Zombies continue to be the hot button for games, and nowhere is that more apparent than the digital download space. The latest foray into the undead interactive entertainment arena is developer Doublesix’s All Zombies Must Die for PSN, XBLA and PC. This twin-stick shooter brings some of what you might expect, and mixes it with some new dynamics to make it feel unique but, quite often, repetitive. Still, there is an ample game here packed with plenty of undead massacres.
When you first boot up the game, everything seems familiar. You move with the left stick, aim with the right and fire with the triggers. Zombies immediately come barreling at you with a vengeance, and a shotgun is nearby for your pleasure. All of this feels like well-tread ground. This continues on for the first few segments. The town of Deadhill is broken up into one large map that can be traversed at your leisure. Each area is sealed off by a gate that requires the completion of a task to proceed. These include mowing down a certain number of zombies or collecting an item from a fallen enemy.
At first, this really doesn’t seem like a huge deal, until you start backtracking. Moving between areas quickly becomes a chore as you are tasked with collecting items only to be slowed down by menial requests. Once you establish a home base in certain areas, this is remedied some as you are no longer required to perform these tasks, mainly because you have obliterated all zombies from the area in an event that bears the game’s name. These sections force you to eliminate all zombies in the area, giving you a safe zone where you can purchase upgrades and craft weapons.
This is the one area where the game stands out a bit. You can gather recipes by searching areas on the map and craft new weapons. You can add effects to them and generally make them more effective. You can also spend your upgrade points at these locations, giving you more attack power and, of course, more health. This aspect of the game is actually well done, and being able to farm experience on many of the maps makes leveling up a matter of patience.
The game supports up to four players, and eliminating zombies with friends makes it much more exciting, but be warned you need three friends and four controllers to get your slaughter on. This game features no online co-op, which is criminal in today’s world. Being able to hop online and pick a partner at random opens up the replay value, but being forced to have someone available locally limits the appeal, which is a shame because the game is really a blast when played with friends.
Visually, the game portrays a cartoon-inspired look that will remind you of 16-bit classics without the grain and pixilation. I enjoyed the layout of the map, but there are sections that can get a bit confusing. There is no spoken dialogue, and instead, the developers decided to go with text-only. The main character keeps making references to being in a videogame, which are humorous at times and more cliché at others. The music is standard zombie-slaying fare (if that is even a genre).
All Zombies Must Die is not a bad romp, just a mind-numbing one after a while. You know what to expect after the first 20 minutes, and it never deviates from the formula. I liked the upgrade system and playing with friends, but the constant requirements to move between areas really grated on my nerves quickly. If you can get past that, and the lack of online play, everything else looks and plays great. Zombie-slaying may be running its course, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun blasting the undead again.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.