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Zombie Apocalypse (Xbox 360) artwork

Zombie Apocalypse (Xbox 360) review


"While Zombie Apocalypse is never particularly enjoyable, one thing I can say is that if you do play it you should do so with company. The presence of other zombie hunters alleviates some of the game's mediocrity, plus everything gets easier. Alone, it can literally become impossible to deal with every zombie. When others join in the cause, however, things change. Provided you have some semi-competent partners (and I don't really see why that wouldn't be the case), most of the game becomes laughably simple."



Zombie Apocalypse is one of those games that works better as an idea than it does a game. The concept certainly sounds cool. It could be--and is--fertile ground for numerous works of fiction. However, this is a case where "judging a book by its cover" is actually a good move; what you see in the first few minutes of play pretty much sums up the whole experience and nothing ever gets any better than the digital cover art.

Even for an arcade-style game, the play mechanics are simple. You'll view everything from a top-down perspective and will control one of four cliche-ridden characters who are completely alike once you look past their character models. Using your chosen hero, you'll run around killing zombies. That's it.

If you'd like to give yourself a challenge as you slaughter the undead, you can employ different techniques to kill them--incinerate them or push them onto conveyer-belt death machines, for instance--but otherwise you can pretty much just stand in one spot and shoot zombies until you're forced to move to a new location. Environmental kills mix things up a little bit, but they're difficult to use and waste a lot of time that you could otherwise be using to reposition yourself. Since you have to head to the small corners of each map to even activate them, you're likely to die if you decide to take advantage of them. Finally, there's also a teddy bear that you can toss at your enemies. It'll eventually explode and adds some strategy to the game, but you generally won't even need the device until very late in the game.

To break things up, the developers also included a woman in a business suit who must be protected until a helicopter can rescue her. She appears periodically and you can receive points (useless) and another teddy bear if you keep her safe in such instances. Unfortunately, the woman in a business suit isn't one of several potential victims that must be guarded. She's the only character model that ever appears. You'll be rescuing that same woman repeatedly, sometimes several times in one level.

Unfortunately, that pretty much sums up the entire game. There are only about five levels, which in turn are repeated with only slight variations (for example, one might be covered in blackness). Such modifications don't really add any variety to the concept.

Though the game is dull when played alone, it really seemed to have been designed for a multi-player mode. There's one included, so I gave it a shot. First I tried the "Quick Match" mode for most of 20 minutes. It repeatedly searched for games, but in my experience it never seemed to connect. Annoyed, I next tried the "Custom Match" option. This produced a list of numerous games with only one person assigned to each lobby. I didn't think anything of that, other than that it was annoying that I couldn't seem to join any of them. After creating a match of my own, I then let the game sit for a half-hour. Finally, someone joined amidst complaints of connection issues like the ones that I had encountered. Several minutes after that, two more people joined and finally our party of four was complete. The game got underway.

While Zombie Apocalypse is never particularly enjoyable, one thing I can say is that if you do play it you should do so with company. The presence of other zombie hunters alleviates some of the game's mediocrity, plus everything gets easier. Alone, it can literally become impossible to deal with every zombie. When others join in the cause, however, things change. Provided you have some semi-competent partners (and I don't really see why that wouldn't be the case), most of the game becomes laughably simple. Even in cases where levels feature boss fights, you'll do fine if your party members aren't reckless. If you keep playing through more than a handful of stages, you might even have something that vaguely resembles multi-player fun. If you can survive 55 levels of this monotone nonsense, you unlock an ending and a different mode. As stated earlier, though, this just amounts to more of the same thing.

Zombie Apocalypse loses its appeal within 10 minutes as you realize that you've already experienced everything it has to offer. Instead of sinking a few bucks on this mess, rent a movie, buy that special someone some flowers or just look into a different Xbox Live title. In a sentence? Maybe the end of the world is just really, really boring.

2/10

Rating: 2/10

Probester's avatar
Freelance review by Sam Cheung (October 07, 2009)

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