Tag Archive for undead

The Walking Dead: Season 1

A couple weeks ago, the season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead aired.

Overall, I am very pleased with it.  Who am I kidding?  This was just awesome!  It is the epitome of everything I love about the zombie genre.

First off, it isn’t about the zombies.  Frankly, I hate movies or shows where people try to protect the zombies (or love them) or where the undead are just not living but go around talking and stuff.  Here, zombies are used the way I feel they are best used, as a setting.

The only real complaint that I have about the show is a similar complaint I seem to have with many movies and TV shows these days: poor communication of time passage.  When you sharply cut from one scene to the next, my brain assumes that either these events are happening at the same time, in succession or that one is shortly after the one preceding it.  If you have a character say, “I’ll go do this.” and then sharp cut to a scene taking place in the same setting as the previous one and the guy who said he was leaving is still there, my brain assumes he has not left yet.  The Walking Dead did this once only it was supposed to be that the guy had gone and come back and a couple of hours had passed.

That issue aside, The Walking Dead on AMC was just fantastic.  I look forward to owning this on DVD or Blu-Ray, and to seeing season two next fall.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

The Nightmare is nearly over

WARNING: This post is going to contain spoilers for both Red Dead Redemption and the Undead Nightmare DLC.  Continue at your own risk…

I really enjoyed playing Red Dead Redemption.  The world was really well crafted, and the story of the game was top notch.  I had issues with the game play, or more specifically the game controls, a few times, but it was minor complaints that were far overshadowed by the awesomeness of the rest.  The game even threw me for a loop when (and I’ve already warned you about spoilers, but here is a second warning – stop reading if you don’t want spoilers … ) John Marston died saving his family and then the game picked up a few years later with you playing his son.  One of the biggest complaints I heard about the game from many people is that they didn’t want to play the son, they wanted to keep playing John.  For me, however, it made playing John special.  I can only be him for the duration of the game.  I can’t play him in multi-player, and I can’t play him in the sandbox world that extends after the story is done.  Despite Jack Marston having a few annoying phrases he seems to repeat endlessly, I don’t mind playing as Jack, trying to carry on his father’s name and keep it clean to honor his memory.

Then along comes Undead Nightmare.  This DLC is single player and it puts you back into John Marston.  The story is set after John has gone home to be with his family, but before the government men have him killed.  A zombie plague has fallen across the land, his wife and son have both been bitten and turned, and John sets off to find a cure.  Much like the original game, the story here is extremely well done.  You meet most of the characters from the original game in this new twisted reality and it just works (unless you are the sort of person who simply cannot stand to have zombies in your westerns).  Once you complete the story and set everything back right, John is back where he needs to be to complete the story, as if this whole thing were a true nightmare and it never happened… well, almost.  Because they put in challenges that you might not complete before finishing the story, they decided to do like the original game and allow you to continue playing in the sandbox.  You get a cut scene that explains how a few years later, someone triggers the undead plague again and John Marston rises from the grave, retaining his soul because of a thing you did during the original nightmare.  This is where the game loses me…

In pretty much all my forays into things dealing with the undead, one bit remains constant: I do not want to be a zombie.  As much as I love zombies as a setting and zombies as monsters, I despise zombies as main characters.  And while I found Jack’s whining in the original game to be irritating, Zombie John’s groaning and other noises make me want to play with the sound off.  I hate it.  I really, really hate it.  Zombie John practically ruins the game for me.  I still want to play, do the challenges and whatnot, but I’d really prefer to not do it as a member of the undead.

Anyway, unlike the original game, which I still mess around with now and then, once I’m done with the last couple challenges I doubt I’ll ever fire up single player Undead Nightmare again.  Multi-player, on the other hand… I might be playing this forever…

A Week of Tweets on 2010-10-31

  • Yippee Ki-Yay, Mr. Falcon. #
  • I'm sitting at work, doing my job, but thinking about getting home to play Minecraft. So addicting. #
  • I week remains until NaNoWriMo… need to get my shit together… #
  • @Scopique As a F2P it means I'll actually try it. in reply to Scopique #
  • @Critus Hopefully not an omen. in reply to Critus #
  • For the first time in weeks I'm not itching to get home and play Minecraft… RDR: Undead Nightmare is out! #
  • How many times do I have to turn of Lexulous' turn email notification off before it stops sending me emails? I'm over 20 so far… #
  • @Krystalle I'm still Minecrafting, and waiting for the Halloween update. Dead Rising 2, Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare DLC… in reply to Krystalle #
  • @Critus Don't know what you are talking about… *goes back to playing Left 4 Dead 2* in reply to Critus #
  • @lexulous They come from a facebookappmail.com account, but are signed "The Lexulous Team". There is a link to disable emails, they are. in reply to lexulous #
  • Nice! http://sears.com/Zombies #
  • @sera_brennan Congrats on the new job! #
  • Dumping an HTML formated report into a spreadsheet is not a data export. What it is is useless! #
  • Dragon*Con needs to set up a room with this. http://artemis.eochu.com/ #
  • I finally know what I'm doing if I win the lottery. http://www.castle-forsale.com/ #
  • @Krystalle That page is distracting me today. I keep taking breaks from work to look at the photos and daydream… in reply to Krystalle #
  • @jehuthehunt That's much better than the flying car with the folding wings. in reply to jehuthehunt #
  • Due Date screening tonight. (@ Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station Stadium 16 Theatre) http://4sq.com/3eNDxk #
  • After yesterday's drooling over that castle, from now on I will refer to the Lottery as "Castle Money". #
  • I'm thinking of leaving my NaNoWriMo region not because I moved but because at some point they decided to call us "Pandas". #
  • Run Like Hell, finished, 53 minutes flat. (@ Oakland Cemetery w/ 9 others) http://4sq.com/4Ack5R #
  • Google, once again you punish me for keeping a clean inbox. Just because I always delete them does not make them junk. Please stop. #
  • Happy Halloween! #

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Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse

Atlanta Zombie ApocalypseIn recent years I’ve been reluctant to go to haunted houses because, frankly, most of them suck. The majority of them have “no contact” policies, and they constantly remind you that you will not be touched. So you wander through a bunch of scenes inspired by horror films and every once in a while someone will jump out and try to scare you, predictably at certain corners. I’ve enjoyed the Netherworld Haunted House before for its design and artistry, but since it is so popular the trip through is usually like driving in rush hour traffic. Lots of stop and go movement, and sadly you get lots of people pulling out cell phones to text or use as a flashlight.

This year, however, I went to the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse.  It was great.

The first thing I liked about this place is that they broke the line up into groups of around eight to twelve people.  We waited in lanes for our group’s turn to go.  Once it was your group’s turn, you got pulled ahead and the situation was explained.  The military has been fighting the undead for days and are losing.  Survivors are being rounded up and escorted to a safe zone.  Your group will have two escorts, one in front and one bringing up the rear.  They don’t have enough guns to give you any, but they promise to protect you.  You get a quick run down of safety procedures and then you are off.

The path takes you through a couple buildings and an outdoor expanse (where you have to jog/run to keep up as it is dangerous out there) and back through a couple more buildings.  The design of this haunted house, with the military escorts, actually solves one my major issues with haunted houses: no contact.  Yes, the zombies still don’t touch you, but here it is plausibly explained by your military escorts and other random people shooting the zombies.  They still jump out at you, and they can still get a rise out of you, but then they are put down before they can actually get you.

In my opinion, the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse is worth the price of admission ($20).  Well, the haunted house part anyway… the zombie shoot where you get to shoot paint balls at zombies was kinda lame.  $10 for 20 paint balls to shoot at guys wearing protective head gear, eh… lame.  But go for the haunted house.  Since this in their first year, if they return, I can only see it getting better.

A Week of Tweets on 2010-10-03

Red Undead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption: Undead NightmareToday’s Zombie Wednesdays post was going to be about my initial impressions of Dead Rising 2, however due to a slew of free movie screenings this week I might not actually get to play it until Friday.  Instead, I bring you the artwork for Red Dead Redemption’s upcoming Undead Nightmare DLC.

Now, some people are upset at this because they feel that it detracts from the realistic feel of the original game.  That the supernatural has no place in the world crafted by RDR.  Then again, no one is forcing them to buy and play this expansion.  I can see why they might be upset since Rockstar is “wasting their time making crap like this” or whatever, just like people get pissed when Harmonix releases another batch of DLC songs they don’t care about.  Get over it.

Personally, I can’t wait.  Zombies in the Old West?  Yes, please!  And this time the bulk of (or all of) the DLC is single player, so I don’t have to rely on finding random people to play with when I want to play.  I look forward to the new missions and retouched world with an undead flavor.  Squeee!

There is supposed to be a trailer available on Thursday, so look for it.  The only question is… will I have to go up against zombie John Marston?

Zombie Economics

You know, it isn’t often you hear the shambling masses of the living dead used in economic theory.  But Nicoholas Colas, ConvergEx chief market strategist, is not afraid to invoke the word zombie.  The best part is that he continues through with the analogy, covering the spread of infection and the inevitable need to close the door on someone outside calling for help surrounded by the undead.  I don’t normally talk politics on this blog, but this particular item leaped out at me (for obvious reasons).

It is a harsh thing to think about, letting the economy of an entire country fail, but I think sometimes we are better off air dropping supplies or tossing them over the wall instead of entangling and dragging everyone down.  There is a point where the financial end of government needs to step away and let charitable and private organizations step in to help the survivors get back up on their own feet.

Friends Through The End

This month’s Gamer Banter topic didn’t inspire me.  It was “Which game character do you identify yourself with most/least and why?” and I spent time thinking about it and the simple fact is that I don’t really even identify with video game characters at all.  Sure, I like to follow along the story, and I might be immersed for the duration, but it rarely lingers.  The characters that stick are the ones I create in MMOs.  Even now, years after cancelling my EQ account, I still think about Ishiro Takagi, my human agnostic monk from Qeynos.

But after firing off an email to the Gamer Banter coordinator about how I wasn’t inspired to participate, I thought of a new angle on the topic.

The closest I even came to identifying with a character was Gordon Freeman in the Half-Life series.  The reason was because Gordon is a shell in which I sit while I play.  Gordon never speaks, and the game never has a 3rd person view cut scene.  I am Gordon at all times.  This makes Gordon more like my MMO characters than your traditional video game character because he has no personality unless I give it to him.

Thinking along this line, I drifted to a couple other games by Valve: Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2.  Here, we don’t have Gordon-like shells.  The four survivors in each game quip and banter, they call for help.  Even when I play one, I’m not them, I’m just controlling them.  However, because the game is light on cut scenes and outside the quips and banter the characters are player or AI controlled and not just standing around, these games have given me a group of friends to survive the zombie apocalypse with.  And through them and their banter, I care about them.  Ellis has told me so many stories about his buddy Keith that I want to know if Keith is out there surviving the onslaught of the undead too.  (I secretly pray that Keith is one of the survivors in the inevitable Left 4 Dead 3.)  In fact, since most of the time I play with my friends, the survivors are my friends.

These eight characters have come to define my view of zombie Armageddon.  When the day comes, I want these people, or at least people like them, by my side.  Even when I’m playing solo, I find myself rushing to their aid, not just to keep them alive but because I don’t want them to die.  A subtle distinction, but an important one.  Even when playing solo, I find myself talking to the other survivors, asking them what the hell they are doing, telling them to hurry up, even reminding them to cover me.  It’s almost a little unnerving to realize that I do that, but there it is.

So yeah, the truth is that most of the time I don’t identify with characters, but in Valve’s Left 4 Dead series, they’ve added just enough to the shell I (and my friends, and the AI) inhabit to evoke a response.

This post was part of Gamer Banter, a monthly video game discussion coordinated by Terry at Game Couch. If you’re interested in being part, please email him for details.

Other Gamer Banter participants:
Pioneer Project: The importance of character creation
Silvercublogger: Will Sing Opera For Italian Food
Game Couch: Gabriel Knight
Extra Guy: Who I Identify With
Next Jen: I’d Rather Be Me
carocat.co.uk: A rushed love letter

Undead Labs

One thing I will be keeping my eye on is Undead Labs.  They plan to make a console based zombie themed MMO.  If they succeed and it is fun to play, I’ll be a subscriber forever.

Last week, Ravious over at Kill Ten Rats posted an interview with Jeff Strain that is worth reading if you are into that sort of thing.

Zombie Driver

Thanks to Rock, Paper, Shotgun I now have another zombie game to look forward to: Zombie Driver.  Think the original GTA but with zombies.  Here is some game footage.

Now I just hope they release this on the Xbox 360.