To me, the Undead Empire series (yes, there’s two games now, which qualifies as a ‘series’ for my purposes here) has been a surprisingly fun (well, up and down) zombie shooter in a well-traveled format. Conscious or not, every game of this type has aped on James Silva’s success with little deviation, which makes Undead Empire: Hellfire (80 MSP) a very curious upgrade, considering the visuals and character roster haven’t changed from the original.
That’s a valid point, and even though the purpose of a twin-stick shooter is in the shooting, you can’t help but feel the deja vu creeping up at every turn. UE: Hellfire sees the continuing odyssey of Dr. Hubert Von… you know what?… it doesn’t matter. You came here to shoot things.
And shoot things you will. Hellfire is strictly about the action, and gifts you a cornucopia of undead and undead-dispatching weaponry and turrets, some of them new to the sequel. Guns suck ammo from normal or elemental stockpiles, and every character has a different starting loadout (all of them have a pistol with unlimited ammo as backup), allowing you to choose your ideal weapon, such as a shotgun, SMG, sniper rifle, and perk unique to that character. Those bonuses include things like increased damage or cash pickups.
Regardless of choice, money accumulated during the rounds (enemies drop cash and ammo) can be spent in the shop between levels in typical wave-shooter fashion, so a new gun or turret type is never far away. For a further cost, each weapon / turret can be upgraded, often meaning the difference between a nice toy and lethal tool (upgrading the shotgun gives it a wider spread and more damage; hasn’t steered me wrong yet).
Story mode offers fifteen levels (waves), which will throw a lot of undead your way quickly. If you’re playing alone, you will definitely need to put your first monies into some variation of a turret within the initial two or three waves. Beyond that, you’ll be overwhelmed. The game doesn’t suffer hermits. Playing with others would obviously makes things easier, and UE: Hellfire encourages (read: requires) you to go that route, with up to four players locally or on Xbox Live.
Screw zombies; it’s the crows that’ll get you every time.
Beyond the campaign and online sessions, there’s a returning survival mode that gives you a primary weapon with unlimited ammo to do as much damage as possible on a shoestring life-span. Online Leaderboards also return, and go a long way in convincing zombie-stalwarts to continue playing. It covers all the bases, with player lists for every mode and a lifetime kills tracker.
While I still recommend taking a look, Undead Empire: Hellfire is one those games that could go either way depending on how you play, and it hasn’t changed much from its last outing. Solo, it’s a nice challenge for a few rounds of short-lived fun, whereas in multiplayer (local or Live), the added muscle from friends or strangers makes it a much more surmountable and richer experience.