There are and have been clearly a lot of options out there over the years for people looking to fight the undead in their spare time. Off the top of my head, you have the Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Rising series, Dead Island, DayZ and the upcoming WarZ. While each of these games vary in tone, realism, and gameplay, the one thing they all have in common is that you are trying to survive after the outbreak has occured. That is to say, a handful of survivors wandering a post-apocalyptic landscape scrounging for survival gear and avoiding zombies and psychotic “normals”.
What I’d like to see is a game that captures the transition from “normal” to “everything has gone to shit”. The battle against the zombies instead of the last remnents of humanity wandering through the aftermath. Most of those games only provide that as a prelude to the actual gameplay.
One example of the sort of gameplay mechanics I’m thinking of was in the old XCom game from the 90s. You had that one type of alien that when it touched a civilian or one of your team, they would turn into another alien. So basically you would be down 2 men and probably have a dangerous alien in close proximity to the rest of your team.
For reference, I’m thinking of the gradual build-up in films like Dawn of the Dead, Planet Terror, The Crazies, even Outbreak and other “plague” films. Basically something that captures the fun and excitement of watching your well planned anti-zombie protocols go to shit because some idiot got bit and didn’t tell anyone.
Zombie Panic isn’t a full AAA game with cinematics and stuff, it won’t feel like you’re in a zombie movie, but it does have the gameplay you were talking about - one player starts as a zombie and everyone else bands together as a human, but as the zombie kills people, they become zombies and eventually the surviving humans get overwhelmed.
A random map with cities and towns of varying population sizes.
When the game starts, you (the player) have a small amount of $, and no real infrastructure - maybe a construction battalion or something. The zombies start off with an outbreak in some city or town at some minimum distance from you. Zombies move at a fixed rate, and multiply in proportion to population in an area- they multiply like hell in cities, and slower in the countryside.
Then, it’s a race against the clock for you to build up your infrastructure and forces to fight off the zombies before they overwhelm you. Your resources go down as cities are depopulated, and fleeing refugees will disadvantage nearby cities as well.
Basically the game design trick would be to balance the zombie movement and multiplication against resources and building.
As a player, you’d have to have a pretty good strategy to fight the zombies off and reconquer.
Still too early to tell, but at least some of your hopes may be addressed by The Last Of Us. Word is that you won’t only be killing zombies, but having to deal with other hostile survivors as well. Extended demo.
I unfortunately can’t recall the name, but I played a demo of something a bit like this a while back. The interface was a bit abstract. You had a general top view of the city you were trying to defend, with colored dots showing where the various forces. I think you could zoom in for more detail. If I remember rightly, you’d need to send your forces to kill off the infected ones before they spread, and I recall something involving helicopters to rescue or maybe drop in troops.
Anyone know what I’m talking about there?
There’s also a game a little like that, called Shattered Colony : The Survivors . It’s a Flash game that’s a bit more of the ‘fight back’ style and a mix of RTS & tower defense. You usually start with a small safe group, and have to expand out to collect defensive material and ammo, and also rescue survivors from buildings without triggering the zombies to attack. Periodically waves will come into town on bridges; the usual goal on a map is to blow the bridges and then clear out any remaining zombies.
That’s the one. Though I think I also conflated it with Zombie Outbreak Simulator (not really a game; it overlays zombies and more on a Google Map).
Might be worth checking out, bump. I recall that there wasn’t much in the way of resource production, at least not in the demo.
Another Flash game you might like is Rebuild (not long ago also released for iPad, I think). In that one you manage a group of survivors that each have special skills as you try to grow the safe territory. Different properties provide different benefits. It has its flaws but it is pretty fun.