With the releases of Left 4 Dead, the film Zombieland, the Nazi Zombies mode in Call of Duty: World at War and the soon to be Left 4 Dead 2, zombies have apparently been one of the latest fads in American culture. It’s not surprising, though. What’s not to love about zombies? They can be horrific (Dawn of the Dead remake and the George Romero classics), comedic (Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland) and they are extremely fun to kill (Left 4 Dead and Nazi Zombies). Getting up close and personal to a zombie isn’t recommended, but when you’re wielding a pump-action shotgun and vaporize its face into a cloud of red mist, you get a warm feeling inside. Well, developer Nihilistic figured this all out and created Zombie Apocalypse. Available for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, Nihilistic tried to make this multidirectional shooter (think Smash TV) worth its $10 value. Bringing together the horrific images of decaying zombies with a comedic overtone, this arcade shooter has a lot going for it, but is this a game that you would like to bite into?
The story is simple: Kill all zombies. Players are allowed to choose from a cast of four characters featuring a spunky young female, a police officer who tried to make it into the army, a young black business man, and a nerdy white dude who is probably close to being a forty year old virgin. Besides the last guy, this game’s cast is vaguely reminiscent of Valve’s Left 4 Dead which may or may not be a good thing. It’s good to feel the vibe from the popular first-person shooter, but they could’ve come up with more original characters. After players choose the character of their choice, they are thrown into the fray to wipe out this zombie apocalypse and they will fight day after day until the moans seize. It’s not a deep story by any means and the only time you hear a character speak is at the end of a level or when they are grabbed by a zombie. However, this arcade game isn’t about the story since it focuses more on the gameplay.
The levels are separated into days and there are a whopping fifty-five of them. In each of these levels, players are tossed into a small arena-type area where zombies can jump out of anywhere. To add variety and difficulty, Nihilistic created multiple types of zombies. There are the regular zombies who are easy to kill, puking zombies that slow you down if you run over what their bowel movements created, female zombies that dodge your weapon fire, overweight construction workers who can fall on top of you spelling out your doom, grannies that throw knives, sheriffs that fire shotguns (oh yeah, they can use shotguns), kamikaze zombies that run around carrying dynamite and pregnant women who spew out demon spawn from their inflated bellies. This is a great addition because it can deliver a lot of tension and intensity when taking on all of these in the later levels. The problem is that there are fifty-five levels and they introduce these zombies too early in the game so by the time you reach day twenty-five, it begins to get repetitive. There are a couple of boss fights sprinkled throughout the game but this is also a letdown because it’s the same boss with more obstacles trying to mutilate players.
Difficulty becomes a huge factor in the later levels as waves and waves of zombies will appear out of every nook and cranny trying to bite a chunk out of you. The weaker zombies (the first three I stated earlier) can be shaken off by waggling the joystick which is a can really help out players when caught off guard. However, the later zombies can all kill the player in one hit so it will pay off to keep moving and pay attention to everything that is happening onscreen. This can create a bit of frustration, especially when a granny’s knife just barely grazes your character and he or she goes down. Nonetheless, this adds to the original arcade feel of shooters where one hit is means death.
The objective besides killing all of the zombies in with a gun, chainsaw or environmental hazard is to earn a high score. Each kill grants the players points and the more points you get, the more lives you receive and the higher your score will be on the leaderboard. Now, it takes two million points to earn another life and this factor increases by five hundred thousand for every additional player that joins in on the killing spree. As you kill zombies your multiplier will increase (every five kills increases it by one) giving the player an even higher score. This is where the old fashioned arcade feeling comes into play. Gaining points for dismembering zombies is a feeling no person on earth should miss.
Besides the M-16 with infinite ammo, the arsenal of weapons includes shotguns, dual Uzis, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and more that will aid players to tear the limbs off the dozens of zombies attacking (and yes, the limbs actually do come off). To use all these weapons is very simple. Just pick them up when they appear, move the right joystick in the direction you please and fire away. These weapons are fun to use, especially when you get the chance to mow down a mob of zombies with a chain gun. The best weapon is definitely the flamethrower, instantly killing any zombie that tastes its wrath. Yet, some weapons are useless like the Molotov cocktail. How is that possible you may ask? Well, they don’t kill most zombies right away like most weapons. Instead, it does minimal damage and allows the zombies a chance to continue going after the player. One of the most trustworthy tools players will have is the chainsaw. It is dangerous to let a crowd of zombies get near you but the chainsaw is a lethal one hit kill. Players can either use the chainsaw regularly or perform an execution. Executions do leave players vulnerable but they add x3 to the multiplier. Another handy weapon is the “teddy bear bait.” When in a sticky situation and need a quick way out, the player can throw the teddy bear bait onto the ground. It will call to the zombies and when it’s surrounded by them explode, sending zombie chunks across the map (pipe bomb from Left 4 Dead anyone?). This is the one of the best features of the game though since it can boost players’ scores significantly if enough zombies crowd around it and the comedic lines it spews are fun to listen to (my favorite being, “I’m stuffed with love… and C4.”) Players are allowed to carry only one teddy bear at a time but it can be replenished by saving survivors that appear in the level.
To save these survivors, which happens to be the same woman over and over again in a blue pants suit, players must prevent the zombies from taking her down and turning her. If successful, a helicopter will drop a ladder and take her away. If not, she will be turned and come after you with all her might (and don’t try to use the teddy bear on her because that will end up in failure).
This all becomes easier when played with others. This game features both offline and online multiplayer but players can not do both at the same time. This means if you’d like to play with three other friends, everyone must be in the same room or online. The only flaw with local multiplayer is that since everyone is on one screen, players are constricted to that particular area unless everyone decides to move together whereas in online play, players can go where they choose. Even so, this game is meant to be played with other people because striving to bring your deceased pal back into the game with only a hundred thousand points to go and you’re surrounded by zombies is where the game’s intensity really kicks in.
The game also offers different modes such as “Chainsaw Only,” “Blackout” (the electricity is out) and “7 Days of Hell.” The first two are sprinkled into the default setting but you can also try to play all fifty-five days with them. The “7 Days of Hell” is basically what it implies: massive amounts of zombies with each day becoming increasingly difficult and longer. This mode was fun at first but the two final days are around an hour long each! Now, for most people, killing zombies never gets old but when you’re stuck in the same area doing the same routine over and over, this can become frustratingly monotonous. This will occur towards the end of the default mode as well. After enduring hours of killing endless waves of zombies, another forty-five minute level is not something that seems extremely appetizing. Even with the numerous weapons and countless amounts of blood and limbs scattered across the ground, it becomes old news after a while.
The music in the game also doesn’t help the repetitiveness since the same song plays in almost every level. Sometimes they juice it up with pretty good rock and roll tune but before you know it, the music returns to the same mellow theme that loops. Other times the game just decides to not play any music at all leaving the players to the sound of moans and groans the zombies make. This isn’t a bad thing because the sound effects are pleasing to the ears. The painful yelps the zombies make are great when their arms or head is shot off. The characters only speak at the end of the levels and they shout the same two lines as they do their victory dance (literally, they dance). These are enjoyable and comedic to listen to a couple times but by day twenty-five or so, it’ll lose its touch.
The graphics are decent for an arcade game. There’s a lot of blood in this 3D shooter and limbs will fly everywhere as zombies are killed. The environments are designed well and each area is unique however, there are only seven of them. For a game that has fifty-five levels you’d think they would add a little more variety to the scenery. The character designs for the twelve models are well done but there’s nothing new once you’ve seen them all. When you get to the boss fight, as stated earlier, the sight of it may be shocking at first but when you face it a fourth time through, you’re eyes won’t care anymore.
Zombie Apocalypse is enjoyable with all of these aspects but it suffers from one major flaw: it’s too repetitive. Sure, most arcade games were victim to this and many are considered classics but in this day and age, developers need to come up with more to keep the player interested. The game can take a very long time to complete with levels sometimes lasting up to forty-five minutes to complete. Recommended for only hardcore arcade players, zombie lovers and gamers who wish to earn some extra achievement points. It will definitely deliver some fun and intense situations but if you are a gamer who needs variety, satisfy your hunger with something else.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com