Review: All Zombies Must Die! (XBLA)

Review: All Zombies Must Die! (XBLA)

Before going into this review, there’s something you should know about me and my stance on zombies. In a conversation about zombies, I’m the guy vociferously and loquaciously pontificating about the oversaturation of the aforementioned subject matter in the highly enjoyable and addicting medium of video games. When done right, a zombie game can be fun. The issue is that zombies as a trend have become so popular that developers will randomly put zombies where they don’t belong (World War II, the Wild West, etc.) in order to capitalize on the popularity of said trend. That being said, I have no issue with zombies when done right, which brings me to All Zombies Must Die!

All Zombies Must Die! is not a perfect zombie game. The premise is extremely thin, with no real explanation of why you find yourself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, or…well, anything, really. You just kind of jump in and start playing. Is the zombie outbreak localized, a la Shaun of the Dead, or more of a global pandemic, a la Zombieland? Is it a mystical reanimation of the deceased, or a viral/biological corruption of the living? In All Zombies Must Die!, you simply become aware of the situation, comment on it in passing, and start punching, swatting, and shooting the swarming hordes. I would go so far as to posit that this game would be harmed by an explanation or reasonable story. The cartoonish arcade feel of the game lends itself well to simply accepting the fact that zombies are everywhere, and proceeding with the joy of turning each and every one of them into a pile of useless body parts. A story would get in the way of the simple acceptance and fun that the style of the game is attempting to provide.

I suppose you could call All Zombies Must Die! a twin-stick shooter, but it’s not the label I’d give it. The right joystick only handles aiming, not actually firing (which is handled by the RT). While there are many similarities to twin-stick shooters in general, that one major difference bumps it safely out of the sub-genre, in my opinion. For the most part, the controls work very well. Movement is easy and responsive. Aiming can be clunky at times, but again, for the most part, remains fairly accurate and precise. Attacks are not focused on a single target, and have a wide range of effect. You can stand in front of a horde of zombies that have piled themselves up in a 90+ degree range, start punching, and see all of their attacks interrupted and all of their health affected. The strategy of running and gathering as many zombie tails as you can before doing an about face and punching, sawing, or shotgunning a tightly packed group of zombies is one I used more often than not.

It seems that doublesix tried to extend the length of the game by forcing the player to run back and forth through multiple areas for fetch quests and other minor missions rather than developing a fuller, more linear progression. It’s like an open world game that’s the size of an apartment; forward progression is often hampered by multiple steps backward into previous areas. This forced experience of replaying the same levels with no major motivation aside from having to pass through it to get to the previous level really damages the level of enjoyment you can get out of this game. With friends, it becomes more bearable. Luckily, All Zombies Must Die! includes local co-op multiplayer for up to four players, giving you and your friends a fun pick-up arcade game. Unluckily, those friends will need to be local and willing to make the trip to your house, because local co-op is the ONLY multiplayer option that All Zombies Must Die! offers.

All Zombies Must Die! gives you the visual and audio style of a cartoon aimed at older children; it’s kooky and fun without being too roundly cartoonish, if that makes sense to anyone but me. So much for the art of writing being the clear and concise conveyance of ideas and thoughts, right? Anyway… All Zombies Must Die! is a fun game with visual and gameplay similarities to a standard twin-stick shooter, minus the twin-stick shooting. You can play with friends, locally, which further enhances the feeling that this is the kind of game that belongs in an arcade cabinet. Unfortunately, you can only play with friends locally, so the more remote of you out there, or those of you with jerk friends who don’t like hanging out with you, are stuck in single player only. The gameplay becomes incredibly repetitive with a great deal of the game played going back and forth between visited areas. If you’re a major fan of zombies, then this will be a fun game for you. If you’re just a fan of arcade-style games without rhyme or reason, you’ll enjoy this one. If you’ve got three friends who spend a lot of time on your couch, drinking your drinks, eating your food, and playing your games, then this is a great game to jump into. If you enjoy games that continue to provide you with new content and experiences throughout, you’ll find yourself bored. If you don’t have any friends in real life, or in your area, and love playing games multiplayer, you’ll find yourself forever alone. If you hate fetch missions, you’ll hate this. For the price, it’s fun, but make sure it fits your style and personality before buying it.

Review

ProsCons
Great visual and audio style
Local multiplayer
Great arcade feel
Local multiplayer ONLY
Repetitive gameplay
Fetch missions across previously played areas
Rating
70 out of 100
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