Special Attack

Special Attack
10 Things I Love About Zombies, Run!

Mur Lafferty | 23 Aug 2012 21:00
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The bigwigs, namely Nintendo, have tried to get gamers moving before. My kid and I were in love with the Pokewalker, a pedometer that came with the Heart Gold/Soul Silver games. It was designed to hold a pokemon within and let it walk with you, and the more you walk, the cooler items - or even other pokemon - you find. I assume it didn't catch on well, because when the next Pokemon iteration came out, it was incompatible with the Pokewalker. No walkies with Snivy. Sorry, Snivy. You will die of obesity related illness.

Nintendo also gave us, of course, the Wii, which was the destruction of TVs and other devices everywhere. I still have a dent in my Powerbook case where my stepsister slammed the Wiimote into it during Wii Baseball. Even though this new device had some people walking around, shamefully and oddly sore due to a bit of exuberant lightsaber fighting, and some sports stars even were getting injuries playing the games, you didn't start seeing more toned geeks walking around.

But with Zombies, Run! I get the ultimate incentive to get my ass in gear. Here are ten reasons why:

1) ZOMBIES! YEAH! ZOMBIES! Yeah, I'm one who gets tired when a trope is overused, and every time I think zombies are overused, someone does something fresh (hah. Fresh. Get it? I crack myself up.) Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, for example, that happens to be an engaging political/medical thriller in a zombie setting. Or Zombies, Run! The zombie apocalypse is here, and the communities keep fuel for generators, so they need good runners to go do their recon and supply missions. They fix up the runners with headsets and follow them on scanners and cameras in the area. That's where you come in. And when you're running, and you hear the living dead groaning behind you, you run. The first time it happened, I actually looked behind me. Yeah. I'll admit that. This stuff isn't real, but it makes me run.

2) Gotta Catch 'Em All. To go back to the Pokemon mentality, as you run you will randomly pick up items. "PICKED UP AN AXE, A BOX OF BULLETS, AND A PAIR OF TROUSERS." You don't have to stop your running or actually bend over. They just trust you're that dexterous. You get common stuff, like lightbulbs and bottled water and underwear (the codex on your device assures you that they're in a package and therefore clean) or less common items like bullets and USB keys and plot-specific items. I get a stupid little thrill of pride when I hear I've picked up a lot of stuff at once.

3) Abel Township: Your base of operations. You start out a new person in town with a mission (which is not revealed to you, the runner) and you join their stable of runners as Runner 5. (They offer an official RUNNER 5 shirt, and I'm very close to getting it.) During the run, you have the charmingly nerdy Sam Yao in your ears, guiding you away from zombies and toward your mission specific goals. Sometimes other people come into the sound booth, and that's when you learn a bit about the plot, especially when the doctor visits. Sometimes other runners will go out with you and keep you company (and perhaps tell you a little more of the plot). When you come home from your run, you can go to your device and put the items from your run into the town, leveling up buildings and unlocking more missions.

4) It Makes Me Run. Really run: I have the Runkeeper app on my phone. I can program intervals where the pleasant voice says, *ding* NEXT INTERVAL, THREE MINUTES, FAST. This notification makes me, more often than not, swear loudly and keep running at my normal pace. I don't care that the program requires me to pick up the pace. I'm tired and sweaty plodding along is all I have in me. But when zombies are detected, and I hear that groaning behind me, I haul ass. Up hills, at the end of a long run, whatever. Anything to avoid getting caught.

5) The Damn Storyline: Yes, I'm caught up in it. I care about those voices in my ears. I got a thrill every time I unlocked a new mission so I could hear more. I felt the tension with the season ending runs. I nearly yelled aloud when I realized one run would end at a cliffhanger. Is it a "typical zombie story?" Pretty much, but the immersion of me as a key runner within the story is unique enough to keep me interested. People in the township talk to you as if they can see you via scanner and they give instructions You also get the story of Abel through this communication, and you get to meet a lot of different characters.

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