REVIEW: Zombie Defense Squad

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.

Zombie Defense Squad - Screen

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.

Zombie Defense Squad - Screen2

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.

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19 thoughts on “REVIEW: Zombie Defense Squad”

  1. Hey Tim, I don’t think your comments are unfair at all and I wanted to have added more depth to the game. The sad truth is that XBLIG is not the same as it once was and there’s very little money to be made now. You simply can’t put the time and resources into games that you once could. There were some things I wanted to do that would have made it more interesting but I just couldn’t justify the added time and expense knowing how little it was likely to make.

    I just wanted to make a game that was fun and kids could play online with their friends. MetalLord made a great observation and this is something I’ve spoken with other devs about at times. Now days, people expect a lot for a $1 and they don’t often realize how much work goes into making a game. If you look at other forms of entertainment such as movies where you get less than 2 hours for around $9, a $1 game that gives more time than that really is a good value.

    Although I have moved on to the PS4, I am going to continue making games for XBLIG but they won’t be anything great. I won’t publish garbage but all I can afford to do with XBLIG is take existing games and make sequels. It’s a shame it’s come down to that but it is what it is. Just about all of the developers I know have completely abandoned XBLIG right now and these are people who made polished games that were typically in the top 10. I don’t think you’ll be seeing too many more great games on XBLIG.

    It was a great opportunity though while it lasted and put me in a position to do other things so I’m very thankful for that.

    1. As always, Reggie, thanks for the taking the criticism as just that and for doing what you do in making games. I don’t think I’ll ever fully-understand the work that goes into making one, but I have learned a great deal since starting up with the reviews. Bottom line— It’s not a job I would want, I don’t think, beyond the ‘creative’ part before the coding and balancing begins. That seems like an nightmare. 🙂

      One thing I do understand and agree with is the current mindset of developers on XBLIG. Outside of a few, I’m sure most think the same way you do, that it just doesn’t make fiscal sense to put the time and effort into making a new product every time, especially when only a certain amount of people will play (and pay to play) it. I agree with that to an extent, and I’ve been seeing it plenty these last few months. The most recent review up, Mummies Rising, is a good example of a developer just re-skinning an existing game and engine and calling it another release. Can’t blame him, on the one hand, but then again, my ‘job’ (amateur and unpaid as it is) in reviewing it is to steer people towards the great experiences and avoid the bad and / or copy-and-paste ones.

      The price point is another sticky issue, and one I don’t try to bring up unless a game is really short (we’re talking 20 – 30 minutes) or repetitive. It is easy to lose focus, though, especially with so many other things that cost 5x or 10x more than an XBLIG. I’ve also been upset at the idea that better games, ones I’ve added to the leaderboard on-site, couldn’t succeed at a $3 price point, and had to be brought down or retooled to work at $1.

      The end for XBLIG is coming, no doubt, and while I still think 2014 has some good gems in the works, we’ll definitely have to see if some of this stuff works better on ID@Xbox and the PS4, or if the same problems persist.

  2. Happy new year everyone.
    Starting off with a zed game?
    I guess it a refresher.
    *patiently waits for DWS games to finally arrive*

    1. Happy New Year!…. plus one day.

      I DO have Time Viking! up next for review, and that game contains a playable Raptor from Space, so…. sort of a dinosaur shooter, if you’re player two.

    1. Always thought that game was an odd choice / concoction for a shooter. The varying unit types seem cool, but it also seems like a game that might stale kinda quick, especially once people find the right unit / formula to basically take over a map and piss everyone else off.

    2. Yea that is always the challenge with FPS multi games. Finding the balance. Hopefully they find it because it looks fun as heck to me. So glad they are releasing it on both the one and the 360.

    3. Oh, you know, for some reason I thought it was only on XbOne and PC. 360 as well, so it looks like I will get the chance to try it for myself after all. Nicccccce.

    1. Happy New Year! No doubt there will be plenty of zombie games on Xbox One once the flood gates officially open, so I better get used to saying ‘zombie wave shooter’ a lot. 🙂

    1. Hey, hey, it’s still technically ‘the Holidays’ until Jan. 2nd, and really longer if commercialism and the big corporations have anything to say about it. Count yourself lucky that I don’t leave it up all year, like people that leave their Christmas lights on year-round. 🙂

    2. That was just my sarcastic way of saying Happy New Year. I have an excuse. Starting playing Bully for the first time. 😛

    3. Happy New Year! And Bully! Played the original and loved it. Haven’t bought the HD upgrade, though I do hope the recent rumors and domain registrations are true, and that a sequel is on the way for next-gen…. or is it now considered now-gen?

      To answer your other reply, though, I like the idea of paying more to a developer if you like the game / their work. You see that on Steam a lot, with developers bundling their old games with the new one, or adding a ‘buy soundtrack’ option in order to give them a little extra. Might start to see something similar with ID@Xbox. I suppose if you’re really feeling generous, you could always hit up developers’ sites and find their ‘Donate’ button. 🙂

  3. I purchased this one as well soon after playing the trial due to the fact I like the comedic approach to zombies and being new to gold I wanted to see how the indie channel was when it came to multiplayer online action. I was quickly disappointed in the fact that I only ever got into games with one other person and the wave of zombies would either follow them or me.

    Now I’m not complaining about the buck I spent on it. Actually giving it some thought this morning we sure do expect a lot out of our $1 video games anymore. I remember when I would gladly insert a dollars worth of quarters in an arcade game for anywhere from a few minutes to maybe if I was lucky an hours worth of video game play. But with so many games becoming available on the arcade side of things for $3 it’s not hard to figure out that the basic supply and demand that I learned in school that determines pricing is completely thrown out the window.

    1. It’s certainly not a waste of a dollar, by any means. Just too much of a familiar thing to recommend you spending a dollar on, overall and from this developer. And this marks an instance where I hate being the guy reviewing it, because I’ve spoken about games with the developer (Reggie) a few times. He’s honestly a really nice guy, committed to bringing good games to the market. This game surprised me, as I thought he had moved onto PS4 development, but perhaps he thought he’d try another game on XBLIG.

    2. In that case I’m really glad I bought it then.

      You know what they should do? They should allow you to pay more for it if you want. Say like in this case I would give you $5 just because I would like to see this fleshed out a little more and with enough of a financial incentive maybe that would happen.

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