Geekitorial: Are Zombies The New Nazis?

Welcome to another Geekatorial.  This where Larry and the bracket bound Evil Larry (Sup!) rant about whatever topics we feel like complain and/or debate about. (god Bless the Internet)

Let’s get to it.

Are Zombies the New Nazis?

Zombies: They seem to be unstoppable.  They are a never-ending source of pain, suffering, death and geek affection.  They bombard our comics, our movies, our TV shows and even advertising for skin cream (That could just be Ellen DeGeneres) but the undead horde seems to appear in video games more than anywhere else.

Geeks love Zombies.

I don’t get it.

Zombies don’t have charisma like Space cowboys-Captains, they aren’t built on the idea of sexual conquest like vampires, they aren’t strong and muscle bound (and contractually obligated to remove their shirts) like werewolves.  They don’t even have interesting powers like Superman or even anything remotely similar to a personality to differentiate one from the next.  They are just lifeless husks that march across the world causing destruction (Just like the Goons).

Why do they find them interesting?

Now I am not a zombie hater (a Zater as it was), I respect a good zombie story, I love a good zombie game, but I am not obsessed with them as much as most geeks are.  I swear Geeks love Zombie almost as much as Bacon.  (God help them if Bacon-Zombies attack).  Geeks also love video games.  So it only makes sense to combine the two but that is where the trouble begins.

Zombie swarm the video games like…..well I guess using zombie as its own examples is just counter-productive so …. like mini-games to the Wii. (Or a fat kid on a twinky)

They are everywhere but Zombies don’t make games good.  Games make zombies good.

If all Zombie games were like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, or even Plants vs Zombies then this wouldn’t be a problem.  Sadly they are not.

Instead we get a DS touch-to-rekill on-rails game called Touch the Dead, a Zombie driver game called….Zombie Driver (not even a cleaver name), the Lemmings rip off with Zombies called Zombie Wrangler and worst of all a zombie-guitar game called Rock the Dead (Really Neil Patrick Harris? Really?) .  What makes it even worse is Zombies are appearing in games that don’t need it.  Are you done with Black Ops or World at War?  How about a zombie mode?  Want another duel-stick shooter like Geometry Wars?  How about one with Zombies?  Did you love that epic hardcore western game we spent months making?  You did!?!?!  How about we add some zombies?

I enjoy a good Zombie game but the topic is becoming boring and over saturated.  This mean that although there are good zombies games out there, original ones that push the limits of what can and cannot be done in games, you cannot find them because they become lost beneath masses of the Zombie Game Horde.

Sound familiar?  It’s happened before.

In the year 2000 (I love saying it that) the gaming world changed.  Saving Private Ryan had come out two years earlier and with it success Steven Spielberg decided to take his brand of WWII and combine it with the video game world; this lead to the creation of Spielberg’s Medal of Honor series.  The first two (Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor” Underground) were exceptional games that were a success but the series was truly launched into stardom at the turn of the millennium with the release of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for the PC.

Suddenly Nazis were everywhere.  They were in France and Germany, they were on PC and consol, they were battle in a war and summoning the occult.  To be honest…we enjoyed killing them (Some more than others….should I get that looked at?) and we did it in more ways than just aiming down a barrel in a FPS.  We killed them in squad based RTSs, we fed on them in Vampire slaughtering simulators (Man BloodRayne was hot), we fought Hitler as the final boss with our demon powers in JRPGS (Fricken Persona 2), and we even punched and whipped them while wearing brown fedoras (Oh Dr. Jones – swoon).

It seemed like every other game had Nazi’s.  According to GiantBomb.com during the period of 1998 – 2010 there were over 109 games featuring Nazis (and that doesn’t include XBLA, PSN, or WiiWare).  It was safe to say the Nazi bubble popped.

So what happened?  Did killing Nazi’s stop being fun? (Never!!)  Nope.  It will never happen.  Killing Nazi’s will always be fun.  (Wait did we just agree on something?  Weird)  But in order to remember what something is fun; you have to stop doing it for a while.  If all you ever do is kill Nazi’s all day every day, it get boring real quick.

So Nazi’s went away for a while and the video game world changed again.  War shooters like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty began to shift their narrative.  We saw different angles of the war, such as fighting the Japanese, the battles that took place in the Vietnam war, a couple of Cold War based shooters and eventually our Battlefields, MoHs and CODs made it to modern warfare focusing on real life events such as Afghanistan and the war against terrorism, fictitious, but still plausible, wars between Russians and the Americans and even combat taking place in the very near future.

I don’t believe we are ready for another wave of Nazi games just yet but we are getting there and when the inevitable day comes when Nazi-killing games return we’ll be happy to have them back because slaughtering Nazi’s is always fun.

So have Zombies become the new Nazi’s?

In short answer yes.  There are too many Zombies games out in the world. (Personally I think that when a regular game gets bitten by a Zombie it becomes infected – hence how Zombie games are made).  Some game developers have already seen this.  Resident Evil 4 director Shinji Mikami made the wise decision to slowly steer his game series away from the zombies, at least for the time being.  His new creatures are zombie-esq but are different enough to break free of the stigma.  Dead Space is another perfect example of what could have just been a simple Space Zombie shooter but instead they took the Zombie template, ripped it apart, added disposable limbs and made something good, something scary, and best of all something new.

So I say this to game developers.  Leave the dead where they are.  Stop making zombie games because fans tell you they like zombies and want them in everything.  It’s not up to us to tell you what should be in a game; it’s up to you to shows us what works.  It’s up to you find that new things and make it cool.

Killing Nazis and killing zombies will never stop being fun but we need to learn, or relearn, how to kill something new.  How about a dinosaur?  I haven’t killed a dinosaur in like forever.

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