Here are my top 5 zombie games of all time.

Number 5: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (1993, Sega Mega Drive)

2D Boy versus zombies

I never actually owned this game when I was a kid – but my friend did and that’s how I came to play it. It was the Mega Drive version and back then I was firmly rooted in 2D sides scrollers like Streets of Rage, Revenge Of Shinobi and Golden Axe, so playing something like ZAMN was a welcome change. The game had a lot going for it – the music and presentation were excellent, the number of levels was huge and each showed great creativity and freedom for exploration. Yet despite what the title may have you believe, zombies do not play a central role in the game – there are dozens of famous movie style creatures that share the limelight – but this variety is a welcome addition to the game.  The game has developed a cult following and it’s not surprising – it still holds its own today and is a prime candidate for a remake. Thing to try: drink the potion, turn into a monster and smash a new path through the level.

Number 4: Plants Vs Zombies (2009, PC)

Deceptively addictive gameplay

Everything about this game shines from the moment you start. What appears to be a simple game on the surface will quickly suck you in and hold you for hours at a time. When I started playing the only time I would stop was when I was sleeping or at work – when a game takes over you like this the only logical conclusion is to finish it as fast as possible so you can get your life back. There are a large variety of plants and zombies on offer, each with their strengths and weaknesses – all of which are balanced to perfection. The designer of this game did an amazing job – just as you finish up assembling your plant army the zombies trickle to a stop and the level ends – it’s satisfying yet frustrating at the same time as you wish it would just keep going. Thing to try: the Last Stand mini-game where you start with 5000 sun points and have to assemble your defences upfront before fending off five waves of zombies. Even when you eventually win the level you will not rest until you achieve the ‘perfect’ formation.

Number 3: Resident Evil 2 (1998, PlayStation)

Hordes of zombies

I had a great deal of excitement prior to the release of this game – and not least because of the TV commercials directed by George Romero. This was an absolute ‘day one’ purchase (for my dad) for me. This game pushed the franchise in all the right directions – it kept the familiar puzzle elements and key finding (some say slightly obscure considering the action takes place in a police station – something that never occurred to me at the time – and now that I see this…I don’t really care), it put more zombies on screen to blow in half, gave us another iconic creature in the licker and presented the developing back story over two discs with differing perspectives for each of the game’s protagonists. Several notable moments appear in the game – most memorable of which is probably the giant crocodile in the laboratory sewer. Towards the end of the game plant-type creatures are introduced, and while it’s a shame this angle wasn’t used more it doesn’t detract from an excellent game. Thing to try: complete the game a ridiculous number of times with an A grade in order to play the survivor mode as a piece of tofu.

Number 2: Left 4 Dead 2 (2009, PC)

Bonus point for Depeche Mode tee shirt on Rochelle

The first and second games in this series are equally good – but it wasn’t until L4D2 on the PC that I really got involved with online play. As a single player game Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 are distinctly average – it’s only when you get online do you really appreciate what these games have to offer. I have to say – I love playing as the special infected more than the humans and have on occasion ‘thrown’ a round so my team gets its ass kicked and we can play as the zombies again. To date I’ve clocked around 120+ hours on L4D2 and I think this is attributable to two things: as a casual drop-in, drop-out game its great – the rounds are short so you can jump right into a game and play as many rounds to fit the time you have available. Secondly – no matter how great a round you have it’s never perfect, you’re always left reeling that you didn’t get that survivor before he ran into the safe room or that you didn’t quite manage to escape on the last round. It’s this feeling of ‘next time I will be better’ that keeps me coming back again and again. Playing online is always a mixed bag of personalities – but it’s a win-win situation for me. When players work together and things click it gives me a buzz. On the other hand, when players start acting foolish it provides plenty of laughs. Thing to try: as the Charger, hide behind a closed door opposite an open window or ledge. As the survivor walks past charge at them and take them out the window/off the ledge and down to their instant death. Pulling this off is better than sex.

Number 1:  Resident Evil (1996, PlayStation)

First encounter with a zombie

I’ve played this game so many times I know it inside out. I remember the day my dad bought it in the Another World shop in town. I remember the school summer holidays of 96 that vanished as I would complete it multiple times each week – sometimes twice a day. And I remember the time I almost cried when, on a no-save quest, that Hunter outside the Magnum room popped out and took Jill’s head clean off. I’ve always been a fan of horror films, and Resident Evil was the first game that really had the opportunity, using the PlayStation hardware, to give players a meaningful representation of a film-like experience. And it delivered this experience in a way which is still rare to find even today. The creepy old mansion, shuffling flesh eaters, zombie dogs, giant spiders, a man-eating plant, a secret underground laboratory, backstabbing teammates, multiple endings, a sinister orchestrated soundtrack and the most amazing intro movie to any game, ever. Resident Evil ticks all the boxes and lives up to the type of experience you would want in a game that takes its inspiration from the films of George Romero. I own this game on three different consoles (PlayStation, GameCube and DS) and still find the 2-3 hours it takes to complete at least once every year. Thing to try: complete the game in under 3 hours with no saves to unlock the unlimited rocket launcher.

Itchy.

Tasty.