When it comes to the Undead and first-person shooters, Strange Games has now hung its hat on a variety of poles, both figurative and literal. It was a club full of unfortunate strippers to start with, then they moved onto a more serious co-op affair. With the new, generic-sounding Zombie Defense Squad ($1.00), the focus once again is ‘zombie wave shooter’. This time out, its dead denizens are of an exaggerated, comical style, a la Stubbs the Zombie or Plants vs. Zombies.
In sticking with the Stubbs’ theme, the large-ish map and assets mimic the classic, 50s / 60s slice of Americana; you know, when people were a lot nicer (or at least hid their insanity better), it was safe to leave your doors unlocked, and zombies weren’t yet a part of the culture or a semi-legitimate threat. Other than the trip down a retro suburban lane, though, it’s your typical shooter setup…
…with some minor enhancements. While the zombies still come in waves for you (and up to three friends online) to mow down with your choice of significant firepower, your progress— and the end of the game— are predicated on you leveling up Call of Duty-style. You’ll gain some automatically-equipped perks as you go, giving you the usual bonuses like faster reloads, increased speed, etc. These modify your avatar ever so slightly, to even the odds at higher waves that increase the number of zombies you have to clear out.
Experience doubles as Money, which you can spend between rounds to buy one of the game’s numerous guns (Assault rifles, SMGs, all the way up to an RPG) and as much ammo as you can carry. The game ensures you’re never really light on cash, so it’s beneficial to buy the heavier weapons and keep them fully-loaded. With a secondary pistol and a few clips / health packs scattered around the map, there’s always some contingencies in place.
There isn’t much challenge or variety to the game, though, as the same few zombies repeat throughout, none of which switch up their attacks or pattern. Depending on your initial spawn point (it occasionally likes to pin you in a corner surrounded by foes), it’s simply a matter of ‘leading’ zombies around the neighborhood’s circular track. And with their complacency added to the been-there-done-that gameplay, it’s no wonder that the thrill is soon gone, making Zombie Defense Squad just another corpse to add to the burn pile.