With Mayan-predicted apocalypse just round the corner it’s time to huddle with your loved ones and await whatever catastrophic event is going to wipe the human race from the face of the planet. In the meantime however, why not take a few minutes to read about some entertaining post-apocalyptic scenarios from the gaming world.
We hope they bring you some comfort as the world collapses around you, planes fall from the sky, and the rivers of the world run red with blood. Or, you know… while literally nothing of note happens:
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Format: N64 (now available via Nintendo’s Virtual Console for Wii)
Arguably the most famous example of Armageddon comes via Nintendo’s epic Legend of Zelda series. Majora’s Mask pits Link against the Skull Kid who’s had the temerity to steal the titular mask, so causing the world of Termina to end in three short days as the moon threatens to crash into the planet. Thankfully for its people Link is on the case and soon equipped with the time-rewinding Deku pipes; but witnessing his struggle against the end remains one of gaming’s most sombre and accomplished feats of scripting.
Final Fantasy VI
Format: Super Nintendo (now available via Sony’s PSN for PS3/PS Vita and Nintendo’s Virtual Console for Wii)
What for many is still the best Final Fantasy game created is also one of the best examples of the what might happen during the end of days. Its world ending at the behest of the evil force of nature that is Kefka (think the Joker but entirely more ambitious). Don’t worry though, the game isn’t over by any means, but to reveal more would be to spoil one of gaming’s finest examples of storytelling.
Left 4 Dead
Format: Xbox 360, PC
Zombies! If the apocalypse pays attention to current cultural trends, then the end of days will almost certainly be triggered by flesh munching monsters springing out of their graves to devour the living. Zombies prey on our fear of death, and our worry of the oblivion that lies after death. Well, that and also our fear of being ripped to shreds and our brain feasted on of course. Valve’s Left 4 Dead perfectly captures a country in the midst of a zombie outbreak, and casts you as four of the unlikeliest heroes the gaming world has ever known.
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Having lived in bunkers below the Earth’s surface for 200 years following a nuclear holocaust, the human race – in the shape of your vault-dwelling survivor – steps blinking out into the hazy sun of a destroyed civilization. Full of interesting and funny characters, difficult choices, and mutated dogs that will rip your arms off as soon as look at you, Fallout 3 is about as enjoyable as a trudge through the ruins of the world can be. Throw in a fifties theme, and enough content to keep you playing well past the real apocalypse, and you’re definitely on to an Armageddon-focused winner.
The Walking Dead
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, iOS
More zombies! The Walking Dead point-and-click adventure has been the highlight of this year for many gamers; telling a taut, exciting and often harrowing tale about a group of people trying to survive in the face of a horrific undead apocalypse. It’s the story telling here that’s key, and the way the game makes you care about each of the unfortunate souls involved is a wonder to behold. If you haven’t played it then make sure you do while there’s still electricity.
Format: Xbox 360, PC
Another nuclear apocalypse, although this time in the not too distant future, Metro 2033 is part survival horror, part FPS, all Russian. You play as a man who was born in the subway tunnels under Moscow where most people now live. Above you stalk mutated Dark Ones, soldiers, Nazis, and all manner of other unpleasant beasties intent on eating your face. Tense and well paced, Metro 2033 is as haunted as it is violent. Expect the sequel, Metro: Last Light, to do something similar when it’s released next year.
The Last of Us
And yet more zombies (if you can call fungal-infected humans zombies). OK, so The Last of Us isn’t out yet, but promises a grimmer take on the end of the world than most. Taking its cues from the likes of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road to tell the story of a man leading a young girl through a world destroyed by plague. It’s not just the undead out to get them though, because the humans that are left aren’t to be trifled with either. With a gritty style and Naughty Dog’s cinematic flair, The Last of Us could become this generation’s definitive apocalypse simulator; so long as the human race survives until the second quarter of next year.
By Harry Slater