|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nihilistic Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
April 21, 2009 - The success of games like Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Rising is not surprising in the least. Zombies are awesome by their very nature, and people love to blast and hack them to pieces over and over again. But does viciously mowing them down violent legions of our brain-eating counterparts in games ever get old? Judging from the recent wave of zombie fever sweeping across game consoles, publishers don't seem to think so. Konami is adding another action-packed zombie blaster to the pile, and it looks solid enough to titillate anyone who regularly finds themselves enjoying splattering the undead to the four winds.
Zombie Apocalypse is yet another game where you're thrust into the midst of a rampaging, near-endless swarm of zombies that run at you from all directions. Your mission is to simply try not to die (or join the ranks of the undead). As one of four survivors (sounds uncannily familiar, doesn't it?), you'll struggle to survive for 55 days against wave after wave of the walking dead - and to hopefully achieve a high score in the process. The arcade-style arena gameplay looks like a heaping dose of twitchy, mindless entertainment filled with tons of gore, flying limbs, and destructive bliss.
As can be expected, there are scores of zombies to slay and a wide range of ways to dispatch them. The game utilizes a dual-analog stick setup that allows you to run around in any direction and independently spew gunfire in any other direction you choose. Playing as either a doctor, a geeky gamer, a security guard, or a nimble athlete, you'll pick up all manner of death-dealing implements to aid in your survival. Expect to find a mixture of standard issue gear and high-powered goodies among the game's 11 weapons, including a machinegun, shotgun, grenade launcher, and flamethrower. For close-range cutlery, you're equipped with a chainsaw that can be pulled out at any time and used to shred the dead. A cool special move also lets you plunge the thing into the nearest zombie, but it leaves you temporarily prone to attacks. Power-ups, like a teddy bear packed with TNT that attracts nearby zombies before blowing them to bits, add additional variety to the undead massacring.
The design of each level will also play an important role in how you'll tackle the bum-rushing zombie hordes. Environmental hazards worked into the arenas can be used to your advantage. For example, a demolished airport level features a chopper on its side with spinning blades to shove zombies into, and there's a plane engine that can suck the beasts up and spit them back out as a spray of giblets. So far, the few levels we've seen are grimy with detail, and you'll have no problem mucking them up further with all manner of gore from dismembered foes.
When they get all up in your business, the zombies will try to knock you down and dog-pile on top of you. To keep things exciting, the game throws much more than the standard flavor of zombies at you. Cutting a swath through these normal zombies, you'll frequently meet tougher brutes that require different tactics to take down. There are limber zombies that can dodge your attacks, bigger ones that grab onto you and can't be shaken away, weapon-wielding zombies, and even flying creatures.
While staying alive is important in Zombie Apocalypse, the game revolves heavily on racking up a killer high score and bumping up your score multipliers. You'll sometimes have to help out and protect survivors until they can be airlifted out of the mess, but otherwise the focus is mostly on filling the undead with as much lead as possible (or sending their various appendages flying off). Executing your special chainsaw move automatically adds a 3X to your score multiplier, and taking out zombies in other ways boosts it further. At the end of each level, you'll bust out a ridiculous little victory dance. After that, you're given a rundown sheet that tallies your total score, the different types of kills you pulled off, and the number of limbs removed, among other stats. Taking on the zombie hordes by your lonesome looks to offer plenty of action-packed and bloody entertainment, but the game also supports local and online multiplayer co-op matches for up to four players at a time.
Zombie Apocalypse definitely takes more than a few cues from Left 4 Dead - it's almost like a third-person, birds-eye-view version of the same concept. Fortunately, originality isn't always necessary when it comes to zombies, since much of what zombie fans love about such games, and the unique horror genre in general, varies little from one entry to the next. Players who get a big kick out of sending throngs of undead back to their graves will no doubt want to keep an eye out for this Zombie Apocalypse when it hits PSN and XBLA this summer.
CCC Staff Contributor