5. Resident Evil
The Resident Evil series is rightfully the most famous horror series. While the third person controls and fixed camera angles of the early releases are difficult to get used to, they allow the game to decide what the player can and can not see and that makes for some terrifying surprises. Want to find out what's just around the corner making that horrifying gnawing sound? Too bad. You'll just have to round the corner and hope for the best. The limited inventory space and no "looting" system means you have to conserve ammo and make every shot count, and the puzzles provide a nice break from violent zombie shootouts. Resident Evil is like a f**ked up Myst that lets you use a shotgun. Genius.
4. They Hunger
They Hunger may not be the most original premise for a horror game out there, but it deserves a place in the gaming hall of fame as the first Half-life modification to feature battles against zombie cows. Undead bovine, people! Broken up into three downloadable chapters, the "They Hunger" trilogy offers gamers a chance to roam practically every cliche horror setting, from a town under zombie siege to a mad scientist's lab to an abandoned hospital. The game is also unique for peppering some Evil-Dead-style humor amidst the gore and monsters. A zombie disc jockey who takes over the local radio station and exhorts the undead listeners to hunt your player down while playing some tunes about cannibalism was a memorable highlight. Also, like the best horror movies, this one ends with a chain-gun helicopter battle and a nuclear blast. Scary stuff.
3. Left 4 Dead
A great multiplayer game with practically no learning curve, L4D combines humor and mass zombie destruction with a strong element of team work. Sure, Resident Evil might have you boost a friend through some air vents, but Left 4 Dead makes you depend on teammates with your life. Wander away from your teammates for just a little while and your bound to be pinned down by a hunter or tied up by a smoker. Stick with your partners and you'll be happier for it. Until one of them wakes up the witch.
2. Dead Rising
A sandbox game with zombies was an extremely exciting prospect, and the good people at Capcom did not disappoint. Besides having fun missions, player freedom, and a smorgasbord of weapons, Dead Rising had perhaps the greatest setting ever for a zombie game: A shopping mall. What better place to allow players to be creative with their undead slaughtering? Say what you want about the obnoxious transceiver problems, Dead Rising is the only game that lets you fight off zombies with soccer balls while wearing hot pants.
1. Resident Evil 2
RE2 is arguably the best Resident Evil game, which makes it arguably the best zombie game. It has better graphics and more zombies than the original, all while maintaining the brilliant control scheme that makes the series unique. Most importantly, it's fun. Starting the game with a car crash and battling hordes of flaming zombies is a far cry from the original's " let's investigate that loud noise." And though the cutscenes and dialogue are anything but brilliant, they're a monumental improvement over the original's live action opening.
Special thanks to Alex Rogers.