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Zombie Shooter 2 (PC) artwork

Zombie Shooter 2 (PC) review

"Even as a cheap thrill, Zombie Shooter 2 fails to impress, as its unwarranted frustration factor will leave you looking for a more intense and less irksome experience."

My expectations were low going into Zombie Shooter 2. Bearing in mind that its predecessor was a simple, no-frills shooter with plenty of bite, I expected more of the same from this sequel. I was open to the prospect of expansion, but I mainly signed up for littering stage after stage with piles of splattered zombies. I could imagine the rich putrescence that would fill the air in the wake of their slaughter, mingling with the powerful scent of gun smoke. The sight and smell, rotten to most, would be a fond “welcome back” from an old friend.

As it turned out, my anticipation for sameness had set me up for shock. The last thing I expected from a title that prided itself on copious amounts of mindless violence combined with simple mechanics was a majorly upgraded sequel. Out of all the overhauls, the game's new art style caught my attention first, displaying a black and white color scheme reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead. Grainy cinematography joined the foray, hearkening back to the "Zombie '80s." Call me a sucker for retro stylization, but this game was off to a good start by speaking my gruesome language. Here I had stumbled upon a game apparently birthed by George A. Romero and blessed by Lucio Fulci.

The visual improvement let me know that things were going to be alright, and that this franchise was in the right hands. I loaded up the first level, watched a brief cutscene, and--

Hold a tic. Cutscene? As in a bit of narrative? As in plot/story?

I know I shouldn't compare a sequel overmuch to its predecessor, but one thing I enjoyed about the original was that it left me the hell alone. There was no tired, tacked-on tale beyond a basic setup, and the game left me to my undead-maiming devices. This isn't so with the follow-up. Zombie Shooter 2 sports cutscenes with dialogue, characters, and an actual story. I was taken aback at first, but I ultimately decided to maintain an open mind. Even still, watching pointless subplots and one-dimensional characters pop up and interrupt my delicious butchery caused me to grow weary of the experience. I found myself asking how this was an improvement in comparison to lacking a plot, especially since this franchise's core focus is excessively obliterating the undead.

I can ignore awful stories, though, as I'm more interested in playing than following a poorly scripted saga. Unfortunately, Zombie Shooter 2's issues run deeper than a terrible narrative.

For instance, the camera no longer pans fluidly as you move. Part of what made the original impressive was that stages were absolutely packed with walking corpses and nasty mutations, yet there was little lag. The camera glided with grace, even with hundreds of zombies shuffling towards you. Zombie Shooter 2, on the other hand, doesn't hold up so well. The camera constantly jerks as you walk, causing the screen to repeatedly jump. It's a dizzying effect that you never get used to, and it only becomes more irritating as you advance. This is especially so when you're trying to outrun a gang of enormous, high-powered mutants, as the camera's skippy motion can throw you off and even cause your death. It jerks so much that you aren't easily able to dodge the mutants' oncoming lasers, which eventually overwhelm and annihilate you.

You're probably thinking that this isn't a problem. After all, the game hooks you up with enough firepower to mow down a small nation's entire military, so balls to evasive maneuvers. This would be sound logic, except that your shots have a tendency to miss. This is likely due to the game's isometric perspective, which inhibits the game's ability to differentiate between clicking on a zombie and clicking on the ground beside it. Thanks to this wonderful flaw, you'll find yourself delivering plenty of punishment to the pavement and ridding the world of zombies at a slower rate than desired. This is especially annoying when taking on advanced adversaries equipped with health-munching weaponry. Every shot counts when you're against such foes, and nothing is more frustrating than delivering valuable hot plasma or rockets to the ground rather than a mutant's face.

Combine the broken aiming with the awkward camera work and the end result is a shaky mess of a shooter that's far more frustrating than entertaining. Even as a cheap thrill, Zombie Shooter 2 fails to impress, as its unwarranted frustration factor will leave you looking for a more intense and less irksome experience.

Even without both crippling flaws, Zombie Shooter 2 disappoints by removing one of its predecessor's best features. The previous title took a page from Doom's book in allowing you to carry an absurd number of firearms, ranging from a handgun to an RPG. You could blast swarms of zombies with missiles, scorch them with flames, pulverize them with a mini-gun, blow them away with a shotgun, then pick off the stragglers with a fully stacked .9mm. This installment, however, only allows you to carry up to three weapons simultaneously, consisting of one small, one medium and one heavy arm. While some may applaud this attempt at realism, one has to ask if realism was ever warranted in a game such as this.

All of the above flaws are unfortunate, really, because this sequel comes equipped with some fancy new features. For instance, it boasts improved RPG elements that allow you to level up and boost stats during stages instead of between them. New additions don't stop there, though. Remember that the heart and soul of the franchise is covering whole battlefields with unidentifiable pieces, which is something this game does well by including vehicles like machine gun-mounted jeeps and even tanks. Despite the game-wrecking irritation, there's still some great, even cathartic, mayhem to be had in blowing ghouls to bits with unlimited tank shells.

As I said, though, I didn't expect much from Zombie Shooter 2, and it still let me down. Had the developers addressed the camera and aiming issues, it would have been at least passable. Instead, the game is yet another ho-hum third-person shooter with zombies; one of a legion of inexpensive zombie action titles that seem to be lumbering out of nowhere en masse over the past few years. Put a bullet in this one and stick to better zombie destruction titles like Infected or the first Zombie Shooter. At least that one, stripped down though it was, played stably.

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 09, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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