How to survive a zombie apocalypse
- By Hunter Skipworth Follow on Twitter
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Imagine waking up one morning to learn that the entire world had been taken over by a deadly virus turning people in to brain munching zombies. Before Bob Geldof could rustle up a good charity concert to find a cure, he is having his shins gnawed off by the undead. The world descends into chaos and it is just you, a can of baked beans and a fight for survival.
Not many will make it past the first few days, thanks mainly to a lack of training in dealing with zombies. In order to help prevent people from being turned into a pile of entrails, there are now specialist training camps designed to get you clued up on zombie survival.
Fearing the worst and concerned about our huge gaps in zombie knowledge, Pocket-lint headed down to get involved, brush up on our weapon skills and take on a the undead while we were at it.
The first thing we needed to do was learn how to handle our weapons properly. This would help prevent any accidental shooting mishaps that might lead to some rather unpleasant injuries. Our trainers, who we might add were highly skilled servicemen who wished to remain anonymous, handed over our weapons.
Replica M4 in hand, loaded with paintballs and complete with tactical light on the front, we got ready to fire. Those who have used paintball guns before will know how inaccurate they can be, these however were not and we were hitting targets dead on in no time at all.
The real excitement started with the room clearing training. Imagine you are confronted with a building in the depths of zombie heartland. It could be a useful hiding place, or turn into a buffet for the undead. A few room clearing techniques, to stop your arms getting chewed in tight spaces and all this can change.
The first thing you need to do is pair yourself up with someone. It needs to be someone you trust as room clearing requires constant watching of each other's backs. We understand you might be alone on your travels through zombie land, however our training relied on teams. Expect to die pretty quickly if you are left alone.
Once you have a partner then you need to learn how to "stack up". Without this vital technique room clearing and general zombie battling is going to be impossible. The tighter and closer you are as a pair, the smaller the gap, so the less likely a zombie will be able to take you on. Once confronted with a room, you stand by the door, partner behind, tap them and then rush in.
First man takes the left and clears it of zombies, the second takes the right. You then drop to one knee, and declare "room clear!" to your partner. If you have further team members you can then instruct them that there are more rooms ahead. They will then stack up in the next doorway and clear the next room and go firm, so you can leapfrog and clear the next room.
As we learned very quickly, all the excitement, shouting and general threat of zombies can cause you to get slightly ahead of yourself, meaning you may miss targets. Any gaps between pairs leaves the first person who rushes into a room immediately vulnerable from behind, very dangerous indeed as we discovered to our peril.
So rooms are clear of zombies, up next is hallways and open areas, much more of a challenge. Pairs are vital again as the front man drops to one knee while the behind person shoots over their head. This means both can fire at the zombie at once. Head shots, by the way, are an absolute necessity, as every gamer knows.
Open spaces are the hardest as you are vulnerable to attack from any side. The zombies we were up against were less like the speedy attackers of Left 4 Dead and more like the wandering beasts of Dawn of the Dead. Still you would be surprised how easily they could grab you.
Part of our training involved being driven via Ford Transit to an open area. What is crucial is that you maximise the weight of fire you can throw at the zombies. Imagine a game of snake on the old Nokia handsets, peel into the van like a winding snake and peel out similarly. Line up alongside the front of the van in a row, so if anything makes a run at you then fire can be poured into them.
Training was now over and it was time to try and take on some zombie specimens for real. Conveniently, well in some regards, a zombie infestation just happened to break out right in the middle of our training. Sirens rung out, and we piled into our tent for a briefing on how to contain the outbreak. First up was clearing the perimeter of the camp. It was now pitch black outside so seeing any zombies was proving difficult, despite the tactical lights attached to our rifles.
We had to clear out a set of huts situated on the opposite side of the base, which required us to drive over in a van and pile out, negotiating a dangerous piece of open ground. A lead car in front was tasked with making the first push. This was when things started going wrong.
Lights off, the doors to the van closed, we could hear our team mates in the lead car screaming. Adrenaline pumping, we flung the door open and flooded out. Most of the training we had been through immediately fell to pieces as we witnessed a zombie smash the car window and pull a friend out, straight through the broken glass. A few brief moments of screaming and we collected ourselves, went for the headshot and moved on. We now realised what we were up against and rallied ourselves into a tight knit group.
With the perimeter cleared, we were confronted with a set of Portakabins. Shining our tactical lights on the doors, none of us were watching the rear, leading to a stray zombie managing to take out a member of our team. Most of the Portakabins were clear, bar one which contained a particularly large zombie. It managed to pull a team mate inside, who we could hear screaming whilst the zombies had their way with him. We jammed the barrels of our guns into the doorway and eventually managed to prise it open. The zombie was still going strong but soon fell to the ground after a double tap to the head.
With the first wave over we regrouped at base camp. Similarities with the safe house elements of Left 4 Dead had to be drawn. Exchange ammo and shotguns for cups of tea and you get the picture. It was then time to tackle the main event: a warehouse stacked full of the undead and the only antidote right in the centre.
Tight corridors, sirens, flashing lights and lack of virtually any lighting whatsoever created a sense of total confusion. Our room clearing skills from earlier were tested to the max as each one of us squared up against the zombies. A particular difficulty was tackling a small crawlspace filled with zombies. Getting the headshots wasn't easy and a few team mates took a bite to the leg while we tried to make it through.
Once we did eventually make it to the antidote things had gone worryingly quiet. We had the sinking feeling that whatever was waiting round the corner was going to be bad. The collection of zombies awaiting us more than confirmed that feeling. Less of a rogue zombie chomping at the arm, it was more like a rugby scrum composed of the undead. Our team mates thankfully managed to pull them off us and our now steely reactions meant headshots were instantaneous.
Crisis over, antidote in tow, we blasted our way out of the warehouse to safety, regrouping with the other team who had been clearing out another area of the base. It was great fun whilst being terrifying at the same time. Left slightly battered and bruised, but the zombie infestation safely taken care of, we hung up our boots and handed in our rifles.
For those interested in having a zombie experience like no other, bringing the action from your console to real life, or if you are just after some training in case the worst happens then head to wish.co.uk to get yourself booked in. It is around £60 and takes up half the day. We suggest bringing plenty of warm clothes that you don't mind trashing. Don't expect to leave without any bruises, the zombies like to play rough and the day is pretty intense.
Still though, great fun and massively useful for future undead-proofing.
Any tips for surviving a zombie attack? Let us know in the comments below ...