Tag Archives: zombie wave shooter

REVIEW: Last Stand

As you can no doubt surmise from the screenshots, Ghere Games’ Last Stand ($1.00) is a wave shooter1 featuring the ever so undead, set in a dreary-looking underground bunker populated by yourself— the only ‘living’ resident— and a horde of snazzily-dressed yet oddly-shaped zombies. You can probably guess what happens next, and what your job in this apocalypse is going to entail.

Last Stand - Screen

Following the well-trodden path of Call of Duty‘s formula for dispatching zombies, Last Stand takes place in a series of similar (like really similar, like exactly the same) rooms, walled off by barricades that can only only be felled by the hard-earned cash2 you get from eliminating those undead. The zombies themselves will occasionally drop ammunition and temporary buffs to aid in your quest for money and bunker space, such as double cash, double-sized magazines for your guns, and an insta-kill powerup.

That money can also be used to buy a trio of new weapons beyond your trusty starting pistol; a shotgun, a semi-auto rifle (think sniper), and assault rifle. Your upgraded arsenal comes in handy, as the zombies will get more powerful as the round goes on, requiring multiple shots to finally be put down.

Last Stand - Screen2

And you’ll wish they didn’t. The combat is dull and repetitive, as are the zombies’ damage animations, strangely morphing from walking, to crawling, then back to walking as you shoot them. Add to this a lot of other annoying little issues and glitches, such as getting stuck in doorways between rooms, zombies running in place (oh, and invulnerable to boot!), weird pauses and hiccups in the game, and it all makes for a very unsatisfying experience.

One you’d be keen to avoid. It’s functional (to an extent), but cheaply done, a drag to look at in motion, and even more lifeless3 than one of the developer’s previous, Zombie Hunter IV. Even excusing the use of the undead (which I’m not) and grading it solely as a wave shooter, Last Stand isn’t very competent, or fun. At all.

  1. Sort of. There is no ‘start’ or ‘end’ to the waves; the zombies are just always around. They never leave. 
  2. There’s some good life advice in that: Something standing in your way? Throw money at it, and it will disappear. 
  3. Pun very much intended. Because it’s zombies, haha. Get it? They’re dead. No life! Lifeless! Haha. …Haha…. Ha…. … I’ll stop. 

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.

REVIEW: Dwarf Madness

In the year whatever of our ongoing war with anything versus zombies, I have to say I’ve seen it all now. With Dwarf Madness ($1.00) and its cast of four color-coded, gold-seeking, cave-exploring little-r people, we’ve officially exhausted every option for a sparring partner against the venerable undead. There can’t be any form of man or animal, real or fanciful, that’s yet to take its turn on the front lines.

Dwarf Madness is a twin-stick shooter. Yes, it forces me to drag out the much-despised ‘zombie wave shooter’ tag, but zombies play only a marginal role in the game, one of several different types of enemies (it’s not even the most dangerous; that honor belongs to those damn flying cherubs). And while the levels are labeled in successive waves that contain ever-increasing amounts of baddies, the main objective is collecting loot and upgrading your weapon / character RPG-style when you visit the store after each run.

The standard arsenal applies; pistol, machine gun, shotgun, sniper, and launcher. Ammunition is infinite, so go ahead and fire away. It’s playable with up to four in local co-op, sharing lives (but separate HP) and the camera, while competing for the same finite gold reserves. Although it’s undoubtedly better with friends, single-player is a fine alternative, thanks to random gold layouts and tricky AI with a mob mentality. On the higher waves, you’ll have to carefully clear out rooms and corridors.

Taking the place of a traditional story, the shop and its enterprising owner are your keys to the kingdom, in terms of progression. Acquiring gold and buying out his stock advances the game in ‘chapters’, accompanied by some generally witty writing. It’s nothing too deep or groundbreaking, mind you, but the style compliments the action without taking up too much of your time. With these story bits usually comes fresh unlocks, that enable you to max out your preferred gun or offer permanent stat boosts and perks, like reduced weapon recoil, an extra life per run, etc.

Dwarf Madness - Screen

You only ever fight on the same solitary map, but once you’ve progressed enough in the shop, Hard mode becomes available. This allows you to show off your upgraded weapons and dwarf against a tougher set of re-skinned foes, with twice the gold to collect per wave and a higher percentage of gold drops from defeated enemies. It can’t take the place of a new environment or mode, but it’s a nice way to extend playtime and scale the difficulty. With the frantic arcade gameplay and multiple online high scores to chase, it’s not disheartening enough to disappoint.

Dwarf Madness doesn’t have the most inspiring title, and may turn off some with the mention of zombies, but the game is genuinely fun and easy to pick up. It’s more than worth your time until the next unlikely protagonist (Dinosaurs?) takes up the never-ending fight against those flesh-eating moneymakers.

REVIEW: Dawn of the Fred

Despite my (completely justified) reticence to play another zombie shooter, Dawn of the Fred (80 MSP) has been a long time in the making. So long, I’d kinda forgotten about it. Developer Sticky DPad Games was running previews on other indie sites in an effort to promote the name and idea literally years before its release. Want more aging trivia? Dawn of the Fred was to be the survival-centric prequel to the more-fleshed out (with a story campaign, side missions and such) Night of the Fred, which I’m not even sure on the status of. Look for it in 2016, maybe?

Dawn of the Fred - Screen

I kid, I kid. The important bit is, Dawn of the Fred is here. It exists. And, yes, it’s a survival game featuring those loveable shamblers, popularly known as the zombie wave shooter. The game posits an unlimited number of rounds and brings together a varied roster of undead in familiar archetypes (think Acid, Screamer, Tank, and Regenerating zombies) on two maps. Waves play out according to different sets of rules. In some rounds, you need to defeat a set number of enemies. In others, you’ll face off against larger groups, or more of a certain type. Zombies drop cash, which you can then redeem for ammo or health at vending machines scattered around the battlefield, or visit the gun shop.

With a generous stockpile of 70+ weapons and numerous combinations thereafter (you can equip two guns at once), it aims to be more Dead Rising-lite than traditional wave shooting, which definitely works in the game’s favor. Granted, a good chunk fall into the usual weaponry suspects (SMGs, shotguns, pistols, just with increased stats), though you do get a more diverse set of guns on offer in the ‘wonderful’ and ‘weird’ categories (…a toaster, for instance).

While those beefier (or bread-ier, ha!) options don’t typically come cheap, the key to survival is in trying different loadouts; something ventured, something gained, if you will. The ideal setup for me was alternating an SMG / rifle with a launcher of some sort, trading off firing speed for area-of-effect whenever a crowd or the heavy hitters gathered. This improvisation works out well, as the mix-and-matching amounts to most of the fun you’ll have in Dawn of the Fred.

Dawn of the Fred - Screen2

There are some small concerns. Occasional depth-perception issues with the background pop up (it can be hard to discern doorways and paths, especially with the gore filter at max), and with health refills locked away behind an absurd amount of coin ($5000!? And it doesn’t top you off for the trouble!?), I struggled to even reach the fifteenth wave on some playthroughs. This is less of a critique should you play it locally with a friend, no doubt the best way to enjoy and progress in the game.

Still, Dawn of the Fred makes the best of its lengthy development cycle, separating itself from the rest of the pack with dozens of unique weapons. The gameplay and a few shortcomings here and there remind you that at its core it’s just a gussied up zombie wave shooter, albeit a fun one with a piranha launcher. Not very many can say that.

REVIEW: The Co-Op Zombie Game

There’s quite a few things in life that I dread doing. Public speaking, tax preparation, jury duty, dentist appointments, to name a few. Reviewing another zombie wave shooter is a recent inductee to that list. There’s just… there’s just so many of them. Deserved or not, The Co-Op Zombie Game (80 MSP) caused a reflexive sigh upon startup, another dreaded event I’d have to man up and tackle.

The Co-Op Zombie Game - Screen

Turns out that’s being a little too dramatic, and I have since rescinded my sigh. Moving on. It’s not fully intentional, but Strange Games Studios’ newest bears a striking resemblance to The $1 Zombie Game, a bizarrely-popular (and I’m stressing ‘popular’; I still don’t get the fascination) wave shooter that staled after ten minutes (yes, in my opinion). The Co-Op Zombie Game adopts the literal naming both for ease of recognition and truth in advertising. Your assumptions are correct; it’s all about battling the undead, and supports up to four players online.

Though the game promises almost twenty levels, it is, in fact, one sprawling piece of real estate, broken up by piles of debris that transfer you from one area to the next. The layout runs from narrow lanes to open intersections, with plenty of room for a party of four to spread out and cover their respective ground. Things will start to look and feel a little same-y and sparse, but there is a definitive design for each stage despite the reused urban environment. Monotony is held at bay with some handy explosive barrels and ammo / gun crates, giving the level some much-needed interactivity and you a reason to explore every nook and cranny.

Your starting pistol aside, you are saved from ‘wave shooter fatigue’ by the chance of finding new and stronger guns (shotguns, assault rifles, and scoped variants). The game graciously allows you to carry two weapons at once, with the ability to swap out whenever you happen upon a better situation. Ammo is generally plentiful, though melee weapons can bypass the trouble of reloading in a tight spot, with the trade-off of being up close and personal with your attacks. You’d do better to equip two guns, though, as the amount of zombies in each wave predictably increases as you go along.

The Co-Op Zombie Game - Screen2

Online co-op or free-for-all modes also take a potentially pedestrian task to a higher level, making the game far more dynamic and fun whether you’re playing with or against friends / strangers. Cooperative’s rule set is the same as solo. Free-for-all makes everyone a target, zombie and human alike, fighting towards a preset score with extra points awarded for killing other human players. While there are a few minor hiccups and inconsistencies (players passing through walls / barriers, for instance), overall, the matches I encountered were solid.

There isn’t much new to the formula here, though the environmental interactions and online play carry what otherwise would be a standard zombie vehicle. With a full party, The Co-Op Zombie Game is good fun. It means well, plays well, and ends well. That’s probably the highest praise you can get from a wave shooter cynic like myself.