 29, 2010 1 p.m.

    Yeah I guess zombies don't fit in the old west of Red Dead Redemption. That world of GPS and teleporting wouldn't seem realistic with the living dead...
  • philipshaw - July 29, 2010 11:15 a.m.

    I have to agree with most of this article but I didn't mind the zombies in Uncharted 1, I thought it was a good change of pace but I can see why some people hate that bit
  • NobodyLikesPaul - July 29, 2010 6:43 a.m.

    lol i knew mass effect would get said XD
  • governordyrssen - July 29, 2010 6:38 a.m.

    PS thats a sh*tload of stuff wrong wit ur review.....FAG!
  • governordyrssen - July 29, 2010 6:37 a.m.

    this comment is for the halo zombie review: for one thing on halo the flood are just as repetitive as any other F*ckin enemy in the damn game and i think its a good thing they added them because if u get bored woth zombies [flood] u would get bored with every other character too which is what bungie probobly thought [in case u dont get what i said: bungie thinks you will eventually get bored with the covenent repetitive elites, brutes, and grunts so they added a new alien to keep u entertained and not bored with the game plus they dont add them until ur over 3 qrtrs through the game, lastly YES THEIR ALIENS] also if you wouldve not just said f*ck this when u saw what u thought were zombies if u wouldve kept on paying attention you would know the story line and it would make sense to you, you would see that they explain the flood and make them believable just as much as the covenant is.... THE HALO STORYLINE MAKES SENSE, WHOEVER WROTE THAT IS A F*CKING FAG, MOST PEOPLE I KNOW HATE SIERRA 117 LEVEL NOT CORTANA, STAR WARS IS SHIT COMPARED TO HALO, STAR WARS IS SHIT COMPARED TO ALOT OF THINGS, THE GRAVEMIND LOOKS MORE LIKE MY BROTHER THAN A F*CKIN HOUSE PLANT, THE FLOOD IF U WOULDVE PAID ANY DAMN ATTENTION IS NOT GOOEY AT ALL, OF COURSE THEIR GONNA BE UGLY TO U THEIR F*CKING ALIENS,THEIR WERE JUST AS MANY KINDS OF FLOOD AS ALIENS IN "HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED", THE FLOOD IF U PAID SOME F*CKIN ATTENTION ARE THE COVENANT CONTROLED BY A PARASITE SO GUESS WHT U HATE THE FLOOD -> YOU HATE THE COVENANT -> YOU HATE HALO -> YOUR A FAG!,UR TV BRIGHTNESS IS F*CKED UP, THE FLOOD HAS WEAPONS, THE FLOOD ISNT SLOW, THE FLOOD HAVE INTELLIGENCE, THE ONLY THING THE FLOOD AND ZOMBIES HAVE IN COMMON IS THEY ARE LIVING DEAD AND LOOK DEAD, UR A FAG, UR RETARDED BECAUSE THEIR CANT BE THREE HALVES, UR A FAG, AND THEIRS A SH*TLOAD OF OTHER STUFF WRONG WITH UR REVIEW THAT IM NOT GONNA WAST ANOTHER 10 SECONDS TO DISCOVER SO I'LL JUST SAY THIS UR A FAG U DONT DESERVE HALO YOU DONT DESERVE TO REVIEW GAMES, UR HAVE HARDLY ANY ATTENTION SPAN, AND LASTLY [NOT REALLY LASTLY BUT I RAN OUT OF CHARACTERS] WHOEVER WROTE IT IS A FAG [WHEN I SAY UR A FAG IN THIS COMMENT IM SAYING IT TO WHO WROTE THE REVIEW!]
  • Danomeon - July 29, 2010 5:50 a.m.

    Don't forget the first borderland's DLC.. I was very dissapointed that none of the iconic bandits of the game came into the zombie lands at all.. I was imaginging tons of new varieties for those guys. I hate zombies in games where they do not belong, but I can't resist actual games about zombies. I bought both left 4 dead games, dead rising (and soon dead rising 2), and even the bikini samurai squad game. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the monotonous zombie combat, because I like killing mindless foes. I don't know why.
  • Chickenfoot - July 29, 2010 4:03 a.m.

    Oh. I see, we should just cut out the entire Flood part of the halo series? Therefore rendering the halos useless, therefore making the halos never exsist, and all that crap!? So what? You want it to take place on one ship, and be called ........: Combat Evolved? You sir, are stupid.

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