Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Zombie Apocalypse XBLA Review

Bring the Apocalypse, or Get Feasted On.























In Zombie Apocalypse, you have two choices. Either expend incredible amounts of ammunition bringing the Apocalypse to a bunch of brain hungry zombies, or just give up and be eaten. Not sure which option to take? Well, then this review is for you. This won't be a terribly lengthy review, as the game is quite simple. It's an arcade style twin stick shooter, in the vein of classics like Robotron and SMASH TV (both of which are also available on the Xbox Live Arcade).

Remember this?

Now there's this:

This game follows the same basic pattern. You pick one of four characters:

and then you start out in an area, blast away everything in sight, then move on to the next area when you clear the one you're currently in. There are 7 different environments, and you move from one to the other and back again over the course of 50 days (each level is a different day). And of course, like the games of old, you work to increase your score, which goes up higher and higher via a multiplier. You earn 1 to your multiplier for every 5 zombies you kill. You do this until you survive the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.

So, you do this, along the way picking up various weapons, which include a shotgun, dual SMG, rifle, molotov cocktails, flamethrower, grenade launcher, and rocket launcher. Your default weapons are an assault rifle and a chainsaw, which you can use in two ways. Normal, and execution. Executions add 3 to your multiplier for each one you do, so they are very useful, but they also leave you open for attack for a second after you do one, so you must use them wisely. When the shotgun toting sheriff zombies (yes, seriously) show up, you don't want to be stuck doing an execution when one of them is nearby, you'll be open to a shotgun blast.

Speaking of shotgun toting sheriff zombies, these are the enemy types to be found in the game (weapon or attributes in brackets):

Dodge Zombie (side-stepper)
Shambler (regular zombie)
Big Boy (construction worker, can't break)
Granny (knives)
Nurse
Queen (flying)
Puker (puke piles, slows you down)
Dynamite Guy (blows you up)
Infected Human (not attracted to bait)

That last one refers to two things I have not, as of yet, mentioned. There are survivors that randomly appear, and if you protect them for a short period of time, and they get picked up by helicopter, you get a score bonus. If they get attacked, they turn and then attack you. The bait mentioned is a talking C4 filled teddy bear (again, seriously) which you can throw to get the horde off of your back, and then watch as they gather around the lovable teddy bear.....and then BOOM, they explode into a pile of bloody gore. Well, this works on everything except the newly turned zombies.

Splat!

The game starts out with one mode, and then you can unlock some new ones through normal play. They are as follows:

Turbo (faster)
All Weaons (you carry infinite versions of every weapon, which you can cycle through with the dpad)
Blackout (limited light)
Hardcore (start with one life)
Chainsaw Only (self explanatory)
7 Days of Hell (a long and very difficult mode)

As for the difficulty, it starts out easy and then ramps up, gettting quite difficult later on, although this is offset by infinite continues, which you can use if desired. Any score earned after continuing does not get posted to the leaderboards. You start with 4 lives, and you earn more as you gain score.

There is 4 player co-op, both online and off, in addition to the aforementioned leaderboards. The game is really fun, especially at first, but it's not perfect. So, a few downsides to the game:

1) Only 2 bosses, and it's really the same one twice

2) It gets repetitive, seeing as how it's a fairly shallow arcade game.

3) At $10, I don't think it's overpriced per se, but at $5 it would have been a sure bet for more people.

4) There isn't a huge community for this, at least on the xbox 360 version (I can't speak for the PS3 version). It's been out a few days, and the most people I have seen online at once is maybe 40.

Overall, this is a good looking, fun, modernized take on an old arcade standby, the top down shooter. Very fun, especially with friends, and it has a decent amount if unlockables, which is refreshing. It can also get stale fairly quickly. If you're a high score junkie, then you'll find more replayability out of it. The price is fair enough, and it really is fun. For the price of a movie ticket, you'll get two (or more) times the amount of hours of enjoyment. So, despite the inherently repetitive and shallow nature of the game, it's definitely a recommended buy for arcade shooter and zombie fans.

Final Score: 8/10.

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