Well, it’s May 22, and I for one am a little disappointed with the apocalypse yesterday. Movies, books, comics and games have been telling us what the end would look like for decades, and now that it’s here, it’s pretty dull. So rather than admit that, maybe, Judgement Day didn’t occur yesterday, I’ll present my list of games with much more interesting post-apocalyptic worlds than ours.
Type of Apocalypse: Nuclear War
Set in a future that isn’t ours, stemming from a past that shares elements with ours, the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout is one of the most interesting worlds of any game.
Diverging from our reality after World War II¸ Fallout presents a world that contrasts the Atomic Age optimism about nuclear power with the cold-war fears of the 1950s. A nuclear war with China ends in 2077 with an atomic bombing that devastates much of the U.S. (no word on the rest of the world’s condition, but then America is the only place that ever seems to matter). Many residents retreated into the apparently safe havens of underground Vaults, but were subjected to various social experiments.
Playing as characters from various backgrounds through the series, the gameplay mostly involves wandering these post-apocalyptic wastelands, visiting towns, raiding ruins for supplies and helping (or hindering) various factions. As the frequently uttered saying goes, “war never changes”, and players will witness clashing factions, and can freely choose their allies. Mutated humans and animals stalk the wastelands, as do greedy raiders and other selfish clans. But for all the fighting and corruption, hope and humour can also be found readily, as the player witnesses many creative means of survival, and encounters some fascinating characters along the way.
Left 4 Dead
Type of Apocalypse: Zombie infestation
The zombie apocalypse genre is well represented in games, and it was hard to narrow it down to one ambassador. Resident Evil almost got the title, until it was decided that the extent of the damage in that series wasn’t quite of apocalyptic proportions; each game deals with one infected region.
Anyway, Left 4 Dead shows us a world where the majority of the human population have transformed into the brainless brain-eaters, and all but forces the four survivors to work together to navigate the path to safety. Teamwork isn’t merely encouraged; it’s essential, as it’s all too easy for a lone survivor to be pinned down by the horde of zombies or one of several species of Special Infected. The survivors must pass through many locations familiar to fans of zombie films, such as hospitals, subways, malls, shanty towns, sewers, airports, cemeteries and carnivals, all desolate and populated only by agile swarms of the undead.
A world overrun by zombies may seem like more fun than our current post-apocalyptic state. Just make sure your zombie survival plan is ready to go. Although personally, I’ve never understood how human teeth would be a threat to the sturdy human skull. Biting alone isn’t gonna get them any closer to the squishy cerebral goodness they crave, and they don’t seem smart enough to use tools.
Resistance: Fall of Man
Type of Apocalypse: Alien invasion
If sci-fi has taught us anything, it’s that the most likely form of global destruction will be alien bullies bringing the hurt to us under-prepared Earthlings.
Another alternate history game, Resistance explains the mysterious Tunguska explosion of 1908 as aliens hitching a ride on a meteorite, who then proceed to slowly envelope Russia and eventually Europe. These aliens, known as the Chimera, use a virus to turn humans into super-soldiers to fight against their own kind. Players take control of Sgt. Hale as he fights alongside the human resistance to rid Britain of the invaders.
The game features technology drawn from real tech of the time, as well as some futuristic versions of these technologies. The world it presents is a cold, ruined vision of Britain, with a strange mix of past and future. It’s not all bleak though, as hope and determination for the future are strong themes throughout.
Type of Apocalypse: Religious Armageddon
While the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse missed their supposed appointment yesterday, Darksiders shows us the consequences of them appearing too early. Unlike the other games in this list, the player is tied directly to the apocalypse; you control War, one of the Four Horsemen.
The Four Horsemen are cast as mediators in the battle between the armies of Heaven and Hell, and are to be sent to Earth during the final apocalyptic battle between them. When War is summoned, he realises the other Horsemen weren’t, and is accused of triggering the Apocalypse too early. In his defense, he vows to hunt down those responsible.
By the time War returns to Earth, the armies of Hell have taken over, and the human population has been killed off or zombified. Players roam the world on various missions, fighting demons and angels, and strangely, platforming.
The post-poc world shown here is probably not the kind you’d want to experience – you’re either dead or a zombie. Unless you’re War, who’s likely having a ball.
Type of Apocalypse: Natural Disaster
This is an interesting title, being a departure both from the others on this list, and the other games in the MotorStorm franchise.
An ongoing series of natural disasters has done little to deter revheads from racing around – if anything, it seems to have made the terrain more fun. The other games in this list task players with surviving, helping others or rebuilding society, but MotorStorm: Apocalypse cares not for such noble deeds. Just race.
Players race around a city that crumbles in real-time, as buildings collapse or drop debris onto the track, bridges buckle, chasms open up in front of you, and survivors impede your progress. It’s like Mario Kart, with the environment throwing shells and bananas at you.
This post-poc world could be fun, if you’re into cars. If not, it could still be a laugh to be one of the guys who get in the racers’ way, with their looting, fighting on the tracks, and stealing cars.