What do we want? Apocalypse. When do we want it? Now!

Rebecca Armstrong@RebeccaJ
Friday 19 March 2010 01:00

A rogue nuclear missile. An attack by alien life forms. Plague. Meteors, killer waves, angry volcanos. Ecological meltdown. There’s no end of possibilities when it comes to the end of the world – and we can’t get enough of speculating how it might occur, and what happens next.

From the recent, critically acclaimed adaptation of ‘The Road’ to ‘Mad Max’, cinema has always exploited our fears of – and fascination with – the apocalypse.

If possible, though, video games offer an even more potent vision of what happens at the end of days, because rather than just watching the fallout of a nuclear disaster, say (see the Chernobyl-based ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R’ shooters), you get to experience the deprivations of disaster, even if they’re virtual. The ‘Bioshock’, ‘Gears of War’, ‘Resistance’, ‘Fallout’ and ‘Left 4 Dead’ titles have all mined this rich seam of life after armageddon, in ways that can be every bit as thought-provoking as apocalyptic literature such as ‘Z forZachariah’, ‘When the Wind Blows’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘The Book of Dave’ and ‘Children of Men’.

Released this week, ‘Metro2033’ is a game based on the bestselling Russian novel of the same name, written by Dmitry Glukhovsky.When it comes to creating a chilling world laid waste by nuclear war, the game is second to none. The last humans have sought refuge underground, in the titular metro tunnels, to escape blood-thirsty mutants. Glukhovsky, who played a large part in helping to create the game, explains why the end of theworld is so potent an idea.

“Suddenly, the building where you live or the train you take to work become part of a huge, dangerous fairytale world that has to be conquered all over again,” he says. “That’s the most compelling part of a postapocalyptic world.” A believable dystopia frees us from societal mores, spooks us and, always important in gaming, means we can shoot as many mutants as we can catch. No wonder this genre keeps on giving.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments