I used to have a recurring dream; one where I would be alone, trapped in my old school. Outside, there would be hundreds of zombies eating some people I knew and trying to break in; it used to terrify me. I always woke up just as they would break through the door. The dream would always leave me with cold sweats and never able to get back to sleep. The thought of being outnumbered, alone, and struggling to survive has always terrified me.
Zombie Shooter 2 takes the classic “town infested by the undead” scenario and places it into a retro-tinged, isometric RPG shooter. Has casual game developer Sigma Games created a zombie game that should just be left (4 Dead)? Or is this a new dawn (of the dead) for the casual PC market?
Anyone that enjoyed X-Com, Fallout or Diablo should feel right at home with Zombie Shooter’s gameplay. As I played through, my younger brother’s friend came in to see what I was playing and balked at the humble 2D graphics; the exact phrase he used was: “why are you playing a SNES game?”
The storyline is as simple as they come. After choosing your avatar, a single screen of text explains a zombie virus has claimed the town your loved one is trapped in; time to stroll in and save them! Keeping the storyline so simple means that the game doesn’t get bogged down in plot details, keeping it friendly to those playing casually.
There is a certain charm about Zombie Shooter 2’s graphics. Almost everything is presented in black and white, really helping to keep the vibe of B-grade horror movies that is apparent from the title screen. Blood, explosive barrels, and important items still appear in colour. This minimalist approach to colour helps make the low-end visuals appear far more distinct than they would have otherwise been.
The game engine can throw up to 100 of the undead onto a screen at once, giving that great outnumbered and under siege feeling that this genre can provide in spades. Vehicles are also available in some sections to aid you in your crowd control efforts. Some of the larger boss enemies take up quite a chunk of the screen, and with a pack of regular zombies surrounding them, they provide many a tense battle.
Control is a combination of mouse and keyboard that works fairly well. WASD is used to strafe around the maps, and the mouse is used to aim. Right clicking makes your character walk to that point on the map, particularly useful as there was the odd occasion where I became stuck on a piece of scenery; a quick right-click fixed this, however.
Guns are in plentiful supply, more than 60 types: everything from handguns to sniper rifles to rocket launchers are present. These can occasionally be procured from fallen townsfolk, but it is much more reliable to purchase them from one of the many gun vendors throughout the game. These vendors also helpfully supply armour, health, and other useful devices to aid in your zombie slaying. Cash is picked up everywhere, and there are many secret areas where bonus money can be collected.
At certain points, you will meet up with other survivors who will help you out on your travels. The character voices are beyond terrible; at first it felt irritating, but it keeps with the whole “B-movie” feel. The groans of the zombies aren’t too bad, though sometimes drowned out by some strangely chosen techno music when an encounter occurs. The music can be remedied by turning it down in the sound options, but, really, they should have stuck with the guitar thrashing that makes up the other half of the battle soundtrack.
As with nearly all casual games, don’t expect this one to be a sprawling epic like its genre stablemates Fallout and Diablo. Zombie Shooter 2 can be cleared in a day without too many problems. Replaying as a different character and working with different skills changes up the main campaign mildly. The other two game modes also add a bit more mileage.
Under the survival option in the main menu, there are two quite different modes. First up is “Stand Firm”, a typical survival against increasing numbers of the undead. As you fight through the waves, armour, health, and guns can be collected from fallen zombies.
The second mode, “Gun Stand”, involves the player controlling an armoured turret and fighting off each wave of zombies as they approach from all four sides; should they get too close, the barrier protecting the turret is damaged. Too much damage, and it’s game over. Survive a wave and a bomb is dropped, wiping out the remaining horde, after which upgrades can be performed on the turret to give you more of a fighting chance.
Strangely, I saw “Gun Stand” as a representation of the zombie genre as a whole. We barricade ourselves away with our superior technology, intelligence, and firepower. Yet, the zombies keep coming to surround us, no matter how many are killed; death is inevitable.
Zombie Shooter 2 won’t win any of our end of year awards, yet it is an entertaining little piece of schlock horror gaming, and I am glad to have experienced it. For anyone that enjoys a little zombie slaying – let’s face it, that’s almost all of us – this should be seriously considered to pass a weekend with. For the same price as a pizza or a DVD rental, you can’t really go wrong, can you?
Simple, yet also somewhat distinct. The muted colour palette adds a lot of character.
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Nothing new or novel here. What is present though is done well enough, however a bit more variation would have been welcome.
Some absolutely woeful voice acting, you can actually hear the boredom of the actors as they read their lines. Some of the music would be better suited in a Matrix film.
The campaign can be blitzed in a day, another replay of it and you're looking at a weekend of play. The two survival modes add only a modest degree of longevity.
Zombie Shooter 2 is a great little filler for a weekend or day off work, at a very affordable price. Diablo-lite for the zombie generation.