Age of Zombies Review

By Andrew McDanell on January 26, 2014

Twin-stick shooters have been around for quite some time and there has been little in the way of innovation in recent years. With Age of Zombies, this is a genre that Halfbrick Studios decided to tackle, and with that, it came with a degree of of hope that they could take it to a new level. The result is game that appears slightly lacking in today's PlayStation Vita market.

Barry Steakfries, protagonist of Jetpack Joyride, is back again. After a run in with Dr. Brains at his laboratory, it's obvious that a plan to take over time with a zombie infestation is at work. Being the adventurous type, he quickly hops into the portal to face hordes of zombies in different time periods throughout history.

Barry is a no nonsense sort of guy, often talking with his gun instead of deep dialog. When he has to open his mouth, his exchanges are often just tasteless one-liners. True to its crude humor rating score, Age of Zombies is full of tasteless humor that is straight out of a cheesy joke book. Sometimes, when Barry enters into certain cultures, it gets to the point of being unbearable as he begins to spout typical stereotypes and uses cheesy accents.

As mentioned earlier, you'll be dispatching these zombies in a traditional twin-stick shooter way. This means you will be moving with the left joystick, while aiming and firing with the right. As with most twin-stick shooters, your main focus is to navigate around dangers while giving priority to your targets amongst the horde of enemies.

Unfortunately this quickly turns into the usual formula. Forcing bottleneck points, corralling enemies into a fixed path, creating escape points by baiting the horde in set directions, and of course circling around the mass while chipping away at its numbers. It's a tried and true formula, however Age of Zombies does little to shake things up.

It controls well enough, responding quickly to movement commands; skirting around enemies is agile and fun. However the controls become rather flunky when it comes to precision aiming. Often aiming in a set direction leaves bullets trailing off into a different direction. Sometimes it feels as if the analog stick was either never calibrated correctly in the Vita version, or perhaps the limited directions you can aim leaves precision out of the question.

Fortunately aiming accuracy becomes less and less necessary as the game progresses. You'll have so many enemies as your face in the later levels that your primary focus will be to acquire weapon power-ups to mow the enemy down quickly.

The game throws many types of weapons your way, some more useful than others, but all providing a method to killing zombies. SMGs, Shotguns, turrets, grenades, rocket launchers, and even saws. Sadly the saw, a staple in everything involving zombies, becomes the only useless item in the game as exploding zombies enter the picture. You will often end up leaving it sitting on the map, never to be used.

Aside from the saw, the weapon variety is decent and manages to make for some change of pace now and then. Waiting to pick up a turret until after using all your grenades is a must, as you can only carry one or the other. Using the flamethrower in short bursts will maximize its use. Luring large mobs around a turret is a great asset.

Weapons are nice and all, but getting a good variety of enemies can make or break the game. Age of Zombies manages to provide a decent roster of enemy types that evolve over time to keep the game relatively fresh. Starting off with normal grunt types, more durable large sized zombies, then fast zombies, projectile throwing zombies, explosive zombies, and even ninja zombies. Sadly only the explosive zombies created any type of threat in the game, usually leading to cheap deaths. Their presence in the later part of the game is overly abundant and death become unavoidable.

Outside of explosive zombies, the only real challenges were in the bosses. Each of the 6 worlds contained one boss that really tested your ability to manoeuvre and lay on damage. Each featured their own unique attack patterns and movements that sometimes was required to memorize to conquer.

Though sadly in the end, the challenge the bosses and zombies provide may be a bit lacking for most experienced gamers. Luckily for those seeking some challenge and replayability, the game does feature a Survival Mode. Pitting you against endless zombies in an effort to rack up the most points. These points can then be compared with other players on a global or friend scale. If you fancy that.

Final Thoughts

Along with all of its other flaws, Age of Zombies is a short game, offering only 6 worlds that contain 3 levels each. Even still, these levels start to get drawn out, with endless amounts of spawning zombies that leave you fatigued and wanting it to end. Still, the gameplay is decent and the bosses offer a good challenge.

Good visual style.
Challenging bosses.
Decent enemy variety.
Humour gets a bit tiresome.
Brings nothing new to the genre.
Certain weapons become useless.
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