The Top Ten Best Zombie Video Games

With zombie survival sim Dead Island finally released, we take a look at the 10 best games featuring the walking dead.

Dead Island finally released today, it€™s as good a time as any to take a look at 10 of the best zombie games ever made.

House Of The Dead 2 / The Typing Of The Dead (1998/2000)

SegaArcade/Dreamcast The best entry in Sega€™s light gun arcade series, House of the Dead 2 is so good that the worst voice acting in the world (seriously) only further improves the campy fun of the game. Working your way through the streets and canals of Venice, the game features good old fashion zombie slaying as well as some relentlessly difficult boss stages. While it might look a bit dated now, House Of The Dead 2€™s zombies -with their bulging eyeballs and scarred faces - were actually pretty scary back in 1998. Although, less said about the zombie owls, bats and weird snake things the better. A unique port of the game titled The Typing Of The Dead was released for Sega€™s Dreamcast in 2000. Wielding a keyboard instead of light gun, the game had players typing increasingly difficult words to kill the undead. It might sound stupid, but typing frantically to ward off zombies made the game scarier and resulted in even more tension . Never before or since has spelling €˜hippopotamus€™ been such a life or death situation. Sega might have been onto something here. If zombies were introduced into school spelling tests, children would quickly learn to spell even the toughest words.

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare (2010)

Rockstar GamesPS3/Xbox 360 Rockstar€™s Red Dead Redemption was one of the best games in recent years and spawned its very own equally amazing zombie add-on pack. Undead Nightmare sees John Marston return (good riddance Jake) not from beyond the grave but as an alternate storyline separate from that of the main game. The search for a cure takes you across the open-world, clearing out towns from zombie outbreaks as well as setting fire to coffins during the unnerving graveyard missions. The desolate setting of the Old West makes a surprisingly perfect backdrop for a zombie outbreak, and there€™s even zombified animals and tameable Horses Of The Apocalypse. Undead Nightmare is not only a a fine example of how downloadable content should be done, but a damn fine zombie game in its own right.

Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)

ValvePC/PS3/Xbox 360Left 4 Dead took everything that worked in Valve€™s online zombie shooter and perfected an already superb co-op experience. The new additions such as melee weapons - including Shaun Of The Dead inspired cricket bats - were so much fun that you had to scratch your head and wonder how they weren€™t in the first game. As well as the new refinements in gameplay, Left 4 Dead 2 introduced some new special infected including the Jockey - manically jumping onto your back and steering you around like a lunatic. But it€™s the core experience of Left 4 Dead that really counts - being one of the most enjoyable co-op games available. The new mini-missions such as defending a rock concert stage or collecting gas canisters for a speedy car escape, led to some edge of your seat final encounters. The campaigns were more varied too, with fairgrounds, malls and Mississippi swamps - while Valve showed just how cruel they are by throwing in a witch infested Sugar Mill, leading to jumbled cries of €œWITCH!€ repeatedly through players headsets.

I Made A Game With Zombies In It! (2009)

Ska StudiosXBLA On first glance, I Made A Game With Zombies In It seems like a fairly routine and cheap homemade arcade shooter. To a degree you€™d be right with that assumption, but suddenly the soundtrack kicks in - immediately transforming the game from generic XBLA title to cult classic. While you frantically battle zombies with up to four players and collect power ups, a cheesy rock song plays in the background with the singer commenting on the game itself. As the action becomes crazier so does the music, with the lyrics including such remarks as €œyou better shoot them or your gonna die€ and €œIt only costs a dollar€. I Made A Game With Zombies In It is both simple addictive zombie fun as well as amusingly satirical and has become the top selling Xbox Live Indie title. Its also had the prestigious honor of having its theme song follow in the footsteps of Portal€™s Still Alive to appear on Rock Band€™s Marketplace.

Call Of Duty: World At War/Nazi Zombies (2008)

ActivisionPC/PS3/Xbox 360/iOS While Treyarch's entries in the massively popular Call Of Duty series are often accused of being inferior to those of Infinity Ward, their addition of zombies to the series was a masterstroke and deserving of applause. Simple and effective, World At War€™s Nazi Zombies mode when played with four players manages to replicate the fear and chaos of the best zombie films more so than any other game on this list. With mechanics like barricading windows, there€™s a real Night Of The Living Dead style feeling of claustrophobia and nihilism thanks to the fact that there's no escape. Whatever you do and no matter how good you are, at some point you€™re going to die. But the appeal of seeing how well you and your friends can survive the waves of zombies means that the mode is utterly addictive, rewarding teamwork and strong communication. There's also lots of fun to be had with the random weapon boxes which hand out a chosen weapon to players in exchange for points. It's always amusing to see what players end up with, from weapons like the lethal sci-fi Ray Gun to the explosive but mostly ineffective Panzershrek.

Dead Rising 2 (2010)

CapcomPC/PS3/Xbox 360 2006€™s Dead Rising let players loose in a zombie infested shopping mall blatantly inspired by Dawn Of The Dead. In fact it was so similar to George A Romero€™s zombie masterpiece that it found itself at the centre of legal issues with the films producers. As good as the game was for fans of the film, it was also marred by inconsistent difficulty spikes, a poor save system and some frustrating boss battles. Last years sequel Dead Rising 2 fixed most of these issues, managing to be better than its predecessor without drastically changing the mechanics or overall experience. While some were sad to see Frank West and his ability to take photographs removed, the new star Chuck Greene brought the ability to customise and create combination weapons. These improvised weapons are not only powerful against mass amounts of zombies but also often hilarious - ranging from simple combos like kitchen knives strapped to boxing gloves, to a sonic guitar that explodes heads with a single riff.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors (1993)

LucasArts/KonamiSNES/Mega Drive Inspiring a host of top-down zombie shooters such as Dead Nation and the upcoming All Zombies Must Die,Zombies Ate My Neighbours was a two player journey through a suburban America under attack from not only zombies but warewolves, vampires, aliens and other monsters. Even with its tongue in cheek humour and cartoony visuals the game came under critisim for its violence and was subject to imposed censorship from Nintendo, changing the blood from red to purple and removing some of the more vicious weapons like chainsaws Despite being almost 20 years old, plans are underway for a film version to be produced, although it€™s hard to say exactly how any film can replicate the pure 90s charm of the original video game.

Resident Evil 2 (1998)

CapcomPC/PSX/DC/N64 Capcom€™s popular horror series might have successfully reinvented itself with an action orientated Resident Evil 5, but the scarier early titles are still the best. Playing as either Leon.S.Kennedy or Clare Redfield, Resident Evil 2 followed on from the events of the first game, with gameplay expanded from the claustrophobic corridors of its sinister mansion, to the large open areas of Raccoon City. As well as warding off the swarms of zombies, the game features frustrating puzzles (damn you police statues !) and limited ammo, making encounters with groups of zombies requiring a more tactical approach. Above everything else, Resident Evil 2 is still pant-wettingly scary. The somewhat clunky controls and awkward movement along with some erratic camera angles make zombie encounters even more daunting than they already are. If anyone tells you they didn€™t jump out of their skin when the first licker jumps through the two-way mirror, they are lying€.

Plants Vs. Zombies (2009)

PopCapPC/Mac/iOS/XBLA/PSN PopCap€™s successful defense game is an incredibly strange mix of zombies and gardening. While there€™s no flesh eating zombies here or even brutal weaponry (you fire seeds rather than bullets) Plants Vs. Zombies is fiendishly addictive and totally different from any other zombie game you€™ll ever play. Strategy rather than violence is required to defeat these shambling 'braaaains' craving zombies, by tactically placing your plants to utilise their different powers. Somehow with its cute colourful visuals and seemingly simplistic nature, Plants Vs. Zombies still manages to makes zombie slaying satisfying - all without a single drop of blood or disemboweled corpse. For those who like their zombie games a little more on the agricultural side, this is the one for you.

Dead Island (2011)

TechlandPC/PS3/Xbox 360Dead Island, despite its general lack of polish, is perhaps the zombie game many of us have been waiting for. With its mix of Fallout style RPG elements and a focus on realistic melee combat, the game is one of the few on this list to provoke a genuine sense of danger, with a constant need to survive and adapt. Whereas most video game zombies are easily killed, Dead Island€™s realistic and brutal combat requires both skill, timing and a constant eye on the condition of weaponry. All of this is playable with up to three friends too, with a co-op mode which takes the group survival concept of Left 4 Dead to its extreme, with the entire island of Banoi free to explore. I€™ve barely scraped the surface of Dead Island€™s stunning tropical open-world full of side missions and collectables, but I€™m all ready utterly addicted. It deserves particular praise for being one of the few zombie games to be consistently frightening - even with such an idyllic setting. When you are wandering through the island with a broken boat paddle and you suddenly hear a group of zombies behind you, Dead Island will turn even the most hardened zombie slayer into a fleeing sissy. ___________ Click here for our full review of Dead IslandWhat are your favourite zombie based video games ?Disagree with any of the entries ?
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Cult horror enthusiast and obsessive videogame fanatic. Stephen considers Jaws to be the single greatest film of all-time and is still pining over the demise of Sega's Dreamcast. As well regularly writing articles for WhatCulture, Stephen also contributes reviews and features to Ginx TV.