games / Columns

Top 8 Virus-Related Games: Resident Evil 2, Days Gone, More

April 7, 2020 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Resident Evil 2

Welcome again to another edition of The 8 Ball! With the current pandemic going on, a list about games that prominently feature viruses would be pretty apt. This list isn’t really about the quality of gameplay in each game, more about the way the virus changes the world, or how relevant it is to the overall story. I haven’t played every game that has a virus, for example, A Plague Tale: Innocence, so this isn’t completely comprehensive, but you get the idea. Let’s begin:

#8: Days Gone

Days Gone is frankly a lesser The Last of Us, only instead escorting a young girl around, you’re escorting your motorcycle instead. While the general gameplay of Days Gone is fine, it goes on for way too long, as to drag it out so much, where it becomes a chore to actually finish. Having Biker McBikerface as the main character, or whatever stupid name he actually has, doesn’t help matters either. Still, I liked the world the game set up, with medical checkpoints and roadblocks set up for you to explore, and having different survivalist groups vying for your attention.

#7: Spider-Man

Most of the virus stuff in the game is relegated to the backburner. The game, initially, has a greater emphasis on Mister Negative and various low-level criminals. It’s not until sometime in the game when you discover the name of the virus, Devil’s Breath and that Mister Negative wants it. I love the twist later on that the virus was actually meant to be a cure for Harry, but it doesn’t work. That helps to humanize Norman a bit, which is something that most Spider-Man media doesn’t do. Also, the end of the game is good with the choice about who to give the cure to.

#6: Plague Inc

This game is pretty good but there are parts of it that are a tad goofy. Mainly the “popping DNA and research bubbles on the map” thing, which reminds me a lot of Plants vs. Zombies. Still, the game is a really good teaching tool for how viruses can mutate, how a virus can survive based on its origin country, how transportation can help speed a viruses travel, etc. It may not be the most realistic thing, but it still is a good educational thing for people to play.

#5: Vampyr

I imagine if I had played “A Plague Tale: Innocence” it might be on here instead, but I didn’t, so here we go. I really liked the plague-ridden world Vampyr sets up. There’s a very gloomy atmosphere, the hospital you’re at is stretched nearly to the breaking point, and the religious nut jobs are trying to burn everything that isn’t holy. So, kind of like the world today then, I guess. It’s also a great representation of a city on the decline due to the virus, with the streets dirty and empty, and everyone afraid of what is going on.

#4: Prototype

The thing I really dug about Prototype is the escalation of the virus. After certain story missions, NYC would get more messed up, eventually devolving to the streets being broken apart by hives of virus carriers and buildings just being on fire. Also, the more you progress through the story, the more you see the military response increasing due to the threat the BLACKLIGHT virus poses. I still think the second game is better playing, if more conventional, but this first game shows off the virus a bit better.

#3: Resident Evil 2

Really, MOST Resident Evil games could fit this bill. Except for maybe like RE7, which does have a virus, but it’s way more about psychological terror rather than dealing with zombies or the like. I’m picking Resident Evil 2 for three reasons. 1. I don’t have Resident Evil 3 to play, so I can’t judge that. 2. I’d argue that Resident Evil 2 is still probably the most iconic game in the franchise. And 3. I really like the initial setting of the game. It’s interesting that the place most people would flock to in a time of emergency, a police station, ends up being one of the most infected and dangerous parts in the city. That’s probably what would happen in real life as well.

#2: The Last of Us

This is probably what most people would associate with a game about viruses. The problem is that the actual outbreak only happens in the first ten to twenty minutes of the game, when Joel is trying to escape with his daughter. It’s a really great sequence but it doesn’t last too long. Then the game suddenly jumps ahead like 20 years later to show how society has changed, and largely collapsed. I think it’s a really great world they show, but so much of it is general aftermath. I wish there was just a tad more about the general collapse. Then again, given how The Last of Us 2 just got delayed, maybe we’re headed for that ourselves.

#1: Tom Clancy’s The Division

From a pure gameplay perspective, The Division 2 is generally better than Division 1. The shooting is better, the skills are better, better enemy encounters, etc. I just didn’t like the world of the Division 2 that much, and found a lot of it boring though. It also seemed like they drastically reduced the ancillary storytelling, like the audio logs or visual re-creation scenes. Exploring a winter-swept version of New York City, especially at Christmas, as the streets are lined with garbage, homes are abandoned and there is plenty of dead bodies around, is still a really evocative game. It also hits a little too close to home, considering that they might turn Central Park into some temporary gave site. Yeesh.

For comments, list your favorite games about viruses and why.

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Top 8 Games in Popular Franchises Pt. 1