Thursday, June 28, 2007


It's been a pretty zombie-tastic couple of weeks.

Two Fridays ago, we went over to friend David's house for games. He busted out Mall of Horror, in which the players control teams of (soon to be ex-) survivors in a zombie-infested mall. I'd never heard of it before, but it was a blast. I have great respect for any game where the accepted strategy is to betray your friends, but just a little bit. It explains my love for Citadels, I guess.

Before leaving, we mentioned that we hadn't seen the remake of Dawn of the Dead, which is apparently blasphemy in survival-horror fan circles. David loaned us his DVD copy after removing it from its locked, reinforced, booby-trapped titanium case, and we absolutely loved it. It's pretty grizzly, but they didn't go over the top with the seriousness; there's just enough camp to keep things fun.

Hillary heard that Shaun of the Dead was quality cinema, so we grabbed it from Netflix a few days later. I was very impressed; I expected a Scary Movie-style spoof of horror movies, but it really was a quality zombie flick with just enough humor to keep it fun. When I saw the previews for the recent "Hot Fuzz" (made by the same guys as Shaun of the Dead), I wrote it off as being another terrible spoof movie. Now I'm eagerly awaiting the DVD release.

With all the zombie action, I was inspired to pick up Dead Rising for the Xbox 360. At first, the game was horribly frustrating. Weapons and health items are few and far between, and you can take very few hits from the horde of zombies shambling around the mall. After failing the first couple of storyline missions a few times, I was ready to put it on the shelf forever. I'm very happy I stuck with it, because once you learn some weapon locations and "level up" a few times, it's a hell of a lot of fun. The number of ways you can destroy zombies is just stupid, and other than the aforementioned first couple of boss fights, the "psychopath" encounters are all really fun.

The initial problem I had with Dead Rising (aside than its admittedly terrible savepoint system) stemmed from the manner in which I normally play games. I'm a die-hard completionist, so when I dive into a new game, I try to see and do everything.

Dead Rising is different. This is a zombie apocalypse. Not everyone is going to make it. In fact, if you're trying to finish the main storyline, it's virtually impossible to save everybody. While leading a band of survivors toward safety, I came across a woman who had holed up in a jewelry store and was suffering from a broken leg. Being low on health and almost out of ammo, I left her to her fate. If I had babysat (or even carried) her all the way back to the security station, all of us probably would have died. Once I became comfortable with making these kind of sacrifices, the game really "clicked" for me.

After these two weeks of "cultural immersion", I now feel sufficiently prepared for a zombie holocaust. When the walking dead come for me, I'll be ready to rock.