Tag Archives: Zombies

REVIEW: Zombie Splatter

Yeah, okay, I know. I bet you’re really surprised. Another zombie wave shooter, and of course I’m at the concession stand, popcorn and a ticket, please. To be honest, I’m not sure how I end up in these predicaments myself. Zombie Splatter (240 MSP) does zero things new, and never even considers straying from the preset formula of walking dead and purchasable weapons. Why give it a mention?

Zombie Splatter - Screen

Originally, that question was answered with the game’s zombies. These shamblers are the prettiest bunch of brain eaters I’ve seen on XBLIG. The models are detailed and varied (there’s actually visual differences between them), and animate better than any other game’s version of the dead dance. It’s bothered me of late how many developers have put so little time into making their ‘star attractions’ believable zombies, recycling the same style throughout and using as few frames of animation as they could get away with (the ‘sliding’ zombie is the worst; Yeah, Quarantined, I’m talking about you).

However, rather than insert new types of enemies as the waves proceed, Zombie Splatter subscribes to the 28 Days Later school of thought that a faster zombie is a better zombie. Within reason, sure, I’ll agree, though the game tends to accelerate its zombies to ridiculous speeds, having them sprint around the arena like rabbits in the higher rounds. And then there’s the issue of them possibly being suicidal; the quicker zombies will sometimes run into walls and off themselves, or just collapse (re)dead in the middle of the arena. Hmmm. Curious.

Extinguishing zombies and gaining multipliers (by avoiding damage) gives you money that you spend on health and ammo between waves. Besides the starting pistol, eight weapons are on sale, including the requisite shotgun, assault weapons, and sniper rifles with scopes (seriously, is there a preset list of guns that everyone uses?). Though here too, the game decides to develop a quirk, perpetually locking me out of using both the shotgun and P90, despite having permanently purchased them. Even stranger, the next time I booted up the game, the rest of the guns after the P90 were magically unlocked and available to me (!?). Still no dice on the other two guns, though. Hmmm. Curious-er.

Zombie Splatter - Screen2

Beyond those bizarre happenings, it’s just not very fun once you’ve unlocked all the guns. ‘King of the Hill’ is okay for a secondary mode, tasking you to stay within the yellow rings to score points (money), but the game handles it all wrong, tracking your time survived instead of using that concept of time against you. There’s no penalty for leaving the circles; in fact, it’s encouraged to chase down ammo crates that occasionally drop. Given that you’re already fighting off zombies in a small, usually wide-open space, why not add a timer to things, forcing you to stay inside their boundaries to stop the clock, asking you to trade off between ammo necessity and precious seconds? It’s a missed challenge…

…in a series of misses, some near, others far. All said and accounted for, I cannot recommend Zombie Splatter in current form. The price is higher than it should be ($3 for one tiny square arena? Really?), and the weapon / enemy woes and ‘small potatoes’ offerings only make it all the more obvious its appetite exceeds its reach.

REVIEW: End of Days: Survivor

In the recent spate of zombie wave shooters to be released, which has seen five games built around the concept in less than two weeks, Sick Kreations‘ End of Days: Survivor (80 MSP) still manages to be more of a surprise and anomaly than the others. Up until now, I’d been previewing Aliens Vs. Romans (also from Sick Kreations), what I had thought to be their next project. And though this game might be meant as a tide-you-over until Aliens Vs. Romans (itself poised to be a wave shooter), it instead runs the risk of souring some gamers’ expectations.

End of Days Survivor - Screen

Both zombies and wave shooters have seen their worth stretched before, but Survivor is a case of recycled materials. It takes the map from the developer’s previous effort, Infected Vs. Mercs, and drops two of the larger aspects that made that game a fun and replayable shooter; online play and leaderboards. It does feature a host of score-based unlockable weapons (that are all curiously light on ammo and capacity), though in substituting the undead, it finds itself sandwiched between doing too little and just enough, satisfying the trendy crowd with the fatal expense of ditching key components.

The game runs a total length of 20 waves, but it’s the bonus rounds that hit every three waves that are easily the most enjoyable points in the game. You’re handed a grenade launcher with unlimited ammo, each shot of which sends the zombies flying in all directions. The round doesn’t end until the timer runs out or you die. It’s fast and fun, and should have been the kind of quickened, arcade gameplay the rest of the waves strived for. Alas, it’s not to be.

End of Days Survivor - Screen2

It doesn’t help that the zombies skip out on intelligence and run en masse to your gun, relying on their numbers and you catching an odd corner or dead end to provide challenge. Failure doesn’t mean failure, either. If you die, you simply pick up where you left off, no penalty. In fact, the biggest challenge in End of Days: Survivor is simply to survive the boredom that sets in, as outside of the bonus rounds or unlocking a new gun, each wave plays out the same, with you running around, refilling ammo far too often, and shooting one nondescript zombie after another.

The helicopter sequence at the end is a just reward, but as a wave shooter, End of Days: Survivor loses the player’s interest far too quickly. Once you all unlock the guns (twenty minutes or so), they remain accessible for that playthrough, eliminating goals and turning wave progression into a lifeless chore. Coming on the heels of so many others, which sees those games doing the same thing but better in certain instances, it fails to impress. All of its parts are in working order, and the developers do weaponry particularly better than most, but I’ll admit my anticipation for Aliens Vs. Romans had dulled a bit. This should have been an add-on to the existing game. Try harder, guys.

REVIEW: Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains

With a mouthful like Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains (80 MSP), you can be guaranteed of two things; you’re not in the land of highbrow setups anymore, and naked zombies will factor prominently into the gameplay. True enough, if you’re certain you’d do well in a real apocalypse and you suffer from an addiction to ladies in a constant state of near-undress, ZSSMHTAMB will surely scratch that perverted itch of yours with zero apologies.

The story is a trifle about security guards working a convention for the recently de-clothed (‘Stripper Con’), who happen into the epicenter of the zombie apocalypse. There’s some dialogue between stages that elaborates on their situation (the voice acting runs from boring to cheesy), though the focal point is clearly on the convention attendees and sending them to the after-afterlife. You’ll start off with a pistol and work your way up from there. Each round contains limited ammo (you’ll never run out; there are always random drops to find), and all of the action takes place in a single medium-sized arena, fighting through 20 waves of girls that were formerly just trying to pay the bills.

Unfortunately, the game’s commitment to boobs can only carry it so far before it gets tiring. It succumbs to its own machinations, namely the vaunted variety, which boils down to the same gig that retail games love to put the player through; the helpless NPC that needs to be defended while he / she completes an objective. In Zombie Strippers, that character is Jake, and while his health is low and his waves tend to be the most frustrating, they are a necessary evil, as Jake is the procurer of all things dealing with weaponry. Those shiny, fully automatic solutions to the walking dead that are locked away at the beginning? Protect your pal for a few rounds, and you gain access to those guns one at a time.

This could have been the end for the game, but luckily the difficulty never strays far from ‘shooting gallery’ levels of challenge, even when new zombie forms (severed torsos, and an acid-spewing type) are introduced. While Jake will surely manage to get himself killed a few times, it’s easy enough to continue (wave progress is saved) and stick with it, especially with the promise of new guns just over the hump. From a stronger handgun to grenades, to an LMG that skips lengthy reloads entirely, these unlocks are perfectly suited for the larger crowds you’ll run into. It’s not hard to fathom then that stocking up on ammo and cutting loose is the pinnacle of the game’s fun.

Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains - Screen

A few other issues crop up. Zombie spawns are a tad sketchy at present, and can assemble an army behind you (yes, even after you’ve cleared it) without notice if you’re not careful. And though hit detection is mostly fine, the same herky-jerky controls present in Paintball War persist here. Adjusting the sensitivity works, though it’ll still be a complicated adjustment for some. On the plus side, there is the promise of online co-op coming eventually. As the adage goes, ‘Never fight undead strippers alone’. If you have a friend, it’s something to look forward to.

Even with copious levels of skin and a formidable arsenal with which to eliminate the undead, Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains rests squarely in the ‘not good, not bad either’ category. It has some fun, and you’ll easily manage a dollar’s worth of entertainment out of it, but Strange Games Studios will have to change things up for the obligatory sequel if they want to keep my business.

A Tale as Old as Time: ‘Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains’

Developer Strange Games Studios quietly released avatar-centric FPS Paintball War (read the review here) just a few months ago, and that game has continued to do pretty well for itself despite my opinion that it fell short of other first-person shooters available. The studio took my criticism and others’ thoughts in stride, not just addressing the issues raised with subsequent patches, but actively-seeking feedback from the community on how to make the game better.

That attention to improvement looks to pay off with their next FPS, the ambitious (and certainly tongue-in-cheek) Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains. The title conjures a certain immaturity, no doubt, as do the visuals (impressive, and teenage boys’ll love it) but the game aims to be more than the sum of its parts. A wave-shooter that takes place over 20 levels, ZSSMHTAMB splices in bits of story before and after each stage, focusing on the repartee between protagonist Dean and his pal Jake after they find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

The premise may be typical fare, but the gameplay looks to evolve itself as you go, with half the waves focusing on shooting, while other levels will have you guarding an ally. The zombies themselves will come in multiple flavors, which should keep things interesting and prevent the game from becoming just a skin-heavy shooting gallery. Multiple weapon unlocks will give you something to work towards as well.

Something that combines strippers and zombies lends itself to co-op, I would think, and Strange Games Studios intends to comply in a future update (a week or two after release) with online and system link co-op options. Right now, their focus is on bug-squashing, making sure the game runs smoothly, and then the peer review process. If all goes well, you’ll be killing barely-clothed zombies by the end of the year.

Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains will run you 80 MSP when it releases.

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Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains - Screen

Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains - Screen2

Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains - Screen3

REVIEW: 2012

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.