Arcade Review: Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone
Xbox Live Arcade Games
800 MS Points
The original Zombie Apocalypse for Xbox Live Arcade was a smash T.V. Inspired slatughterthon of killing zombies in a single area and moving on. Much like Horde mode or firefight, you fought wave after increasingly more difficult wave of enemies, the types of enemies changing as you went along. Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone attempts to recreate that original arcade feel but adds in longer levels that you progress through, rather than the traditional single area. Does it work to the title’s advantage or does this sequel fall short of it’s predecessor?
Using what appears to be the same engine as the previous title, this game has some good looks to it. Special effects such as explosions and gunfire look as great as can be. Some other effects like a boombox with a discoball effect come off as delightful as you progress through levels. The characters are still not very well crafted and up close they’ll remind you of a last generation game, but given that the majority of the game is done from an aerial view, you won’t have to worry too much about getting many views up close.
The environments look dismal and apocalypse ridden as you traverse through each town, street or trailer park looking for your next objective. Nothing seems to stand out quite as much as before in the matter of destructible environmental objects, but there are still some additions of airplane jets that zombies can get sucked into (that strangely looks directly ripped from the first game) and other environmental hazards. The game looks dated at points but still manages to deliver a satisfying arcade experience.
Not too much has changed from the first title’s control scheme. You still use the left analog stick to move and the right analog stick to shoot. You can choose from 4 different characters who all have a special power and a special type of zombie bait. One carries the classic teddy bear from the original while the others carry such things as boombox’s that cause enemies to stop and dance, a mechanic who has a turret they can lay down and a sniper equipped with propane tanks to blow up. They also come with one special power such as increasing your gun firing rate, healing all players or being extremely fast. These all come in handy when used in conjunction with eachother, especially on some of the mini bosses.
The gameplay itself seems a little lackluster and rushed. Many times you can breeze through a level only to be completely overthrown the next, causing for an arbitrary difficulty level. The best way to play is online with 4 players so that you don’t have to constantly switch between characters in order to use their special moves. The implementation of moving through a level rather than staying in one spot seems like it would be a step forward, but many of the set pieces feel like they could have better been suited to a single area like the original. You’ll find that once you’ve cleared an area, you want to keep moving because going back will cause that wave to restart which can make collecting money a hassle as each zombie drops some and you feel the desire to pick it all up.
The game introduces new boss type enemies and it’s a nice addition to the title as the previous version only used increasing waves of enemies instead. At times these bosses seem cheap and unfair and can take out your entire team in one fell swoop, but other times you feel like you can take them down without a hitch. Again, this lends to a feeling of arbitrary difficulty.
Guns make all of the same sounds they did in the previous title, the teddy bear bait is still hilarious to listen to, although not quite as cute, The music on the boombox is always a treat and the zombies all have their own individual sounds. Smacking the sense into histerical survivors is humorous and enjoyable but the music is near non existent. Much like the previous title, other than the title screen, there isn’t a whole lot to the music of this game. You’ll also find that the character dialogue is cheap and overdone, much like a B roll film. One character in particular, who relates the game to being a game, can have some funny lines, but delivers them in a way that just sounds annoying.
The first Zombie Apocalypse had achievements you could obtain throughout the course of the game and you felt well accomplished but weren’t too difficult to get. Getting all of them taken care of wasn’t a walk in the park, but it wasn’t a grind to do so either. This time around there are some achievements that will require some grinding, such as getting all 100 upgrades for your characters. Other achievements don’t seem too difficult but again, there appears to be a great discrepancy in the difficulty of such achievements. There are the few that will be easy to get such as beating the game, but then there are rather extreme ones such as surviving 30 days in survival classic. These achievements won’t take forever to obtain, but there will be some work to do.
Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone tries to deliver a memorable experience that makes you want to play it over and over again, but you’ll find that the first few levels are enjoyable, but progressing much further starts to feel more like a chore than a game. It has it’s wonderful moments and it’s a great game for multiple people to play, but don’t expect much if you’re going it alone.
- Nice Effects
- Gameplay is improved
- Hilarious Moments
- Good group or party game
- Graphics looking dated
- Difficulty hard to determine
- Not much music
- Polarizing achievements
- Not much single player fun
Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone attempts to add some new elements to the original game’s playstyle and they’ve succeeded in making another enjoyable title, but the madness, the craziness and the hilarity of the original doesn’t seem to be felt as much in this entry in the series. The addition of a small story doesn’t help the game and it was better off just being a mindless game of aim and shoot. Overall, if you’re going to get a zombie game, I still suggest the original title over this one, but this title won’t dissapoint if you’re just looking for a good group game to play.