Burn Zombie Burn! Review
Here’s a fun personal memory for you: I distinctly recall walking into my friend’s house all these years ago (I won’t tell you how many years, but you can probably guess), and he was sitting there in front of the TV, playing a game…and literally sweating. It was the middle of winter and he had actually turned the heat down because he was “getting hot.” I looked at the screen and saw what appeared to be a chaotic maelstrom of nonsense; a senseless swarm of insanity, and I barely perceived a tiny different-colored character in the middle, spinning around and trying to shoot everything in the vicinity. It was SmashTV, so when I heard about Burn Zombie Burn and I realized the concept was similar, my ears perked up and I quickly got all nostalgic…as you can see. So now this hectic, entertaining game is on the PSN for only $9.99, and we’re here to tell you that it’s worth the price of admission. Yeah, sorry; it’s another PSN title that you’ll probably want, especially if you like the idea of frantic, nonstop action. And we know you do.
As you might expect, the graphics aren’t a major focal point as the entire emphasis is firmly centered on the finger-cramping gameplay. But at the very least, there are many different zombie designs, which definitely adds a lot in the way of extra flavor, and the animations are fluid throughout. On the downside, we expected a little more in the way of flashy, crazy effects – bloody zombie pieces flying all over the place, or massive fallout caused by massive weapons – and what we have is a little repetitive. The problem is, you spend such an extended amount of time in one level that the backdrop, while solid and fitting, gets tiresome within the first few hours of play. But then again, you really won’t have time to examine the landscape, and with the entertaining animations, cool weapons and multiple zombie types, you likely won’t have much to complain about. The coloring is just about right, considering the atmosphere – yeah, it’s a little dark, but whatever – and besides a decided lack of variety, there are no major detractors.
The sound is similar, in that the soundtrack and sound effects are great, but with the constant, unending action that can last for a very long time, it’s easy to get bored with the audio. But hey, if you’re ever “bored” with Burn Zombie Burn, then you’re a zombie yourself. Like we said, the sound is great: the music selection is pretty damn good (and for some reason, a bit amusing) and a distinct, crystal clear effect accompanies each weapon and action you perform. We think some of the weapon effects could’ve been brought out more – we wanted more crackling and burning with the Flamethrower, for example – and for once, we found ourselves asking for more cheesy exclamations from the main character. He says something straight out of an old-school B horror movie when a level starts, but then he goes quiet…how come? Usually, we hate it when a developer goes nuts with the cheesy voices, but in this case, they would’ve actually helped. Anyway, much like the graphics, the sound is good from top to bottom, despite the inherent repetitive nature of the game.
Even if you never played SmashTV and you have no clue what this game is about, you could probably make a few accurate assumptions based on the title, Burn Zombie Burn. There are zombies and…they burn. Or die. In some way. Aaaand, that’s about it. But we’ll go into further detail ‘cuz it’d be such a lame review otherwise, right? So you’re this dude who only wants to spend time with his girlfriend, Daisy, but unfortunately, there’s a sudden and seemingly ceaseless invasion of undead nasties, and you have to go on a killing spree of epic proportions. You run around, avoiding contact as best as humanly possible and constantly taking down swarms of zombies that are hell-bent on eliminating you from the face of the earth. You will find weapon and health pickups littered throughout each small level – all you have to do is run over them – and you will always have your primary and secondary weapon. You use the R1 button to fire whichever weapon you have equipped, and your default secondary weapon, used with the R2 button, is the Flamethrower.
Certain power-ups will help that flame leap far and wide, but just remember that torched zombies are pissed, and will pursue you with renewed vigor. You can also pick up other secondary special weapons, like one special item that stops all the zombies in pursuit and causes them to dance. While they’re standing there dancing, you can rip ‘em apart however you see fit. Nifty, no? The primary weapons range drastically, starting with your default handgun and moving up through machine gun, shotgun, and chainsaw. One of our favorites was the lawnmower, which chopped our foes into fine little bits and all we really had to do was run through the swarm. The best part about the weapon selection is that each firearm is effective in its own way, and it requires that you adopt a slightly different tactic. For instance, it may seem like a good plan to run through a swam with the chainsaw, but you’ll get nailed; it’s far preferable to stay on the outskirts and just tear them up as you run in circles.
The good news is that you’re typically faster than most zombies so the key is to keep moving and avoid getting trapped. You must also become extremely adept at squeezing between tight spots and emerging unscathed; head-faking zombies works pretty good, too, as they’re just brain-dead brain-eaters who head straight for you at all times. It also takes some strategy to figure out the best time to run rampant with the flamethrower, and you have to stay on the lookout for health pick-ups. Last but certainly not least, you need to keep your distance from certain zombies while getting up-close-and-personal with others is the best plan. For instance, the undead with their heads flashing like a beacon will explode when they die, and the ensuing blast radius is surprisingly large. But the dudes with the shields that deflect all bullets can be easily destroyed with a chainsaw to the face. Obviously, the huge enemies can cause tons of damage and you really can’t go toe-to-toe with them, but that goes without saying. Basically, despite all the nonstop action, there is a good bit of strategy involved.
Not that it overrides fast reflexes, though. That’s the entire point. Everything works very well; the frame rate remains stable at all times, the available weapons are diverse and balanced, the variety of zombies forces you to adapt on a continual basis, and with three different main modes (Free Play, Protect Daisy, and Timed), the game’s longevity is quite high. It’s also high due to the addictive nature of the gameplay, which is exactly what we were looking for. However, there are a few issues. Like we stated before, you can spend a great deal of time in one level, and each area is very small. We understand the intention; it’s to keep the pace of the game jacked through the roof, as the marauding zombies will always be within a few feet of you. But it still gets more repetitive than it has a right to and we could’ve used more size and more unique areas. We also didn’t like the fact that damage incurred didn’t seem to rely too heavily on the type of attack that hit you; we lost the same amount of HP after getting swiped by a single zombie as we did when caught directly in the blast from an exploding zombie. …what?
Also, the kick mechanic just seems tacked on and almost worthless. You have to use it every now and then – it’s a requirement for the first Challenge – but in regular gameplay, it’s basically useless. On the flip side, we really liked the auto-aim option. See, you just fire in the direction you’re aiming with the left analog stick but as this is nowhere near as accurate as it should be, you can hold down the L1 button, and your character will automatically aim at the nearest zombie. You can strafe and even run backwards and if you want to experience success in any way, you absolutely must use the L1 button a whole lot. The only problem is, it feels too much like a requirement rather than an option, so in some ways, that can be considered a design downfall. In the end, though, Burn Zombie Burn is wildly entertaining and well worth the ten bucks. The different modes don’t mean the game changes much, but why should it? It’s just plain fun the way it is, and if you’ve got a few friends, get ready to jack the hysterical intensity through the roof.
The PSN has plenty of quality titles already, and here’s another one. It doesn’t take much in the way of brainpower, but that’s good: it’s the perfect complement to games like echochrome and Cuboid. Light ‘em up, chop ‘em up, shoot ‘em up; whatever’s up your alley. We promise you’ll have a blast.
4/6/2009 Ben Dutka