I’m a guy who loves his zombie games, zombie movies, zombie t-shirts, etc etc for many reasons. One of my favorites is that they’re a deadly enemy – for everyone one of us that falls another of them rises. They’re vicious without reason, dangerous, and can be pretty damn scary at times, depending on the zombie type. Zombie Apcocalypse: Never Die Alone never really manages to have the fear aspect however, or even most of those other things for that matter. It does have a hell of a cooperative mode at least, but how much fun is Zombie Apocalypse when there are a number of other titles on the market that offer very similar gameplay? The short answer is “it’s not fun.”
Zombie Apocalypse is a cooperative twin stick shooter that is very reminiscent of games like Geometry Wars or Too Human. For those that don’t know those games however, the left thumbstick will control movement and the right thumbstick will control the direction your character shoots. It is literally possible to spin around in a 360 degree motion and fire, though the bullets are not necessarily continuous. Many of these types of games are fun for their simplicity and Zombie Apocalypse is no different in this aspect. ZA even adds some new layers to that system with the addition of specific character weapons and a leveling system.
There are four heroes in this game to choose from – four easily forgettable, but highly annoying heroes that fit nicely into stereotypes. There is a gaming nerd, a cricket lover (the game, not the insect), a priest, and the required female. Each of them come with their own set of weapons, and if you’re playing alone (or even with 1 or 2 others) it’s possible to switch between them on the fly within the game. Switching between them lets you level up each individual character and experience the different weapon combos each one carries. Everybody has a gun and a melee weapon. The melee weapon is an absolute waste of time though and I definitely think it is a pointless addition to the game. On top of these weapons, there are specials that characters that can pick up that drive them into a frenzy, a beserk mode of sorts. Each character has their own special mode where they will do different things. My character, the cricket lover, ran around with a cricket bat beating zombies down. I felt like this was a repeat of Super Smash Bros. Melee – some characters have amazing specials, mine ended up having the pathetic one. Having just the twin stick aspect (without the melee) would have made this a fun game – it doesn’t really need much beyond that, but Backbone decided that was enough. That decision was not the right one in my opinion.
Graphically the game is…well, it’s there. It’s a downloadable game, so I didn’t expect an Uncharted-level of graphics to be put out, but I was definitely put off by the graphics themselves. The game’s look just didn’t appeal to me. It has a dark grittiness that I enjoyed, but I felt the graphics were a little outdated. Enemy and victim models did not change much to me throughout the game and even the heroes look a bit blocky on the screen. I will say though the cutscenes between levels are fun to watch with their comic book styling; just tell the video game nerd to shut the hell up please.
Speaking of the sound – the voice acting drove me crazy during this game. I have never wanted to kill a hero as much as I wanted to kill the video game nerd. The other three weren’t any better exactly, but thankfully they didn’t drive me into a murderous rage. Aside from the voice acting, the music was at least fun to listen to and the guns sounded nice. I never really heard any “thwacking” or whatever from the melee weapons, so that kind of disappointed me. It’s always satisfying to hear a nice crunch when using melee weapons – it doesn’t matter what game you’re playing.
So back to my original question – how much fun is Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone? Honestly, it’s a fun game and even moreso with friends, but I found it lacking in many important areas. The enemies felt repetitive, boss battles became stale after a while and the voice acting made me want to throw my PS3 out the window. Do I recommend people looking for a fun multiplayer experience try this game? Sure, why not? It will hold you attention for a few hours. If you are alone and looking for a zombie game however, skip this one and go for a different title – it’s not worth listening to that damn nerd.
Note: The Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone review was written based on the PS3 version of the game provided by the publisher.