Z-Day is definitely coming soon. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have all this training material released in succession. Last week Konami’s Zombie Apocalypse was unleashed upon the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network inhabitants. This week Zombieland will be taking a bite out of the box office. In fact, this Saturday the dead will walk the Earth in Asbury Park, NJ. This is all too much at once. I’m going to sharpen my swords right now.
All right, I’m back. If you haven’t touched the demo, seen screenshots, or heard anything about the game yet, Zombie Apocalypse is the dual-joystick shooter answer to the seemingly tireless obsession that mankind has for the walking dead. Played much like Robotron, Geometry Wars, or Smash TV, one stick controls where you are going and the other controls the direction your weapons do their damage. Once you wrap your fingers and head around that idea, there isn’t much left to the imagination. Your main objective is to shoot, incinerate, blow up, and chainsaw the shit out of those zombies so that you can survive till the end of the level. Each level is considered a day, and there are 55 of them in total.
I know that 55 sounds like a whole hell of a lot, and while your thumbs will feel it as they are sore from all of this rotating, your eyes and brain know the truth. In actuality there are only 7 individual boards. What separates them into 55 levels are variations on the gameplay. Sometimes you can only use your chainsaw, other times there will be a blackout so you will only see the immediate area around your character. Other times there will be some pulsating boss creature with tendrils lashing out to kill you. The killing on all of these levels is only broken up by the occasional rescuing of a survivor. By the time you’ve seen the 20th level, you’ll feel like you’ve done everything and seen everything there is. You won’t actually be wrong about that, but there is a silver lining.
Playing through all the levels will get you more than achievements and trophies. There are unlockable game modes that will extend your willingness to come back for more. Some of them are those same variations I mentioned earlier, but as entire game modes. Others are new modes that you won’t see unless you unlock them, such as the “Turbo” and “7 Days In Hell” modes. There is also the fact that you can do all this zombie killing alone or with 3 other friends. The chaos is even more chaotic with friends. The one thing you won’t get from beating the game is any big cut scene payoff. Sorry. You just get a simple text epilogue. Doh. At least you get more obsessed with killing these damn things as you play it. Maybe your victory is the greatest reward?
While Zombie Apocalypse does give you a bunch of choices in how you tackle its 55 days of carnage, you can still burn through all this pretty quickly. You’ll get blisters on your thumbs, no doubt, but you can do it in a couple of days or so. The graphics are as good as it is going to get for the size of the characters you are dealing with, and how many are on screen at once. There are nice touches of humor in what your characters say, as well as one of your decoy weapons says. That C4 stuffed teddy bear was a nice touch. Still you have to choose whether this is worth your $9.99 or 800 MS Points. If you want mindless and seemingly endless zombie killing, then this is the title for you. If you want something with just as much meat but a lot more depth you might need to find other avenues away from the undead.
Overall Grade: B-