There are some genres in gaming that will never die. It’s safe to predict that the generations that follow us will continue to storm the beaches at Normandy, rescue the princess and, of course, slaughter wave upon wave (upon wave…) of the undead menace. When the latest release from British developers Doublesix landed on my desk, I must admit to approaching it with trepidation. “How many ways are there left to kill zombies?” I thought. A few levels in, I soon regretted my prejudice against a game that successfully rekindles the nostalgic appeal of classic titles such as Zombies ate my Neighbours and adds a modern level of depth that makes this twin-stick shooter as much an RPG as an action game.
All Zombies Must Die eases you in gently, letting you plough through the first few levels with a small range of weapons and adds on special powers as increasingly varied and challenging zombies take you on. While you start off simply having to wipe out a certain number of foes, quests are introduced that make for an impressively varied experience (think Dead Island from a top-down perspective and in a more limited environment). Eventually, you’ll be levelling up your character (which, while unvoiced does provide some impressively witty backchat with other NPCs), customising your arsenal and improving your skills to help out in a tight spot.
Visually, Zombies invokes a decidedly retro style with HD graphics, successfully pulling the platform into the 21stcentury without losing any of its colourful, playful image. While enemies collapse into satisfyingly bloody messes, there’s nothing heavy about the game and the aim is to make you laugh rather than cry. The dialogue helps things along and even the more cringeworthy dated jokes are able to coax a chuckle out of all but the most cynical players. Unfortunately, the music is somewhat lacking due to its repetitive and bland melodies. It’s nothing to offend the senses but it reveals where corners were cut.
Once the game stopped holding my hand after the initial tutorial levels, I was impressed by the level of depth encountered in All Zombies Must Die’s range of enemies. Your standard foe is a shuffling, groaning shambles that’s easily dispatched with a few swift blows to the head. Zombies adapt to, or rather, are adapted by their environments. A zombie wandering through a burning building will catch on fire, adding to its melee damage and forcing you to take it on from a distance. Things get a little easier with friends, as the game supports up to four players over local (no online, sadly) co-op but you have to be careful to not take out your companions as avoiding friendly fire is a major factor in staying alive. As with the recent trend in local party games, selfish or incompetent players may find themselves in an unpopular position and teamwork is essential to succeed.
While it may face criticism for being yet another zombie game in an already highly saturated market, All Zombies Must Die does more than enough to show it can stand out from the crowd. An impressive level of depth and complexity combined with a difficulty curve that certainly ramps up as you get a grip on the situation makes for a fun and innovative, if not entirely original, experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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