The zombie fad is a breed of mania that, for some, has exhausted its trendy craze and is running on its last legs. But in a world where undead armies plague the course of history, spreading its blight in the form of zombie ninjas, mummies, and dinosaurs – one can’t help but retire this looming fatigue, jump down a menacing time portal, and single-handedly save humanity’s fleshy rear. In this outrageously over-the-top manner, Blitworks and Halfbrick Studios have conjured up a fun and humorous rampage on a dying trend, no matter how undead it suffices to be.
In ‘Age of Zombies’ you play as Barry Steakfries, who some may recognize from Jetpack Joyride, only this time in his ballistic badassery he is surfeiting in the blood and guts of zombie hordes, rendering their brain-dead vagabonding obsolete. The story is straightforward: Professor Brains in all his evil willpower has unleashed his zombie army across all ages of time, leaving our hero, Barry, to size up to the hungry masses and nourish their raging appetites with lead and flame. You’ll bloody a diverse panorama of terrain through each chapter, ranging from ancient Egypt to feudal Japan, each sporting its own zombie populace. In all its B-movie glory, Age of Zombies celebrates an undead lampoonery with zany toilet humor and zingy one-liners.
Surely, the heart of the game lies in its gameplay, which functions as a top down twin-stick shooter with a simple control scheme. Originally a PlayStation Mini on the PlayStation Portable, the game lends itself well to the Vita hardware, and in this respect it is certainly a worthy upgrade. The dual analog sticks provide a fluid sense of control, not only when traversing the landscape, but also when taking aim; to wreak havoc with trajectory weapons such as a bazooka or sentry gun, you simply press the right bumper. Fortunately, nothing feels too laborious or clunky by design.
The aim of the game is to accelerate your ever-growing score by wasting mindless flocks of zombies with an array of assorted weapons. The game adopts some strategy when chaining kills and exercising crowd control. Barry starts off each level with five grenades, three lives, and a pistol gifted with unlimited ammo. He is also endowed with the blessing of regenerative health, so the frustrations of one-hit kills are nothing to sweat over. In this regard, the game is very generous in not starting you off empty-handed. Granted, this does not hamper the difficulty, for there is plenty to be overwhelmed by. The game will provide you with special weapons and power-ups that spawn sporadically throughout the map: it may be the swiftness of a hover board or the aid of a sentry gun that my save you with your last breath. It’s extremely satisfying to paint the terrain with zombie entrails using your trusty minigun, but with limited ammo, one must be wise when resorting to spray-and-pray tactics.
Each chapter has three levels with the third and final level sporting a boss fight, and these bosses are no pushovers. This is when the game is at its finest. While the game lacks enemy variety - with undead hordes only seeing cosmetic changes between each chapter - boss fights introduce a break of pace that diversify the gameplay and provide a challenge unseen in preceding chapters. Consequently, beneath the core of the game’s simplistic blueprint lies buried its own faults. Age of Zombies carries a repetitive gameplay design that oftentimes gets tedious and dull. Mowing down waves and waves of zombies in the same fashion really takes a toll on replayability, and this seemingly enforces the feeling that the game is to be played in short bursts. While it’s a heart-thumping rush to be chased by relentless blood-thirsty swarms, some levels can be unfair in overcrowding you with herds of undead, leaving you with no place to go. This is especially true with some of the later boss fights where the terrain is awfully contrived and where it's common to find yourself being hopelessly cornered.
The game also falters slightly with the aim of specific weapons. Taking a well-placed shot at a boss with a bazooka or rifle can be finicky, firing a projectile or bullet well past the intended target. This is slightly attributed to the fact that your weapon shoots automatically when using the right analog stick. Granted, this isn’t a common occurrence, but it happens enough to leave a sour impression on the aiming mechanic at times. Perhaps this could have been solved with the use of the touchscreen, which the developers did not take advantage of utilizing with this port, though that isn’t a drawback by any means.
When all is said and slaughtered, Age of Zombies is a fun pick-up-and-play arcade title that will occupy your time when you’re sitting on the bus waiting to reach your next destination. It has vibrant 2D graphics with a screwball soundtrack to boot. The off-color humor might reel in a smile if that’s your thing, but most importantly, it’s bloody fun to play. And I mean really bloody. It might not satisfy your crave for something new or different, especially if you’ve played the original on the PSP. While it can get tedious in stretches, underneath the repetitive but simple gameplay is buried something of interest: no, not a mindless zombie, but rather pure mindless fun.
|Age of Zombies Review by Alex Machado|
-The Final Word-
When all is said and slaughtered, Age of Zombies is a fun pick-up-and-play arcade title that will occupy your time when you're sitting on the bus waiting to reach your next destination. While it can get tedious in stretches, underneath the repetitive but simple gameplay is buried something of interest: no, not a mindless zombie, but rather pure mindless fun.