Gamertell Review: Zombie Apocalypse for Xbox Live

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Title:Zombie Apocalypse
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10 US)
System: Xbox Live Arcade,
Release Date: September 26, 2009
Publisher: Konami
ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood, Gore, Violence
Pros: Throwback to arcade style shoot ’em ups, fun selection of weapons and special types of zombies, multiplayer is a blast
Cons: Only a few maps to play on, action becomes repetitive, single player becomes tough to slog through
Overall Score: One thumb up, one thumb sideways, 75/100; C, *** 1/2 out of five.

If Smash TV and Left 4 Dead had a baby, Zombie Apocalypse would surely be the blister-inducing result.

The control scheme and general lay of the land will be instantly familiar to anyone raised on arcade classics like Robotron. Nihilistic Software’s effort is an unabashed love letter to those older games with some of the new twists on the zombie genre cribbed from Valve’s smash hit.

The nod to Left 4 Dead comes from the integration of special zombie types such as the “Puker,” whose constant stream of vomit slips and slows down your character, and the “Big Boy.” While you can wriggle your way from the grasp of most zombies by wagging the left analog stick, the construction garb clad Big Boy’s grip is instant death.

MMMM, Brains

The zombie types get crazier from there. Later, you’ll face psycho prom queen with Aliens-style critters bursting from their chest and zombies that tote shotguns. Your weapons will include shotguns, flamethrowers and Molotov cocktails (also a staple weapon in Left 4 Dead.) And I don’t really need to tell you that one of your staple weapons is a chainsaw, do I? The chainsaw will kill a zombie with one attack and increases your score multiplier, but the drawback is you can easily be chomped on from behind while you’re swinging it about. Environmental hazards you can toss zombies into including airplane engines and car crushers.

Zombie Apocalypse Screenshot 1

There are also survivors to save for huge point bonuses and the right to earn “Zombie Bait,” which is a talking a teddy bear stuffed with “love and C4.” Perhaps as more homage to the arcade shooters of yore, he has only a few phrases and you’ll quickly tire of them. But those games did have their flaws and it’s OK to correct a few of them along the way, even while paying tribute.

The game really is at its spew-inducing best when you and three friends fire it up and try to make it all the way to Level 55. There are only a handful of maps, though, and you’ll see them loop over and over through your adventure. There are other ways the game ramps up the difficulty, including a blackout mode that only allows you to see the heroes’ immediate field of vision and irradiated zombies that are more lethal to fight. By the time you reach day 55, you’ll have seen everything multiple times.

Even so, only the heartiest of the hearty may make it that far. You can continue levels after your death, with the only real penalty being unable to appear on the game’s leader boards.

Smoke ‘Em If Ya Got ‘Em

The four heroes you’ll use to to slay the mass of infected freaks get repetitive also. The collection of zombies is fun and unique and I wish the same amount of care had been taken to make the four heroes you can select more different as well. Each character has a cute little bio snippet that could have been used to expand on their characters although I realize that for this type of game it’s a little much to expect any kind of full-fledged story.

Zombie Apocalypse Screenshot 2

Still, there were interesting bits of stuff thrown in and it would have been nice to see them – dare I say – fleshed out in some way. More important is that the four characters, even the obligatory female, all play exactly alike. You can’t use the style of game as an excuse here as even ancient arcade side-scrollers such as Final Fight mastered the simple concept of “bigger guy hits harder, skinny guy moves faster.”

All-in-all, this little-arcade-shooter-that-could delivers enough fun, particularly as a multiplayer game, to warrant its 800 Microsoft Point purchase price.

If you’re the kind of zombie fan who can already quote all the rules for killing the undead laid out in the new flick Zombieland, this one likely warrants some space on your Xbox 360’s hard drive.

Site [Zombie Apocalypse]

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