Zombies. They’re absolutely everywhere now! What started out as shambling monsters in a black and white horror movie cult classic has now turned the living dead in to starring roles in many movies, hundreds of books, a few television shows and even our beloved videogames. Everyone is set to cash in on the flesh eating zombie craze while it’s still fresh…err, I mean rotting flesh in the XBLA title, All Zombies Must Die! even if it kills them and brings them back to life with a hunger for brains! Set in the fictional town of Deadhill, a zombie apocalypse has occurred and it’s up to hero Jack and 3 of his friends, ex-girlfriend Rachel, the Bob Marley wannabe alien Luxo and scientist Bryan to rid the town of the zombie horde.
Sporting a top-down view with pretty decent graphics and a dual analog stick control system to navigate your character from one section of town to the other while completing tasks to progress in the game, AZMD! is a pretty easy downloadable title to just pick up and play. The tasks are laid out in each level by computerized security gate monitors that require you to clear out a certain number of zombies before you can move to the next section. These tasks can range from killing 20 zombies to lighting 25 zombies on fire and then blowing them away. While the gameplay and controls are pretty easy to pick up and play, it’s easy enough to run around a bit before acquiring enough zombies to line up and blast away before finishing your task successfully with no problems. Although, mess around enough and get surrounded by zombies and it’s pretty much game over from that point and you’ll soon be starting over at the last checkpoint.
As in any good zombie romp, each character starts off carrying the standard zombie-blasting weapon, be it the classic shotgun or the ‘Shaun of the Dead’ cricket bat. You also have a secondary weapon, which is a submachine gun, but it’s pretty underwhelming and I would only recommend using it if you really have to. It’s not very powerful and really does not do much damage to the zombies, so I found it best not to even mess with it. Upon advancing in the game and finding certain elements, you will start compiling experience points that you can spend to use on powering up your character and weapons.
Like I mentioned above, the game does provide a few role-playing elements, such as quests and item creation/alteration. Players have the option of which quests they will undertake, allowing non-linear progression and some exploration within the game world. As in any RPG, players also increase their character’s level by defeating zombies and collecting specific items. Throughout each section of town, items such as extra XP can be found in containers such as trash bins, ammo boxes and in the cupboards in the ransacked houses. Once enough XP has been gained, the chosen character can then return to base (a demolished police station) and level up before stepping back out on the streets. The base also includes hubs, which serve as weapon modification stations, for instance allowing the player to create items such as electrified melee weapons and sonic cellphones. The RPG elements kept my interest enough to mess around with leveling up my characters, but it’s not enough of a main element to tout the game about.
Early on, I noticed this is a game that was not going to take itself very seriously, which I kind of really liked. From the “I think we’re in a videogame” humor banter between the characters to the eerily lighthearted background music, the game is a blast…for the first few levels if you’re playing by yourself in single player. A game like this absolutely screams for co-op, and it’s there, sort of, but not in the way you would expect it to be. Yes, the proverbial ball is dropped and there is NO online co-op play. Local play, yes. Co-op play, no. In a game like this where the story can take multiple sessions to even get far enough to progress in the game, they can’t expect you to have the same group of four people to plow through the game and the game becomes insanely boring when it’s just you, yourself and, well, yourself. It’s small things like this that could take this game from being a one-hit-wonder to something that you could look forward to playing online with 3 other buddies on a somewhat frequent basis.
What starts out as a lighthearted romp to save the town turns into a repetitive chore-based game a few hours in that I just wanted to be done playing. It’s not that I had a bad time with the game because it does do a lot of things right, but it also does some things bad like the absence of online co-op. I do give them props for the cartoonish graphics, the humorous character banter, fun music and different zombie classes, but all of this is lost a few hours in when the game becomes a repetitive mess of backtracking throughout the town to complete the objectives.
Given my time with All Zombies Must Die! I have a hard time recommending this to those of you that are dead set on single player only, but if you have a few friends that will tough it out with you, then I think you’re in for a zombie-blasting good time!
A XBLA review code for All Zombies Must Die! was provided to us by doublesix for review purposes. The game is also available for download on PlayStation 3 via PSN and Windows.