There comes a point in everyone’s life when it is no longer acceptable to knock on a stranger’s door and demand free candy. For me, that time came years ago in an awkward and somewhat humiliating event in which my haphazard costume was mocked by a little old lady, standing in her doorway with a bowl full of toffees and a disapproving glare.
After that, my Halloweens were spent in a number of ways: costume parties, movie nights, and handing out candy to snot-nosed kids looking for chocolate bars. Tiny, irony-filled chocolate bars.
With the technology of today, there are much better ways to get your friends together and have a fun (or spooky) time on Halloween, and I’m not talking about dangerous DNA transplantation experiments. I’m referring to scary multiplayer gaming. With that, I present my list of the “Top Five Scariest Games to Play this Halloween” (or my TFSGTPTH).
5) System Shock 2
Sure, it might be a tad dated, but it’s one of the scariest games ever developed. Okay, that’s not true, but it was certainly a game far ahead of its time that never really received its due credit until it was too late. In fact, Bioshock is said to be the spiritual successor to System Shock 2. This action role-playing game was released in 1999 for the PC. Set in the year 2114, and without spoiling any of the story, the player must make his way through dark corridors, cramped quarters, and fight off “The Many”—crazed, mutated, feral humans.
Surprisingly for its age, the game features a four player co-op feature which was patched in after release. Creeping through the Von Braun and uncovering the mystery of SHODAN is especially exhilarating when you’re with a couple of friends, and what better time to play through a piece of classic gaming history than on Halloween night?
4) Killing Floor
Don’t get too excited yet, because they aren’t zombies. They’re “specimens” left over from a gruesome government experiment, and it’s up to you and five others to take on wave after wave of these freakish abominations. The graphics are surprisingly good for an Indie release, and continuous map releases and updates keep the community growing strong.
Unlock weapons, equip perks, and customize your character as you make your way through the game’s many multiplayer maps. You can even equip a welder to block off entry points on the map, funneling your foes into a smaller area for maximum carnage. Available for a paltry sum on Steam, Killing Floor is like a souped up version of Super Smash TV, only in first-person and minus the stacks of cash lying all over the place.
3) The House of the Dead: Overkill
Zombies were bound to make this list, and here they are. Only available on the Wii, The House of the Dead: Overkill is an arcade-style rails shooter featuring fantastic grindhouse cinematic effects and dialogue. If you’re not afraid of excessive violence, profanity, and a ridiculously cheesy script, you’ll love this game. Sure, the graphics aren’t top notch, and there a few artifacts that pop up from time to time, but that barely takes away from the game’s glory.
You’ll blast your merry way through carnivals, hospitals, and other typical freaky scenery in order to uncover the deliciously absurd plot, earning money, unlocking weapons, and having a great time alongside a friend. Every time you activate “slow mo-fo mode,” you’ll thank me for turning you on to this little gem of a game (available at budget prices through most retailers).
2) Resident Evil 5
A game that perhaps needs no introduction, it’s the seventh game in Capcom’s survival horror series (despite that pesky number five). Released last March, the best-seller of the series centers around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar in Kijuju, Africa. If you’re a fan of the previous games, you’ll enjoy this one. It’s more of the same winning formula.
Resident Evil 5 allows players to team up online or in local co-op, working together to unravel the mystery of the terrorist threat in this fictional African town. Capcom even released a versus mode through DLC, which turned out to be a missable affair. Still, even without the $5 add-on, there is plenty of fun to be had with a friend and a few thousand zombies.
1) Left 4 Dead
Perhaps predictable, but there really is not a scarier multiplayer game to be had right now. That is, until perhaps Left 4 Dead 2 comes out next month. Released in November 2008, this co-operative shooter features movie-like episodes, an intelligent AI director, multiple game modes, and some of the most exhilerating survival game play available.
Play as a team of four survivors making their way to safety in a post-zombie-apocalypse, working together to reach the goal. You can also take on the Versus Mode where a team of Infected try their damnedest to stop the team of survivors from escaping. A “Gears of War horde-like” survival mode also found its way into the game after release, providing more replay value. This Halloween, if you aren’t freaked out by running through a corn field with a dying flashlight, surrounding by the wailing sounds of hungry zombies, I’m fresh out of ideas.
Whatever your plans are this Halloween, you’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to gaming with friends (or strangers). Do yourself a favor and choose a seasonally appropriate game, because we all know once Christmas rolls around, you’re not going to have the same holiday-themed choices (ed note: You could always play How the Grinch Stole Christmas on the Dreamcast… or not).