I’m unsure when it became the fashionable point of view to say that zombies in videogames have become stale but it’s not an opinion that I hold personally. I believe that the common zombie is the perfect fit for my past time of choice as it allows developers the freedom to put as much on the screen as possible without having to worry about processing AI for the already brain dead. A genre does not become stale because the enemy does not change, it dies when developers decide to cash in and produce any old muck and attach the latest ‘in’ thing to sell a few more units.
Double Six have decided to join the undead party with the release of All Zombies Must Die on XBLA. Have they treated us to a fresh spin on a tale which many people are starting to tire of or are even zombies sick of the taste of brains and flesh?
It’s Your Own Creation - So All Zombies Must Die is a top down, isometric, twinstick shooter! It all sounds incredibly generic and the experience is entirely that, but the saving grace of the title are the light RPG elements that have been woven into the game. Fire and guns can be crafted together to add an extra fiery kick, mobile phones can be taped to megaphones to scramble the already messed up Zombie mind and the characters themselves can be levelled up to increase health, speed, damage etc. None of it is very deep but it’s a welcome distraction in a game that gets pretty damn dull pretty damn quick.
Lightening the Mood - There are four characters to unlock throughout All Zombies Must Die. Jack is the opening and main character but throughout the experience you will meet your long-suffering girlfriend, a nutty professor and an egg headed friendly alien. They are all characters that you will have encountered (probably enjoyed more) in other games but Jack can be entertaining in the fact that he spends the campaign referencing how similar to a video game his personal zombie apocalypse is turning out to be. It can get quite irritating but every now and again he’ll spout a line that will at least have you chuckling to yourself.
IF ALL ZOMBIES WON'T DIE THEN PLEASE KILL ME
Fetch This, Kill That - To progress in All Zombies Must Die you will be asked by various characters to fetch them a particular item from a specific area. Almost every quest will play out as follows: I need object X and in order to get it you must travel to location Y and kill a set amount of zombies in a particular method. In order to get to location y you must pass a series of automated gates that will only open if you fulfil an objective for the gate. That objective is, of course, to kill a set amount of zombies in another particular fashion. Please let the reanimated corpses eat me alive!
Insert Generic Caption Here - It may already appear pretty obvious, but All Zombies Must Die is incredibly devoid of any invention, creation or ambition. Every element of the game is obviously “borrowed” from earlier and better games. The game features 4 playable characters and the twinstick shooter element meant that it was ripe for some sort of online co-op experience and it could have had some salvation if this mode had been included but it is symptomatic of the game that the developers resisted the temptation to include anything that would have evolved it to be above average.
I’ve played a lot of zombie games over the years. Dead Rising was a great slash em up with clever RPG elements. The Resident Evil games could make you laugh and scare the bejesus out of you in equal measures. Left 4 Dead is a brilliant c-op survival zombie shooter and even the recent underwhelming Zombie Apocalypse had a redeeming co-op element. All of those games bought something unique to the table, but All Zombies Must Die is the embodiment of a cheap and lazy cash in at the end of the latest fad. It stole successful ideas from all these games and tried to replicate them... badly. It is almost entirely devoid of any reason to play and even at the modest asking price of 800 Microsoft Points it is way overpriced. Is the zombie genre dying? Well, if we see more titles like this, they’ll be shambling back to their coffins and begging us to hammer the nails back in.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*