Contagion Inspires: The Best Video Game Viruses


Posted September 9, 2011 - By Kevin Kelly


Contagion is in theaters today, showing the world about the horrors of a quickly spreading mystery disease. You know, sort of like Outbreak, except much, much worse. It's a film packed with performances from Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and more, all of whom were probably drawn like moths to the flame that is Steven Soderbergh. And just so we're clear, Gwyneth Paltrow dies. Extremely early in the movie. That's in the trailer, people!

What follows is a meandering film that charts the path of a disease gone rampant that decimates the world population, and causes society to fall apart. However, that's the most interesting segment in the plot, and the film nearly glosses over it. Some rioting and looting is shown, as well as home invasion (briefly) and government curfews, but the true devolution of human civilization isn't shown. How do the lights stay on? Why do cell phones still work? These are the questions that Contagion misses, and if you really want to experience a superflu gone wrong, check out Stephen King's The Stand which covers that territory well.

Still, there is something compelling about Soderbergh's venture into this territory, sprawling cast, story, and all. The most intriguing part of the the film is the detective work involved in tracing the virus back to its origins. While the CSI-esque tracings of Paltrow's credit card receipts and video camera footage of her actions in a casino are strangely fascinating as they trace the virus backwards and see who she's come in contact with. Somehow, the race for a cure ends up being one of the most bland portions of the film. Jennifer Ehle pulls through in her role as the doctor trying to find a vaccine, but she's pulled down by a woefully miscast Demetri Martin.

Contagion Inspires The Best Video Game Viruses

Throw in the subplot with Jude Law as a paranoia-inspiring blogger, and a watchable mix comes out of this, although you're not that involved in the story. There are some feel-good moments that don't feel earned, all the way up to the end. By the time the movie is over, you're not quite sure what to take away from it, and it's Soderbergh's sheer will that keeps this together enough to sit through. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it. And it made me extremely aware of everything I touch all day.

But, it got me thinking about the video game viruses that have run rampant throughout history, killing millions more innocents than Contagion ever did. There are a lot to choose from, and we have some favorites. Here are our five favorite video game viruses.

The T-Virus From Resident Evil

The "tyrant virus," or t-virus from Resident Evil is one of those familiar breeds of viruses: one that was grown by a corporation for the purpose of getting richer. As with most viruses, it was also engineered to be a biological weapons, and it got out of control. When will scientists learn that you just don't mess with genetic material? Especially if you're an evil scientist. Those just never turn out well. Tidbit: The t-virus is green in the video games, but blue in the film. Guess green wasn't science-y enough.


Resistance 3 Gamescom 2011 Trailer »


The Chimera Virus From Resistance

In an alternate universe, an meteor strikes the Earth sometime around 1908, releasing the Chiimera virus. This is particularly nasty, turning you into a Chimera being with a specific place in the Chimeran hierarchy. You might be a soldier, a worker, or even a grotesque parody of a humanoid, but you also have your entire personality wiped, which might not be a bad thing. At least you wouldn't remember it. Tidbit: The opening animation for Resistance 3 shows the Chimera virus coming to mankind through soup, of all things. 

The Genophage From Mass Effect

During the Krogan Rebeliions, the Turians deployed the genophage against the Krogran to quell their rebellions by lowering their birth rates to very low levels, which eventually led them to begin dying out and has placed them on the edge of extinction. This has turned the Krogans into brutes with death wishes, so they are callous about striding headfirst into danger. The genophage is a key part of all three Mass Effect games, with hints of a possible cure. Tidbit: The genophage led to a healthy black market run on Krogan testicles, because it was thought to be a homeopathic remedy for the virus. 


Left 4 Dead Intro Movie »


The Green Flu From Left 4 Dead

In the Left 4 Dead games, an outbreak of an extremely powerful virus called "green flu" is responsible for turning people into aggressive killing machines, and you're part of a foursome of immune survivors who have to battle their way to freedom. It's an extremely evolved virus that causes the loss of higher brain functions, which is why you just can't talk to these people once they have it in their bloodstreams. Hopefully there won't be a cure anytime so we can have Left 4 Dead 3: Cruise Ship Slaughterhouse. Tidbit: The infected in Left 4 Dead are not zombies, even though they can sometimes resemble them. Instead, they are living, infected humans. Creepy.


Dead Rising 2: Case West Gameplay Trailer »


The Larvae From Dead Rising

Okay, so it's not a virus. But, it appears to be viral while it happens. In the world of Dead Rising, a corporation named Phenotrans has been trying to find a way to mass produce cattle. But whoops, things go wrong and they accidentally mutate a nearby wasp species, giving them parasitic larvae that invade the host's brainstem, killing them and giving the larvae control over the host body. Yes, it's pretty gross when you think about it. No idea how those wasp larvae know how to drive a human, but there you go. Phenotrans also marketed a drug that could delay the onset of zombification, Zombrex, allow them to cash in on their screwup. Not bad! Tidbit: Zombrex should not be taken within 24 hours of operating heavy machinery.

So what about you? What's your favorite video game virus? We obviously haven't touched on them all, and I want to know which ones you thought were the most devious. Hit us up in the comments below and let us know!

Contagion Inspires: The Best Video Game Viruses


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