Over the past few years it seems that gamers have gained an odd obsession with zombies. Everything from hardcore shooters like Left 4 Dead to casual tower defense games such as Plants vs. Zombies have been over run with the walking dead. The latest game to feature these undead dullards is Age of Zombies on the PlayStation Network.
This downloadable title, playable on both the PS3 and PSP, is your typical top-down shooter, much in the vein of the old SNES classic Smash TV. You take on the role of Barry Steakfries, a generic mash-up of various action movie icons much like Duke Nukem, who is at odds with the mad scientist Professor Brain. At the start of the game Professor Brain sends a bunch of zombies though time in order to rewrite history. Of course our hero Mr. Steakfries can’t let that happen, so he jumps into the time portal after them.
The game is split up into five time periods (age of dinosaurs, 1930′s Chicago, ancient Egypt, feudal Japan, and the future), each of which is sub-divided into three stages (two normal levels and one boss fight). One cool thing that Age of Zombies does is add unique enemies for each time period. For example when dealing with 1930′s gangster zombies some of them will try and gun you down with Tommy Guns.
Of course, developer Halfbrick wouldn’t throw you into a game where the zombies out gun you. Age of Zombies features a wide variety of power ups that show up at random on the map, including shotguns, SMGs, flamethrowers, miniguns, and a wide range of explosives.
One thing I really liked about Age of Zombies is that each map has obstacles on it that can either help you or kill you. For example in feudal Japan there are plenty of rope bridges that act as great choke points allowing you to hold off huge (and I mean HUGE) waves of the undead. Just be sure to watch your back, seeing how the zombies are able to warp in anywhere on the map.
Another place where Age of Zombies succeeds is in how you are dealt damage. In most modern top-down shooters one hit from anything kills you. In this game you have a regenerating life meter, displayed on the screen as a red tint. The more damage you take, the redder your screen gets, much like in the Call of Duty series. As someone who is absolutely rubbish at top-down shooters, this method of taking damage really saved me some frustration.
As you can probably tell, Age of Zombies is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. In fact the game is littered with bad puns and ridiculous references to internet memes. While I personally wasn’t too impressed with the writing or the jokes, I can easily see how it may appeal to others. Maybe I’m just turning into a grumpy old man but I’m not really amused by a zombie T-Rex or being told that my poor use of a grenade is an “epic fail.” It is worth noting that despite the cartoonish graphics, Barry Steakfries uses some relatively harsh language, so very young gamers should steer clear.
While Age of Zombies can be a satisfying mindless shooter, there are some issues with it. For one, the game is too short. I was able to complete the story mode in less than an hour. Sure there is a survival mode, where you take on endless waves of zombies, but because there are no online leader boards or co-op, there really is no motive for playing it.
Another thing that bothered me was the controls. You see, in order to shoot in a specific direction, you have to use the actual buttons rather than the right thumbstick. Now I understand that on the PsP there is no thumbstick so you have to go with the buttons, but on the PS3 controller there is no excuse. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve died because it is so awkward to hold down the square and triangle button to shoot on the diagonal while navigating the map.
All in all Age of Zombies is a fun little throwback to the simpler days of Smash TV. Older gamers may be off put by the rather juvenile humor, but the almost hypnotic gameplay make up for it. Thanks to a wide variety of power-ups and map layouts, Age of Zombies is a fun, albeit short, trip through time. Priced at $5, it’s hard to say whether or not the game is worth your money. If you are a fan of the genre and humor along the lines of poop jokes and memes, you’ll probably enjoy Age of Zombies. If you consider yourself to be a bit more sophisticated than a fourteen year old, I’d say skip it.
Gamer Limit gives Age of Zombies 6.5/10