Replay Value: 4.1
Destroying hordes of zombies over and over can be repetitive. But there are ways to bypass the monotony with creativity and inspiration; Dead Nation is a good example. The problem with All Zombies Must Die! is that both the action and the questing system is insanely repetitive. Couple this with a few extremely irritating mechanical issues, and you’ve got an underwhelming albeit mildly fun game that gets tiresome all too soon.
The visual presentation is actually the high point, as the animations are great, the background has plenty of surprising color and detail, and the effects are better than decent. If Doublesix had opened this game up (it’s just begging for less cluttered areas), we could’ve enjoyed an impressive, immersive atmosphere. The attention to detail is still there, though, and those animations are some of the best you’ll see in the digital zombie shooter category. …yeah, there’s a whole category now.
The sound isn’t bad but we’re lacking an effective soundtrack that puts a strong emphasis on the ceaseless action. Without voice acting of any kind, it’s all the more important that we have a diverse and fitting audio palette, ranging from the smallest weapon crack to the biggest explosion. And the music, while appropriate and kinda kooky, just isn’t prominent enough to push the entertainment to another level. The effects are also almost as repetitive as the gameplay.
For the record, calling this a “twin-stick shooter” is probably inaccurate. In such games, the left analog stick controls movement and the right actually fires the equipped weapon in whatever direction the character is facing. In All Zombies Must Die!, you actually hit the R2 button to fire, while the right analog can be used to aim. Aiming means you have to stop moving, though, which may not have been the best design idea. This leads me to one of the biggest drawbacks:
Look, if there’s one thing I despise in such games it’s getting stuck. When I’m pinned in place by hordes of enemies and I just have to watch myself die – or maniacally mash the fire button to see if I can break free – I get annoyed. I understand the concept; the challenge, of course, is to not get surrounded and stuck. But when you have a game that features nonstop waves of enemies and relatively tight areas, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll get pinned, especially if you’re looking for treasure.
The game does encourage you to look around and find experience, ammo, and other goodies hidden in trashcans, trunks of cars, and pieces of furniture. But you can’t just hit the X button and pick up the hidden goods; you have to hold it down and wait for a while. The better items take longer to locate and the whole time, zombies are closing in on your position. I suppose this adds to the urgency and even forces you to implement some strategy, but I just found it to be another irritating element of the gameplay. Then there’s the control, which is good, but…
Because the movement is so quick and fluid, you almost have to stop and aim with your weapon. Otherwise, you’ll just never be accurate enough running around in circles. I would understand that if it weren’t for the aforementioned pinning problem, and if you were going to opt for this style, could we at least have a way of eliminating all the zombies on the screen? At least for a short while? It just gets so monotonous; there’s never a break and eventually, you just start to get bored.
The game tries to spice things up by letting you craft and upgrade your weapons, but it’s only a minor plus because it doesn’t change the gameplay much. There’s also the option of four-player co-op, which makes things slightly more entertaining. And I have to say, I do like the setting and comical arcade-y theme; I have no problem with games that don’t take themselves seriously. In fact, I tend to prefer them these days. But this one just got on my nerves too quickly and didn’t really let up.
All Zombies Must Die! takes a quaint, simple concept and tries to give us a fun adventure with endless action, depth via upgrades, four-player co-op, and some better than-average technical elements. But it ends up being mindlessly repetitive, the control is smooth but somewhat loose (standing and aiming is the best way to progress, which seems silly), and a quest system that is hardly inspired. It’s just too frustrating and underwhelming to be considered for a purchase, in my opinion.
The Good: Nicely detailed graphics and great animations. Upgrades add some much-needed flavor. Four-player co-op is a plus.
The Bad: Highly repetitive gameplay. Lacking soundtrack. Quests all feel the same. Control is fine but getting surrounded and pinned is common. Inaccurate firing unless standing still.
The Ugly: “Yup, stuck again. Classic.”