" I mean, let's face facts: mindless running and gunning is fun for an hour or so, until you add the ability to bring your buddies in to play. "
Title: Zombie Apocalypse by Konami
Format: Xbox Live Arcade Shooter
Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo
Zombies are popular.
Hella popular. So it's really no shock that the market would be flooded with
zombie-themed games with Halloween right around the corner.
Some of them have been a ton of fun with great thematic elements. Some of them have been garbage with no purpose but to hope you'll blindly buy based on the presence of the undead.
Zombie Apocalypse, truthfully, lies somewhere in between...though it certainly drifts further towards the great than the garbage.
In play, ZA is an almost straight-up dual stick shooter, and one that doesn't do too much to advance the genre. If you've played Robotron, or any game that's come since, you'll get the basics of Zombie Apocalypse in two seconds. And, like most of those games, it's difficulty comes not from intelligent enemies or elaborate scenarios, but from small maps with scenery designed to get in your way.
Still, while it may be cut from the corpse of an old dog, ZA is not without a couple of cute new tricks.
First up are a couple of cute weapon additions. There's the chainsaw, which is a default melee weapon that allows for very quick, very gruesome kills at very short range. And while it is unquestionably little more than a gimmick, it's a gimmick that when combined with ZA's exceptional graphics and hordes of flesh-hungry ghouls becomes very, very satisfying. Then there's the exploding Teddy bear, which is a zombie-attracting hand grenade in the vein of Left 4 Dead's pipebomb or Nazi Zombie's cymbal monkey, the rocket launcher, flame thrower, shotguns, and other shooter mainstays.
Next there's the maps, which--though pretty severely limited in number--have a nice assortment of exploding barrels and zombie-munching hazards to give you the occasional ooh and ah moment.
Then there's the various game modes, which allow you to turn off and on different bonuses and penalties--such as a chainsaw-only mode and a blackout mode which gives the game a very tight "fog of war" around each player.
But, truthfully, all that wouldn't be worth much if not for ZA's most appealing element: four-player co-op gameplay. Honestly, the entire game probably wouldn't have garnered more than a few minutes of our precious, precious time if not for this very critical feature. I mean, let's face facts: mindless running and gunning is fun for an hour or so, until you add the ability to bring your buddies in to play. Now endless waves of sloughing dead take on an element of, if not excitement, then at least camaraderie. At least until it's time to pick up the flamethrower power-ups...then it's every man for his own damned self.
Still, is that co-op element enough to recommend that you pick up Zombie Apocalypse? It depends on how frequently you'll have people around to play. If you've got roommates, or a real interest in trying to find games on Live (which can be hit or miss), then I say go for it. If not, know that you're likely to get bored quickly because, let's face it, aside from some very pretty packaging there's not much new here.
The Good: Very pretty and very gory.
The Bad: Also very mindless and very repetitive.
The Overall Ugly: Fun and worth while if you've got friends to play with.
What it's Worth: Market