Gimme 5 brings you a ‘Top Five’ of all things gaming. Our resident gaming goofball Adam Smith may not know when the next mahoosive meteor that will destroy the Earth is coming, but he does know a fair bit about video games. Of course, feel free to disagree; leave him a rant in the comets…I mean, comments.
The end of the world. End of days. The apocalypse. Call it what you like, but it’s coming one day to totally interrupt your Netflix binge…
Before we get to that somewhat unsavoury chapter of our existence, though, we may as well enjoy the entertaining possibilities that such devastation brings to the fore: enter the post-apocalyptic video game.
What the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it allows game developers to do is dream up deliciously dark and dreary landscapes and scenarios for us to endure and exploit, which has served up some seriously satisfying gameage over the years. With the recent outbreak of zombie fascination (and global fear tied to the possibility of a viral pandemic), these kinds of video games are appearing more and more frequently. But which ones are the real killers, the truly tremendous, the epitomes of annihilation?
Often when you think of ‘post-apocalyptic’ (as you invariably do whilst sat on the loo after a curry), the images conjured are ones of the undead rising up to lay the smackdown on the living. Sometimes, though, video games imagine a more unique spin on our darkest days. Take Tokyo Jungle, which is a fine example of post-apocalyptic exploration. We’ve been wiped out, us humanfolk, and now the animals are running the zoo. In this quirky adventure game, you play for survival as all sorts of beasts, which makes a refreshing change from saving screaming kids…
Another arguably post-apocalyptic outing comes in the guise of the Gears of War series, which sees mankind face-to-face with the Locust Horde. The world is royally screwed; this much is evident. But as it’s more of an all-out shoot ’em up, it doesn’t quite focus enough on the end of the world to make the top 5. Similarly, Borderlands offers an otherworldly vision of a planet’s downfall, but didn’t quite make the list. Enough speculation: let the end begin!
5 – Wasteland
Released – 1987
Platform – Apple II / DOS / Commodore 64
Genre – RPG
Did you know… After almost 30 years, Wasteland received a sequel which found its funding via a Kickstarter campaign last year, which is becoming quite the trend in this day and age.
Considered the original post-apocalyptic video game, Wasteland had it all: role-playing elements, decision-based story elements, and a world fizzled under the flames of a nuclear holocaust.
The game was text-heavy, as was the style at the time, but instead of cramming up programming space, the instruction manual was filled with possible encounters and conversations, allowing the in-game world to breathe and come to life. Though it hasn’t aged particularly well, the game became the inspiration for many of the others post-apocalyptic titles on this list; it deserves to be in the top five for this alone.
4 – The Walking Dead
Released – 2012
Platform – Various
Genre – Interactive drama
Did you know… After winning over 80 awards and receiving nothing but positivity from critic and player alike, a third ‘season’ of the gaming series is set for release in 2016. To fill the void, two virtual pinball tables based on the series will appear in Telltale Games’ upcoming pinballer title.
You’ve probably heard of the television series (fell asleep watching it, even). You may have read the comics, too. And the novels. Hell, you might even have the lunchbox, figurines, mug and matching coffee cosy. In an entertainment industry drowning in zombie innards, The Walking Dead has managed to come out the top dog, whether it’s your cup of mushed brains or not. Love it or hate it, though, the brilliance of the video game can’t be denied.
Bringing back the declining ‘adventure game’ mechanics of the mid-1990s, the game ensconces itself somewhere between the players’ hearts and handgun; it offers a riveting, heart-string-yanking story in a post-apocalyptic Georgia, but still brings the action. Unlike most of the entries in this Gimme 5, however, The Walking Dead focusses on the characters and story rather than on all-out action – and it’s welcome change. Even if you don’t watch the show, this is worth a look in.
3 – Left 4 Dead
Released – 2008
Platform – Xbox 360 / PC
Genre – First-person shooter
Did you know… In the video game Dead Rising, there are a total of 53,594 zombies inside the mall. Killing them all unlocks the achievement ‘Zombie Genocider’. As a nod to this, if you rack up a MIND-MELTING 53,595 kills in Left 4 Dead, you get the ‘Zombie Genocidest’ achievement. How droll…
A post-apocalyptic world is a lonely place for the most part, and this is reflected in the majority of post-apocalyptic gaming titles. To help remedy this loneliness, Turtle Rock and Valve gave you three friends to stand beside; to work with, survive with, be mutilated with, and to cry like a tiny child with. Thanks guys…
Blending multiplayer, survival elements, cooperative scenarios, and horde after horde of flesh-fancying freaks, the game may have lacked in the narrative department but more than made up for it in frantic fun and fear. Whether you want to face the end of the world together in the same room, or online with strangers all wearing headsets (and soiled underpants), Left 4 Dead reminds us that no post-apocalyptic world is complete without your pals bleeding and screaming on the ground beside you…
2 – The Last of Us
Released – 2013
Platform – Playstation 3 / Playstation 4
Genre – Action / Survival horror
Did you know… The exquisite soundtrack for The Last of Us was composed by two-time Academy Award winner, Gustavo Santaolalla. He’s the guy behind the soundtracks to Brokeback Mountain and Babel, to name but two of his accolades.
Just when a genre of video game seems to have reached its pinnacle and we expect little more than mediocre, middle-of-the-road rehashes, out explodes The Last of Us. As beautiful and tragic as any post-apocalyptic jolly you’re likely to experience, the game sees Joel and Ellie fighting not only for their own lives, but the lives of all of humanity as they struggle across country in hope of securing a cure for the cordyceps infection.
What puts this above the previous titles is not just the gameplay (which is stellar and terrifying), but the storytelling and visual artistry on display. Few games tick every box, but The Last of Us ticks, crosses, and embosses them all. Arguably a good enough reason alone to own a PS3 or PS4, even the DLC is worth the pricetag. Only one post-apocalyptic video game beats it to the boom…
1 – Fallout 3
Released – 2008
Platform – Xbox 360 / PC / Playstation 3
Genre – Action RPG
Did you know… Bethesda’s open-world games such as Fallout 3 are renowned for their myriad activities and side quests that litter the landscapes. One you may not know about in Fallout 3 is the ability to go cow-tipping. Go on…sneak-up to a Brahmin and hit ‘Activate’.
With the soon-to-be-unleashed Fallout 4 that was announced at this year’s E3, there was no better time to bask in the bewildering scope and story of Gimme 5‘s top choice: Fallout 3. Beginning as a baby and growing into a morally malleable adult, our hero is a blank canvas upon which we can splatter a paint of our choosing. Want to behave in the lawless post-apocalyptia? Groovy. Want to blow up some more of the planet? Sweet. Want to spend a hundred hours completing side quests before even debating furthering the actual main narrative? Step right this way…
Whether this is your favourite instalment of the ‘after-the-blast’ series or not, there’s no denying how perfect the portrayal of the wasteland is, and just how satisfying the whole experience of the game becomes the further into hell you journey.
Assuming the bomb doesn’t detonate, we’ll see you again soon for another Gimme 5!