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Zombie Apocalypse Konami, Microsoft Xbox 360, September 2009

Zombie Apocalypse
Nihilistic Software
800 points ($10)
Essentially it's Robotron 2084. With Zombies. If you aren't quite sick of zombies yet (and you very well might be) and have a love for classic arcadey shooters, then this game is for you.

The goal is to be expected -- kill all the zombies, don't get caught, and occasionally rescue survivors, which consists of standing by them until a helicopter can fly in, lower a rope ladder, and take them to safety. The survivors all seem to be the same -- one blue suited annoying woman who you would not normally care about except your goal is to get a lot of points, and she provides you with a lot of points if you rescue her.

Controls are simple. The left analog stick moves. The right analog stick shoots. The right and left bumpers throw zombie bait, which is a teddy bear that explodes luring zombies to it with sayings like "I'm full of love! And C4!" The right trigger is the chainsaw, which you can use for close-in slicing. You can also use the chainsaw with the left trigger to do a "execution move" which gets you more points, but leaves you vulnerable. Also, your left stick can "shake off" zombies that get close enough to grapple you.

You will probably not rely on the chainsaw too much, as your guns are what you will be using the most. You start off with a rapid-fire assault rifle, but can pick up a shotgun, moltov cocktails, twin submachine guns and a sniper rifle, all of them are more effective at killing zombies than your usual assault rifle, but have limited ammo.

Zombie ApocalypsePlayers fight on seven different settings, a graveyard, a city street adorned for the 4th of July, an airport runway, a junkyard, a snow-covered lumber mill, an amusement park, and a gas station. There are conveniently this many locations as there are days in the week -- each level is characterized as a "day" and moves from level to level until the scenes repeat, with 55 levels total. In all of these levels there are certain areas where you can shoot the zombies into for gruesome kills and added points. The junkyard has a car crusher, the airport has a spinning jet engine, and so on. There are also the standard "exploding barrels" you can shoot on every level and take out a lot of zombies.

It isn't all the same old same old levels over and over again though. There are new enemies than just your standard zombie. You can find yourself giant construction-worker zombies you can't shake off, zombies running around with dynamite, and grandma zombies that throw knives at you. Also, there are variants on the levels themselves, for example, you may end up on a level in which you can only see a short distance. Or, there's a level in which you can only fight with chainsaws.

The graphics are good for an Xbox Live Arcade game. Things are moody, there's blood galore, the lighting excellent, the animations of being dragged down and eaten by zombies sufficient.

You can play by yourself or with three other people, and you basically keep going until all of your run out of lives. If you run out of lives but one player makes it through the level, you come back with one life on the next level.

You choose one of four characters which are largely forgettable: There's Harlan an OCD med student. There's Natalie who is a femme fatale with schitzophrenia. Jimmy is the nerd, who plays shooting games and has the quote "Girls are like RPG's, you gain XP as you go along but the fights always get tougher." Finally there's Ed, a 40-something security guard with the mirrored sunglasses cigarette, bitter attitude. They all play the same, with different appearances and celebratory moves.

Is it worth buying?

Overall, this is the kind of game that one might see in an arcade if those were the type of places people still went to. It provides a fun zombie-shooting experience without too much depth. So if you still aren't sick of zombies and like an old-school shooter, and know a few friends who like the same, then this is a game for you.

--Shaun Clayton
September 28, 2009

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