Review: Zombie Apocalypse (PS3, Xbox 360)October 13th, 2009 | Written by Filippo Dinolfo | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360
Zombies have become a staple of today’s popular culture. They appear in movies, music, books, and of course video games. Whether it’s 28 Days Later, re: Your Brains, or Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, it doesn’t seem like you can escape those shambling masses of former humanity. Zombie Apocalypse is a new Dual Joystick shooter available for download on Xbox Live and Playstation Network, and it’s coming into a very crowded market.
Zombie Apocalypse seems to tick all of the right boxes initially. It has a cast of four clichéd characters that would feel right at home in any B rate zombie flick. The extent of the characters’ individuality is their grunts and victory animations, along with the brief blurb on the character select screen. There’s no real story here, just a generic virus that sweeps through and turns everyone into zombies. Your chosen character slogs through the hordes, mowing them down and saving survivors where possible.
The setting may not be all that imaginative, but it serves well enough to frame the various environments that you’ll be fighting in. Zombies will attack you in the town square, at a truck stop, at a graveyard, logging camp, etc. Each of these areas have their own set of hazards that you can take advantage of. You can lure zombies into a wood chipper at the logging camp, or blow them up with fireworks in the town square for example. This adds an extra element to the gameplay, but unfortunately the hazards aren’t as useful against gigantic waves of zombies. Still, every bit helps when you’re up against hundreds of ravenous flesh-eaters.
To deal with the ever present horde of the undead you will need an arsenal of deadly weapons. You start off with an assault rifle that has a good rate of fire and does decent damage. It also has unlimited ammo, which you’ll appreciate when you see just how many zombies will be coming at you. You can pick up additional weapons throughout the game that include a Chaingun, Grenade Launcher, Flamethrower, and Molotov Cocktails among others. If you want to deal with a lone zombie you can also opt to use the Chainsaw you’ve got with you at all times as well.
Zombie Apocalypse has two major problems though. First off, when zombies are crawling out of the ground, you can’t shoot them until they have finished their standing animation. It would have been nice if you could shoot them before they had a chance to rise up, but if they had done that, the game would be even easier than it is already. There isn’t much of a penalty to dying apart from losing your weapon power up and score multiplier. Even if you lose all your lives you can simply continue from right where you were.
This leads to the game’s biggest problem: it gets repetitive very quickly. There are seven different arenas to fight zombies in, but the game has fifty-five levels. Yes, that’s 55, which of course means that you repeat the same levels over and over again with differing conditions and more and more zombies. You’ll even fight the same zombie boss several times throughout the game. 55 Levels is just way too much for this sort of game. If they’d ended it after 28, that would have been a bit more appropriate and could have been a subtle homage to 28 Days Later. By the time you get to the last level, you’ll most likely be numb to all of the zombie slaying.
One thing that Zombie Apocalypse does do well is multiplayer. You can play the game with up to four players offline or via the internet. This is one case where playing with people in the same room is a better experience than playing online, since you can better communicate when everyone is sitting on the same couch. Online multiplayer works very well and plays rather smoothly If you’re the host . If you’re joining a game it’s a bit different. It can be smooth if you have a good connection, or sluggish if you’ve got a marginal one.
After the last shots are fired and the last zombie slain it’s safe to say that while Zombie Apocalypse isn’t a terrible game, it really doesn’t stand out as a prime example of dual joystick shooting excellence. It’s a game that is fun in short bursts, but quickly gets tedious. It’s a rare case where having lots of levels actually turns out to be a detriment to the game. On the whole though, Zombie Apocalypse is good for a quick bit of zombie slaying fun, and worth a trial at the very least.