Behind the Online: Organize Before They Rise!
Weekly Column by Dave Bonnewell
(sung to the tune of the 'Adams Family Theme')
They're creepy and they're kooky.
Their house is a mausoleum
So get your zombie bash on
Allow me, if you will, a little of your time to pick your brain. Love them or hate them, zombies (in voodoo - the bodies of dead people given semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose) have become engraved not only into our psyche, but into our very entertainment sub culture as well. The sheer volume of books, games, and especially movies on the subject of zombies is testament to the frightfully loveable, nauseatingly charismatic, rotting, flesh 'n brain scoffing scoundrels' formidable effect on the world at large. I have my personal favorites in the categories of book, game, and movie, of course: Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, Night of the Living Dead (original 1968 version), and Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse.
With all that is available in the world on the theme of zombies, there remains at least one facet of our multimedia-verse (to coin a term) in which the appearance of our walking corpse friends has been largely deadened. The MMOG. Still, I did come across a simple, yet addictive zombie survival horror MMO which is absolutely free to play and which tens of thousands of people are currently inhabiting (I myself have recently been counted among them), yet so many more have never heard of. There is another such game in development which looks intriguing, and though not free, does make full use of 3D rendered graphics. If you are an avid MMO gamer who happens to also possess either a secret or unabashed fetish (no, not that kind of fetish) about those brain biting baddies, then you will agree that the two pop culture icons go together like chocolate and peanut butter, like Cheetos and Red Bull, and yes, even like those crazy Kazakhs Borat and Azamat. So, stick 'round guys and ghouls and learn a little more about a couple of MZOGs (Massively Zombified Online Games).
Urban Dead - www.urbandead.com
From the start, I found myself in the midst of a quarantined section of the fictional city of Malton dealing with the immediate aftermath of a zombie outbreak. New players can choose to begin their adventure as a full-blown zombie or a human striving to survive. Zombies possess natural defenses and strengths, while humans possess unique starting equipment and skills based on their class (Military, Science or Civilian). I like big boomsticks of zombie-kick-assedness, so I chose a military dude. I like to imagine him as a Vietnam vet marching around saying, "This is my rifle. This is my gun. This is for fighting. This is for fun. HOO-RAH!" Watch Full Metal Jacket sometime and you'll know what I'm talking about.
Though there are glaring differences between the sprinting alive and the shambling undead, there is often a unique sort of symbiosis concerning the two in Urban Dead. Humans, as it rightly should be, turn into zombies if they die. Likewise, zombies can be re-animated with syringes, and thus become human. Also, humans can use various weapons and tools, communicate with each other, barricade buildings for protection and move at twice the speed of their undead counterparts. On the other hand, zombies can easily come back to life - or "unlife" as it were - when put down, making them essentially immortal. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this MMO is that it's possible to switch sides during the human-zombie struggle and it's not and uncommon practice for human players to act as "zombie spies" by reporting on human positions and defenses to groups of zombie players.
Exanimus - www.exanimusthegame.com
I know I'll be keeping one eye on the development of this game, and the other on my front lawn. You never know when the dead will rise again and come for you! Brainzzz...
I'm Dave "Kawika" Bonnewell and that's the way I see it.