What should have been a lot of mindless fun just ends up being an exercise in frustration and that's a real shame.
While it may share a similar art direction and gameplay style with doublesix’s other zombie game Burn Zombie Burn (released on PSN in 2009) All Zombies Must Die isn’t connected with it in any way that I know of. (I bring this up mostly because I originally thought it was some sort of spin-off or sequel.) All Zombies Must Die does take the burning mechanic from Burn Zombie Burn and expands upon it though while also throwing in a leveling, crafting and well thought out looting system. There’s honestly some really great ideas at play here it’s just a bummer to see that none of them truly connect in the way that they should.
The game takes place in the town of Deadhill where, as luck would have it, there’s a massive zombie invasion. You take control of Jack (Class: Gamer) as you fight your way through hordes of zombies to find other survivors and a way out. The game goes out of its way to constantly throw in ‘jokes’ about how the characters are all in a video game. Every cutscene includes at least two references towards it along with the occasionally terrible reference to a specific game. Littered with “Would You Kindly”, “Resident Rising 4″, and even a “Left 4 Dead” mention the game just doesn’t quit. I don’t know if the humor was meant to come off as ironic or not but I can’t believe someone wrote the dialog in this game thinking it was funny. It reminded me of another recent zombie game and that’s never a good thing.
Luckily the story doesn’t really get in the way of the game and you can just skip the cutscenes if you’d like. Gameplay in AZMD is broken down into eight different sections across the town. (Suburbia, Mall, Police Station, Bridge, Park etc.) Each section is filled with different types of zombies to kill, loot to unlock, hidden items to uncover and quests to complete. The quests in the game usually revolve around killing X number of a specific type of zombie or collecting X number of health pickups. These don’t offer much variety at all and around the half way point of the game they start to become more tedious than fun. This is made worse by the fact that quests are forced upon you to traverse through different checkpoints in the city. Considering that you’ll be doing tons of back tracking in the game the forced quests go from tedious to frustrating. Three of the eight sections in the game are home to a base that you can capture and use for crafting, inventory management, leveling and switching characters. These bases are captured by completing an “All Zombies Must Die” mission but only one base can be occupied at once. Bases are nice as they allow you to pass through neighboring checkpoints without doing a side quest but I hate that you can’t switch characters whenever. It becomes very annoying when you go to one side of the city only to find that you need a totally different character to complete a quest.
Where All Zombies Must Die shines is where it’s an RPG. The leveling system allows you to build up strength, defense, health and speed as well as assigning a ‘preferred weapon’ that boosts certain stats to your character depending on what weapon you equip. It works well and offers a nice sense of progression throughout the game. The looting system exchanges the idea of random drops with the ability to do specific things within the game to get the drops you want. For instance if you kill 30 burning zombies you’ll get firewood which can be used to combine with a shotgun to get a flame augmented shotgun. The same applies to other elements such as radiation and shock. It’s a really neat system that for the most part works well. Unfortunately the shotgun and chainsaw are the only worthwhile weapons in the game. I never felt the need to experiment with other weapons let alone go through the trouble of crafting. (I used the flame shotgun for the vast majority of the game.) That being said the developers deserve props for coming up with a really cool looting system. It’s just too bad you’ll never need to take advantage of it.
All Zombies Must Die makes a pretty good first impression. As systems are being introduced it’s pretty clear that they had the right idea for making what should be a really fun game. However around half way through the repetition of quests and backtracking will likely become too much. Numerous times I ran into situations where I trekked all the way across the map only to find that I need to go all the way back to the base so I can switch to the ‘right’ character. This is alleviated slightly with co-op play but there’s no online in the game which is a pretty big bummer.
Overall All Zombies Must Die isn’t a bad game in the slightest. It’s got the pieces there to be great but a lack of diversity in quests and tons of backtracking go a long way in ruining the experience. What should have been a lot of mindless fun just ends up being an exercise in frustration and that’s a real shame.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
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