September 30, 2009

Zombie Apocalypse | Review

Shawn Lebert Says This past Wednesday, Konami set loose Zombie Apocalypse for both the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, which infected consoles everywhere. Heavily inspired by retro favorites like Smash TV and Robotron 2084, this roughly 300 MB post-apocalyptic world arrives nearly two decades later. Does it become a contemporary successor or a mindless clone or…could it possibly be both?

For $10 on either Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, you can dive straight into the arcade gore-fest by yourself, with up to a four-player multiplayer locally or online.

For those who need a brief pick-me-up and have no idea what Smash TV was, the game was about single or cooperative play, the latter was advised, which players would be stuck in a four-cornered room to battle onslaughts of enemies that would arrive randomly through doors upon each wall. The gamer had to survive the room until the game decided that you passed the level. The story, of course, centered around a game show, as viewers watched to see how long competitors could last. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film Running Man or the very recent Death Race, where the latest global, family entertainment was nothing but quick cash over orchestrated genocide.

Zombie Apocalypse runs along that idea – aside from the societal meanings over the corrupted minds of ones who suffer post-apocalyptical traumatic experiences – and makes it a very mindless, very repetitive, yet very fun action shooter that serves a basic purpose and does it successfully.

This arcade title is an exact reiteration to what we saw decades ago, except for the addition of killer zombies and high definition. The developers don’t stray away from the omniscient, bird’s eye view camera angle, making sure everyone sees a piece of the action from every direction. Unlike the flat interiors from Smash TV, Zombie Apocalypse provides distinct areas on the exterior varying from amusements parks to junkyards. The locales aren’t boring areas to look at either: objects pop out in the foreground and back, making the environments stand out in the heat of the battle that you’re caught within.

There are a total of four survivors to choose from. Three of which are your generic looking men with generic appearing job titles, and luckily provided is a female for the minority just in case you feel left out without a similar gender. It’s reminiscent a bit from Left 4 Dead, but that’s where Valve hit the stereotypes for zombie outbreaks on the nose. As there are survivor types, there are also different zombie types. They aren’t all just shuffling undead, as there are some that love throwing daggers at you, heavy-set construction workers, or radioactive kamikaze ones with dynamite. The further you go, the more you’ll experience a diverse range of the dead and you have to put your thinking cap on to remind yourself of the differences in enemy attacks while they all attack at once.

The levels in Zombie Apocalypse range from freakin’ easy to insanely overwhelming. That’s exactly what is needed. Overall, the gamer will go through 55 levels of undead dread. Each level gets progressively harder with more zombies on screen and becomes much, much longer to survive the wave. All you have to do is survive. Simple, right? This is one big strategy of a game, believe it or not. You must think on the tip of your toes as zombies leap into the battlefield in all directions, and as well as, bursting from underneath your feet.

Don’t think of this as an articulate zombie shooter, like Left 4 Dead or Resident Evil. It’s an exaggerated form of fun, characterized with a myriad of weaponry that randomly pops up on the field for bonus pick-ups. There’s no complicated way to fire your weapon. With the right analog stick, simply aim in the direction you want to shoot and that’s it. No aiming, no accuracy needed. So it might seem much easier to take out hordes of them without the pressure of becoming exhausted from an impossible amount of zombies showing up. Each character is equipped with a teddy bear – or similar pipe bomb from the famous Left 4 Dead – when once thrown, will trigger any zombie that’s around to follow it, distracting them from the survivors, which results in them being blown away with a secret explosive inside. You’ll come to find that the package does include a few comedic moments with reactions from survivors or the exploding teddy bear screaming “Tickle me! My favorite color is red, what’s yours—“ KABOOMing at just the right moment to make you laugh.

Fifty-five levels of this is quite a lot, but there are even a few more delicious incentives after playing through the main game. Another mode in particular is entitled “7 Days of Hell” and is an exaggerated version of the main game. There’s no need to explain what’s involved, it’s just hell. The big fun and replay value in this scoring the biggest number on the leader boards. The best way to land a good number is to consistently kill zombies and spend less time dying. An extra bonus is saving innocent people who stumble on the site and need five-second assistance so the chopper comes to take them away. It’s that simple but attempting to remain that long in the game can be troublesome when you realize how much you have to deal with on screen at once.

Zombie Apocalypse does accomplish what it’s set out to be. You’ll get most of the experience playing with friends, screaming for help or to get that power up. It doesn’t really do anything wrong as it is a simple yet effective arcade title.

Bring on the ZOMBIES.