I’m convinced at some point in the future that video game development companies across the world will receive a strongly worded letter from the Zombie union, requesting they stop treating the put upon undead as bullet sponges and cannon fodder and start to treat them as just vitally disadvantaged.
Until that day, games like Escape from Zombie City will still be produced for your gun totting enjoyment, with their standard apocalypse story lines and last man standing tropes and will continue to make you ask the question as to whether we need yet another zombie game in our collections.
In some ways, the answer to that question is a definite maybe. Tom Create have put together the standard lone soldier trying to fight his way through the crowds of brain munchers, after an original assault failed spectacularly and left Johnny Johnson to battle through before the entire city is carpet bombed to rid it of the plague.
A cartoonish, anime vibe is presented all the way through Escape from Zombie City and while the zombies aren’t saturday morning cartoon material, they certainly don’t individually look threatening. The backgrounds are also rather uninspired, as you move from the bottom to the top of the tarmac jungle at the beginning of every level in order to get to the exit. What Escape does manage to achieve is a sense of panic, which is to be applauded considering the simplicity of the games visuals.
The main enemies are easy enough to dispatch, and even with your standard gun you can hold you own for small groups of the undead. Tom Create has seen fit to include a plethora of different weapons and equipment to keep the brain munchers at bay, with a selection of shotguns and flares and grenades at your disposal to keep things interesting. Each have their own uses, with flares giving you some breathing space while the shotgun giving you crowd control.
The temptation is to go all out with these new-found toys, and that leads to nothing other than an early brain removal. Ammunition is in extremely short supply and you are always better saving the better stuff for when you are in a tight squeeze, and believe me, you’ll be in there so often you’ll come to feel you’ve been wearing nothing but tight spandex while you have been playing.
The inclusion of aiming as interesting as it provides a small risk reward mechanic. You have the choice of shooting in your general direction which still allows you to move, or you can aim instead which will slow you down. Aimed shots are more likely to hit, but increase the chances of you being surrounded, while straight shooting can have you missing completely. Indecision can result in you being the party person in the centre of the room, with no way out. It’s a clever inclusion to add to something that could have otherwise made the gameplay too samey, too quickly.
While this mechanic increases the tension in close combat situations, one thing that caused major frustration was how changing weapons is handled. I can see how Tom Create thought it might add some additional tension, having to concentrate on selecting your next weapon using the D-pad. However it makes little sense in terms of when you are in the heat of the action, as you’ll spend too much time trying to fiddle moving from the circle pad to the d-pad and back again and often end up switching to the wrong weapon, wasting precious ammo in the middle of a panic.
Considering how difficult it can be to get hold of more ammo for the more useful toys, it seems an unfortunate oversight that decreased the overall enjoyment I had with Escape from Zombie City quite significantly. The only other issue I faced was moving between the upper and lower screens could sometimes push you into the cold embrace of an undead.
In order to break up the zombie slog, you can jump into the Endless mode where score attack challenges such as killing zombies with certain weapons or travelling as far as you can before you die exist. Unlike the story, endless mode offers a much shorter timed event and is therefore suitable for short sharp blasts. You’ll find yourself going back again and again for just one more go.
For all the small irritants contained within Escape from Zombie City, I would be guilty of being over critical considering the small cost to bring this zombie crowd control shooter to the double screen near you. It’s certainly fun to play, the music creates a brilliant atmosphere and the various score attacks will give you plenty to play for. It’s not the potential zombie apocalypse it could have been and that for once is no bad thing. Mild annoyances keep this from being brilliant but at the low-cost, it’s worth having sitting there when nothing else takes your fancy.
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