Saturday, September 26, 2009

Zombie Apocalypse Trial Impressions

Being a zombie fan, I was eagerly awaiting Zombie Apocalypse. In many respects, it looks like a simplified, top-down version of Left 4 Dead, but for a significantly cheaper price. So, I downloaded the Trial this past Wednesday and set out to give it a whirl.

I couldn't even finish the Trial before turning it off. It was that poor.

Zombie Apocalypse sees you taking control of one of four survivors combating hordes of the undead. The game's levels are set up on arena like maps, and wave after wave of undead will spawn in and try to swarm you. There are several variety's of zombies to keep things fresh, and every now and again a non-player survivor will appear that you can protect until she gets picked up by a rescue helicopter. Fail to defend her and she'll become infected and attack you along with the real zombies.

At your disposal are a Rifle and Chainsaw, which is great for crowd control, and you can pick up a Shotgun power up and get a Teddy Bear item that attracts the Swarm directly to it, much like the Pipe Bomb in Left 4 Dead. This can be great for taking the heat off of you when you need a breather or to strategically protect something, like a Survivor, however note that Infected Survivors are _not_ lured by the Bear and will always attack you.

One of my largest problems with the Trial is the controls itself. Aiming and firing your Rifle/Shotgun are handled via the Right Stick: simply point it in the direction you want to fire, but personally, I've also disliked this method of control and it's an instant turn off for me. While I have no issue controlling the Camera with the Right Stick, I prefer to leave my firing controls elsewhere. Maybe it's just me, but the whole setup seems less precise and more tedious.

I also would have enjoyed the Trial a whole lot more if the zombie hordes would have started off moving more slowly instead of sprinting at you right away, giving you time to simply have some fun and get a feel for the game. Instead, you're overwhelmed quite quickly and have little time to think up any defensive plans, and I found this more frustrating than a challenge.

Graphically, the Trial looked good for an Xbox LIVE Arcade title. There was never any issue identifiying the various types of enemies, Survivors, or power ups, and the sound effects are what you'd expect from a simple zombie game.

Personally, Zombie Apocalypse was a huge let down and not my thing at all, and I certainly won't be shelling out my 800 Microsoft Points for it. I'd rather wait for an additional price drop on Left 4 Dead itself, which is coming down quickly due to the sequel's November release.

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