Download of the Dead

Snowballs, tanks, crabs and wolves: ooh, we have done well today. Lest we rest on our high concept laurels, let’s throw some zombies into the mix too.


Old Half-Life mod Zombie Panic finally gets its HL2-powered sequel, Zombie Panic Source. Given that so many ambitious HL2 mods seem to grind silently to a halt, it’s superhappytime to have one of ’em see the light of day.

The concept? Man versus Undead Man – each warmblood the zombies fell then joins the shambling horde, so it’s all about ever-increasing weight of groaning numbers versus superior weaponry. Ammo’s harshly limited though, so there’s a lot of scope for bitter arguments about sharing between the survivors. Not a lot of that on the servers I’ve played on thus far, but there have been a lot of people quoting Still Alive ad nauseum.

This release carries the ever-abused ‘beta’ handle, though in this case it seems used in the more traditional sense. This is very clearly an early release, as evident in the limited player models and an unfortunate bug that sees the human characters all posed as if ready for crucifixion (or as if they were Deus Ex: Invisible War NPCs) on some servers. It’s a giggle, and the deliberately clumsy nature of all the running and hiding involved is a fine change from the intense precision of all those more militaristic mods that feed off the Source engine. Plus, y’know, zombies. Zombies are cool these days; no longer just a lazy crutch for rudimentary AI and dodging an 18 rating by using green blood. Plus we haven’t had many zombies for a while, HL2 Ep2 aside – it’s nice to welcome the festering old dears back.

I’m not likely to play this initial, relatively crude build of ZP for much beyond curiosity, though. While the concept works and there’s plenty of promise for its future, it needs a little more zest in practice to whet my whistle in the longterm – it doesn’t really nail either the horror or the humour of zombies just yet. I’ll keep an eye on it, though – now the framework’s up and running, tweaking it into something a little more characterful hopefully won’t be too punishing for the ZP team, who deserve huge respect and huger hugs for getting a big, working mod out on time.

And, unlike the Fortress Forever guys, pipped resoundingly and unfortunately to the post by Team Fortress 2, at least this lot have a head start on Valve. History looks set to repeat itself a little, as Valv’es own Left 4 Dead is due later this year, which barks up a fairly similar zombie/survivor tree. While Zombie Panic may lack the funds and creative experience to go truly head to head with Valve’s ghoulish opus, at least it’s got a few months to build up a community before the bigger boys turn up and stamp on their toys.

Left 4 Dead’s something we’ll be talking about in RPS in due course – post-Orange Box, expectations for Valve’s next step are crazy-high. If there’s anyone who can challenge Team Fortress 2’s teamplay crown, it’s the company that actually made Team Fortress 2. Even so, it’s quite the tall order. Oh, and there’d better be a song in it. Serendipitously enough, Portal musicman Jonathon Coulton’s already written one about zombies:

Grab Zombie Panic Source from here. I’m not going to tell you how many Peggles it is – that gag is oldoldold. It is, however, around 6,500 Sumotoris.


  1. Janek says:


    I love Zombie Panic! *furious download*

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    “X Panic” is a superb videogame naming format.

  3. Ging says:

    I should really give this a go – I seem to recall some enjoyment coming from the original version.

  4. mb says:

    Quality mod, but I wish modders would stop spending countless hours on art assets & just crank out initial gameplay prototypes, & get those right before fiddling over details. Take a look at Zombie Survival (gamemode for Garry’s Mod), not as polished but you get to play as all the HL2 zombie classes (headcrabs included), is much more fun, & was probably knocked out in a weekend or two.

  5. Cruz says:

    Let it be known, I do love to loath the undead. Can’t wait to get home to download. Anyone know where L4D is in the development process? I suspect it’s the zombie side of the game that’s holding it up. I also wonder about not having seen any screens or video outside of what I think they refer to as the hospital level.

  6. po says:

    Played this for a few hours at a Christmas LAN party. Was great fun being the first and only zombie, and having to sneak around to get the first kill against maybe 6 humans.

  7. Dracko says:

    I’m actually surprised now that you bring up militaristic mods how little mention there’s been of Insurgency here at RPS. It’s lead by the man behind Red Orchestra, which is a Hell of a selling point already for free mods.

  8. darkripper says:

    L4D and Zombie Panic are basically polished versions of the zombiemods a lot of people play on Counter Strike (but there are similar modes even in games like Halo 3 and Perfect Dark). In the actual state I find them fun for some mindless fragfest but hardly challenging or skill-based.

    ZP it’s promising (the whole inventory system it’s a very good idea). Just a bit unbalanced: zombies always wins when there are 20 players and have a very tough time when the players are around 10-12.
    I still don’t see the reason to download something like that (or even pay for it!) when there are server-side mods that can do the same things.

  9. Dracko says:

    Well, that’s unfair: We’ve hardly seen all that much of Left 4 Dead, but there’s already clear signs they’re aiming high and looking at very original and hopefully stressful takes on the genre.

    Anyone remember playing skirmishes in Aliens vs. Predator? Now that was something.

  10. Piratepete says:

    oh for chrissake I’ve only just worked out what an imperial peggle is this morning, now its sumatoris.

    *fetches calculator*

  11. dartt says:

    Another fun one to try out is zombie master.
    The survivors have to complete a set of objectives or navigate through a map while another player, randomly selected at the start of the round, must spawn different classes of zombies and set off Final Destination style traps to kill them all off.

    They development team have been on a bit of a break for a few months but they had been putting out pretty regular updates up until then.

  12. Zuffox says:

    Video no longer available. :/

  13. Chris R says:

    The installer doesn’t install the game to where you choose, it’ll install to C:\Program Files\Steam\etc, etc, etc, every time. So you have to Cut n’ Paste the ZPS folder to wherever you installed Steam (in my case, to my separate games hard drive). Just a heads up if you don’t see the game showing up in Steam.

  14. Zephyrtron says:

    Yes, but what’s happened to They Hunger: Lost Souls?
    Come on, Manke! Hurry up!

  15. TychoCelchuuu says:

    mb, the artists make the art and the coders make the game. One can’t really slow the other down. Unless it’s a one person show (it’s not) then good graphics don’t have to hurt the quality of the game.

  16. brains says:

    Thanks for this news!

  17. bill says:

    this is the worst game of all time