January 4, 2012
All Zombies Must Die is set in the fictional town of Deadhill where, you've guessed it, there's been a zombie outbreak. You start off controlling a guy named Jack, who's convinced that something weird is going on, but as you progress through the game you'll find Rachel, Bryan and Luxo.
The game really doesn't try to take itself seriously, and Jack's storyline highlights the fact the game is attempting to parody itself. The problem is, that it all seems a bit too dry. Characters have a little bit of banter between themselves, but the humour gets old rather quickly, and the storyline just gets more ridiculous/tedious as you play through. It's a shame, because the premise is pretty decent, it just gets overdone.
The gameplay plays out like most other twin-stick shooters, except there's a greater focus on melee in All Zombies Must Die. You're able to carry two different weapons, which can range from a chainsaw to an M16 and you're also able to use your fists as a failsafe. This part of the game works rather well - it's fluid and the character will always do what you want them to do. It's just the other elements that start to bring the game down.
Since the game is set in the town of Deadhill, there are different parts of the town that act as "stages." Each stage is guarded by various gates and if you want to enter or exit a stage, you have to fulfil a task that they'll set for you. If it's a gate you have to pass through for story-purposes, then this is fair game - they are usually a bit more creative. But as the game progresses, you'll find yourself having to go through different gates quite frequently. And having to carry out these tasks gets more and more monotonous - especially as the objectives get more challenging.
You might end up with objective like, kill 30-40 zombies with a cricket bat while they're affected by a status effect. Or, you might end up with an objective that tasks you with picking up x amount of a certain item that's a random drop off a zombie. All this does is serve as padding out the game experience, but in a very negative way. It makes what seems like a short journey, become considerably longer. The only benefit is that you'll gain experience and maybe some items that you can use for crafting. Other than that, it's just time consuming and if you get given an objective that's going to take ages, you're better off just leaving and coming back - unless you're in a stage with one exit, then you're screwed.
This is slightly off-set if you position your base of operations nicely, as doing so allows you to pass through adjacent gates unhindered. But it's still frustrating when you have to branch out a bit.
Aside from this, the game's crafting system seems rather tacked on. By killing zombies in certain ways in certain stages, you're able to procure items which can enhance the default weapons. So, you can make a lighting-based chainsaw, or a flaming cricket bat. But having to kill zombies in certain ways to procure the items gets rather boring and annoying. Killing 50 zombies that are affected by a specific status can't be done at the drop of a hat and the longer you stay in a stage, the more zombies appear. And let's not ignore the fact that the further you get through the game, the more frustrating the zombie types get. It all starts off rather nicely, but later on you get mutant zombies and exploding zombies - it's very easy to die in under a second if you get caught out. The crafting system also suffers from a lack of originality. Each of the basic items can have every status effect tacked onto it and if there were two perfect words to describe it, they would be simple and bland.
It's frustrating, because the game plays well, the graphics suit it all and it's a fun experience, up to a point. The limits were just pushed too far though, causing the game to move from the realm of fun and quirky, to boring and frustrating.
When you also consider that the game offers no online multiplayer and instead offers rather rudimentary leaderboards, it's also a bit annoying. Sure, there is local co-op, but this seems like the kind of game that would be perfect to play online with a buddy, so it's a real shame that it wasn't included.
All Zombies Must Die is a game that fulfils very little of its potential. The gameplay is solid, but almost every other aspect of the game feels like it's shoved in to make it tick all the boxes. You've got a snarky story that gets old very quickly, a basic crafting system, offline co-op and online play in the form of simple leaderboards. It's all rather underwhelming.
All Zombies Must Die! was reviewed on the PlayStation Network.