If In Doubt, Just Add Zombies
Are zombies becoming the go to answer for developers who are running out of gameplay ideas?
The revelation that Yakuza 5 (or Ryu ga Gotoku Of the End) will include zombies got me thinking about a blog I wrote earlier in the year about how Zombies were at least becoming if not had become a dead concept. The catalyst for this discussion was a series of adds for a rail network that warned commuters ‘Don’t Go Zombie’. If a massive corporation such as Virgin feels zombies were mainstream enough to advertise train travel then perhaps as a concept they had lost their bite.
Yakuza 5′s news from the latest issue of Famitsu, which will presumably be confirmed formally at TGS this week, really only confirms my worst fears that zombies have become the go-to solution for anyone running out of ideas. I don’t mean to put down Sega here, as I have the utmost respect for the Yakuza series, but seriously… zombies? I’m having some trouble getting my head around that one.
I could write it off as a ‘Japansese thing’. Something along the lines of, ‘Japanese developers just have a different concept of what’s serious and what isn’t', but I don’t think that’s it. The inclusion of Nazi Zombies in Call Of Duty: World At War (as mentioned in the last blog) is just one example of how the undead have become the butt of the joke rather than a genuinely innovative or frightening concept. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it seems to have opened the floodgates.
Now we have Blood Drive coming from Activision, which pits weaponised cars against streets full of zombies, we have zombies in space and in multiplayer thanks to Dead Space 2, even Scott Pilgrim Vs The World had a zombie score attack mode.
I guess the point I’m getting at is that I now find it hard to take any game with zombies in it, let alone one that has decided to add zombies, seriously. They feel cheap and throw-away to me now.
Yakuza 5 is going to have its work cut out convincing me this is a good idea. Perhaps the issue here is that I have the wrong impression of Yakuza. Perhaps Yakuza isn’t as serious a game as I took it for. If so, then this move towards the undead would be easier to stomach.
Image from Kotaku