I really should have seen this coming, another game cashing in on all the apocalyptic and Mayan hysteria, with the usually-can’t-miss addition of zombies, in 2012 (240 MSP). And no, faithful reader, this isn’t the puzzler I played earlier in the month. This 2012 is a completely different entity, blending Legend of Zelda-style overworld exploration and dungeon crawling in an occasionally effective, often obscure, manner.
Frank Mors is a disillusioned archaeologist that finds himself at ground zero (Guatemala) on December 21st for the
Mayan zombie apocalypse, cut off from the rest of whatever civilization is left by the plodding undead. Dragged back to town, both the residents and stranded tourists bestow Frank with savior-status and ask him to single-handedly solve the mystery of what’s happened, take down a cult, and save everyone he comes across in the zombie-infested countryside. No sweat.
And Frank is a ladies man, or so we’re to believe, as all of the women he rescues are eager to ‘repay’ him. Pro tip: Archaeology is where it’s at, fellas, the panties drop almost instantaneously. Joking aside, progression is sometimes vague, and the quests are anything but clear-cut. Take the first one, which asks you to find a missing girl (there’s a lot of that to come). The game says to head North, but North is vague and quite a bit of ground to cover. If I hadn’t wandered into a temple and stumbled onto the girl about to be sacrificed, I’d have looked in vain forever. Exploration is nice, dumb luck isn’t.
But my bigger question to the developer is, how do you manage to make a game where you’re shooting zombies this boring? That I’d run out on the undead, not from fear or moral ambiguity, but boredom? Even a reasonably-written design document could have allotted more sense than to drop dozens of recurring enemies on each screen that slowly box you in, then laugh in your face at three shotgun blasts per zombie. Math time! Say I encounter 300 zombies between any one temple dungeon and the town, which could easily be the truth. Am I really going to enjoy slow-firing a 1000+ rounds? Not likely. Even after you get a machine gun, they’re still sponges and combat becomes this little circular dance you have to perform every few seconds.
‘Ladies, feel free to swoon while I dispatch these zombies and fanatical cult types. We can talk repayment later.’
The game world is huge. There’s plenty to see, and ancillary side quests are available, but they too, fall prey to bouts of wandering. Pay attention to the starter conversations, kids, as they’re usually your first and last mention of an important location or element in your mission. Your journal (somewhat) tracks the current main event, and the helpful mini-map fills in as you explore, but more should have been done to prevent the inevitable head-scratching.
That’s not to say that the core game is rotten in 2012, it just needs weapon / enemy balancing and the occasional hint or objective marker. I like the basic idea. It’s got a little bit of everything. As it’s put together currently, though, it’s a diluted sort of fun that’s a tad more trouble than its $3 worth; not broken, but not quite how you want your zombie apocalypse about the Mayan apocalypse to play out.