Zombies are one of video games’ perfect villains. They inspire dread because they look human and are trying to eat the player. Happily, since the player understands that zombies lack any kind of humanity, there’s no remorse in putting them down mercilessly. In fact, obliterating zombies in creatively brutal ways is encouraged. Furthermore, since zombies are only a real threat en masse, it’s almost guaranteed that there will be plenty of gibs and viscera to go around. Zombie Apocalypse represents everything that’s good about the video game zombie and delivers fun, action-packed gameplay – for a little while anyway.
Zombie Apocalypse offers very little story and rightfully so. When the point of a game is to destroy an invasion of zombies does the player really care why? In the game, a zombie outbreak has destroyed the city – and presumably the world. Refusing to go down without a fight, four distinct heroes rise to stem the tide of walking corpses. Along the way they rescue survivors – always the same hapless blond woman wearing a smart-looking business suit. And though the heroes mow down wave after wave of undead, there’s always another horde to greet them at the next stage.
The game is played from an isometric, top-down view that will vaguely remind of Smash TV. The player chooses from four unique characters, each with their own interestingly sordid background, but who play identically. The player is then inserted into a closed off arena of sorts where zombies come spilling in from all directions, including bursting forth from the ground. Fortunately, the player is armed with an M16 and infinite bullets as well as a chainsaw for when zombies get up close and personal. Movement and attacking are mostly handled by the analog sticks with one for running and the other for firing in a particular direction. Players can also toss a C4-filled teddy bear that will attract zombies with its cuddly phrases before exploding.
A high score to share on the online leaderboard is the objective. Each zombie is worth so many points depending on the type, but every five kills adds a multiplier to the zombie’s value. Using the chainsaw to perform a special execution move increases the multiplier even further, but is time consuming and puts the player at risk of being grabbed and dragged to his or her doom. To progress in the game, the player must survive each arena or day.
Each day takes place in a different locale that’s fitting for the zombie genre, like a cemetery or a lonely gas station. Every arena is wonderfully detailed and it’s sometimes a shame that there’s so much going on, because the artwork should be admired. The developers included hazards that result in high-point value, instant kills if you can shoot a zombie into it, like a helicopter’s rotors or a wood chipper.
The initial game experience is awesome. The characters exude silly personality whenever they survive a day, often performing some kind of victory dance. The zombie enemies are varied, unique and beautifully animated. They range from the standard zombie that lurches forward, groping at the player to granny zombies that hurl knives they’ve been impaled with. Then, of course, there are the radioactive counterparts that are functionally the same, but are harder to kill. On the default mode, Zombie Apocalypse introduces the zombies to the player one stage at a time, but then starts mixing them to create some of the most and hectic video game moments any player can find.
Unfortunately, the fun will wear thin after a few days playing the game off and on. There are only a handful of arenas, so as the player progresses through the days, he or she will find the settings repeating. Still, Zombie Apocalypse does an adequate job in keeping the game fresh by including different weapon powerups, like miniguns, rocket launchers and sniper rifles. Different game modes can also be unlocked, such as Turbo, which accelerates all of the animations, and Chainsaws Only, which should be self-explanatory. The mode 7 Days of Hell is not for the faint of heart or limited of time. The player must survive literally thousands upon thousands of zombies, which leads to the inevitable downfall of the game. After a while, Zombie Apocalypse feels like drudgery. Some situations become so impossible that gameplay descends into “extra life” management, because the player expects to not survive.
Nevertheless, as a downloadable game for a reasonable price Zombie Apocalypse offers a ton of value for both gamers and zombie aficionados.