I’m pretty sure that everyone who reads my articles knows how much I love survival horror. What they may not know is how big of a fan I am of the George Romero zombie movies. Which makes me surprised at how long it has taken me to continue my journey to Fiddler’s Green. I’ve had this title for quite sometime, yet I’ve never beaten it, nor really gotten myself invested in it. That has changed, and I regret not playing Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green earlier in my life. If I’m remembering correctly, this is the first game to be a first-person zombie murder fiasco, and Brainbox Games did an amazing job with it. We all know that licensed games generally should not be purchased, but this one holds onto the license well and is a pretty decent horror game for being an eleven year old game.
This title is a prequel to a movie of the same name. You play as a farmer named Jack who suddenly gets caught up in all the zombie bloodshed. Your goal is to escape and find survivors and a place to hunker down. The first thing you must do is escape the farmhouse you are in. To do this you have to find all of your guns, which are oddly scattered in some weird places. Once you are armed to the teeth it is time to go check in on the neighbors. I had to walk through a cornfield which had to be the creepiest part in the game for me. Walking first-person through this field with barely any vision, and hearing the zombies all around me almost made me crazy. Thankfully, I escaped and got to the city when I continued my survival quest. This game is very liberal with the health and bullets lying all around, but it makes it so you don’t have to run away all the time.
The controls are pretty standard for a first-person shooter: RT is fire, LT is run, A is jump, X is action and Y is reload. Obviously fire and reload are insanely important seeing as you have to lay waste to hundreds of zombies, but run is quite important as well. The controls are quite clunky and it takes a while to line up good shots, so running away and lining them up is a good way to survive. You can’t run for very long distances though – Jack must have been a smoker as he starts to breathe heavy after a few minutes. Surprisingly, Brainbox Games was way ahead of their time with this title, I’m going to have to wonder if the developers of Left 4 Dead and Dead Island played this title. So many of Branbox’s ideas wound up in their games that it is a wonder Land of Dead gets so little credit. Once again it is nice to go backwards a bit to see a little of the inspiration for some very important games now.
The graphics are typical for the Xbox era. They look good, but not super good. You can tell what to kill and where to go but the details are lacking. I’m not complaining as I miss this era of imperfection. For some reason I like it the best, faults and all. Sometimes the draw distance isn’t as good as it should be and some zombies can sneak up on you because the further half of the level isn’t visible to you yet. Sound is good; you can hear the groans of the zombies and the crackling of the fires in the distance, plus the guns sound nice and powerful. The soundtrack fits the genre so perfectly as well. It is a very lightly done piano orchestra type sound that just makes the game all that more creepy.
They could have varied up the zombie types and looks a bit more, but they went with a huge set of twins and triplets for zombies. As you progress through the game though you meet some new types; one comes out of vents in buildings and crawls all over the place like Leon’s best friend The Licker. The one that I found the worst was the “gassy zombie.” This zombie, if you let it get near enough would throw up on you which would cause you to lose health and vision over time. They were a huge pain in the butt and I made sure to snipe them as soon as I saw their gass cloud. Whatever area I was in, I would gun for them first; when I was on the Gatling Gun or using the sniper rifle I would hunt down their distinct green wavy hue and end their second life real fast. These varying areas spiced the game up, turning it into more of just a kill zombies with normal guns game. I enjoyed my time guarding people with the sniper rifle, and my time keeping zombies out of Fiddler’s Green with the Gatling Gun.
Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green was the zombie game that I needed right now. I enjoyed seeing the roots that Brainbox Games started for developers like Techland and Valve. The first-person zombie melee shooter was born on the original Xbox and really needs to be played by zombie enthusiasts. The game is also on Steam if you don’t have a working original Xbox or cannot find a copy of the game. Hunting it down will be worth your time. Sometimes it is nice to sit back and play some of our gaming history. I enjoyed my time in the past and I think you will too.
Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green
- Lots of bullets and health
- Set in the Romero universe, with a little slice of what happened prior to the movie
- Varying gameplay types spice up the game
- Controls are somewhat clunky, but get the job done
- Draw distance is pretty bad, which makes some of the environments look very foggy