Talk about cashing in on the current craze. Zombie Apocalypse is double dipping on this generation’s obsession with the undead and twin-stick shooters. The result? An enjoyable top-down action game that does a decent job of keeping things interesting for a little while, but isn’t much more than a brief distraction.
We enjoyed of Zombie Apocalypse’s ridiculously gory action because of the varied undead enemies. Hordes of standard, speedy brain-munchers are complemented by fatties that flatten you, grannies who pull butcher knives from their bodies and chuck them at you, and zombified sheriffs with shotguns. Different enemies require different strategies, and we found ourselves prioritizing based on what was pulling itself out of the ground rather than how many there were. Vomit slows you down, so take the puking dudes out from a distance. Kill the pregnant zombies before they can give birth to their extremely annoying, one-hit kill, aerial offspring. Oh, and those dynamite-wielding kamikaze fellows? Run, because their explosion range is nebulous and blows you to bits from obscene distances.
The challenge that comes with these sometimes bothersome baddies makes Zombie Apocalypse a sometimes grating game to play. Unlimited continues alleviated our anger, but dying the instant you spawn sucks. That the shooting is imprecise, despite being tied to a 360-degree analog stick, is also a sticky issue. Dying because your bullets didn’t go where you want? That stinks too. It’s a completely predictable shooter that’s clearly inspired by Smash TV, so it’s mindless fun if you’re not tuckered out by the genre yet. Halfway through, however, it becomes a dull exercise in repetition.
Each of the seven stages has its fair share of environmental hazards to keep the killing interesting beyond “shoot everything with bullets and fire.” Chucking an explosive teddy bear attracts the undead’s attention, and is perfect for setting the mob up in front of wood chippers, jet engines and car crushers. The payout is a sadistically hysterical mess of mist and meat that you can’t help but love. You’ll play those same seven levels a bunch of times, though, and despite ZA’s efforts to change the pace by knocking out the lights, we were still tired of running circles in the amusement park. Again. Other variables like chainsaw-only maps or areas where your only bonus weapon is a box of Molotovs work toward keeping your attention, but failed to hold ours. We were done after 25 rounds. And there are 30 more after that.
At its core, Zombie Apocalypse is an entertaining, if overpriced, top-down shooter. Bringing three buds into the fray solidifies the game’s blatant Left 4 Dead influences and definitely makes it a more enjoyable experience, and dropping chain guns and sniper rifles in front of us is nice, too. But we couldn’t shake the “I’ve been here already” déjà vu. By the time you hit the halfway mark, you’ll be sick of spinning in circles.
Dec 3, 2009