PSN Review: All Zombies Must Die



The only thing more played out than twin-stick shooters on PSN are including zombies in, well, anything. With dual-stick shoot-’em-up games not exactly in short supply (and more coming seemingly weekly) and the shambling undead used to undeath in movies, comic books, games, TV shows and probably breakfast cereals, feminine hygiene products and anything else you can think of, the combination of the two isn’t exactly one that should have many people leaping for joy, especially after Dead Nation, Burn Zombie Burn, Zombie Apocalypse, Dead Ops Arcade and all manner of zombie shooters covered that ground pretty extensively. Thankfully, All Zombies Must Die is a pleasant surprise, and while you might well be sick to death of shooting shuffling corpses, developer Doublesix add in just enough layered gameplay mechanics, personality and humour to help distance their game from the horde of mindless zombie shooters.

Dropping you into a city overrun with the undead, All Zombies Must Die initially seems like just another top-down shooter, but soon reveals itself to be more a mixture of Dead Nation and Deathspank. Sure, a massive portion of the gameplay is dedicated to firing into endless crowds of zombies and hacking your way through throngs of enemies with a chainsaw, but the game also has a significant amount of RPG DNA coursing through its veins. Your character earns XP with each kill, you sinks skill points into their strength, speed, etc., you’ll get fetch quests as you explore and there’s a fun and rather versatile weapon crafting loot system to boot.
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Flaming zombies drop wood, killing a certain amount of sonic zombies nets you a megaphone, and so on, and each collected component can be used in your home base to modify your standard weapons into, say, a flaming chainsaw or sonic shotgun. Since raw materials like wood play heavily into the crafting and missions, it’s handy that you can use the environment to change the undead types and collect items as and when you need them; setting a zombie ablaze and guiding him into a crowd creates a horde of flaming zombies for you to harvest, setting off a cop car’s siren transforms those in a certain radius into sonic zombies and shepherding them through toxic waste creates mutant superzombies. It’s a neat idea, and the crafting mechanics add a nice layer of depth to a simplistic, overworn genre. The quest dialogue – while a little too heavy on the meta ‘we’re well aware that we’re characters in a video game’ humour – offers a dash of absurd wit and a few genuine laughs, and there’s a nice sense of cartoony personality to the game, story-wise and visually.

Unfortunately, even with the added RPG elements, the fun of blasting through zombies in a top-down shooter still becomes repetitive pretty quickly. The quests are never more complex than having to kill a certain number of zombie types or grabbing a single story item, which soon gets old. The town of Deadhill is split into a handful of distinct, interconnected hub areas – a suburban street area, a shopping mall, and so on – but the over-reliance on backtracking throughout all those areas to grab a certain item becomes incredibly tedious. The crafting system is fun, and the outlandish modifications are a treat, but outside of the shotgun and chainsaw, the weapons are too underpowered to be of much use, as are some of the other playable characters. Hopping into the game with friends might keep things a little more engaging, but while there’s 4-player co-op, there’s no online option at all.
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All Zombies Must Die introduces some interesting mechanics to a tired and overexposed genre, but the fun still only lasts so long before things become repetitive and tiresome. It’s let down by its simplistic and eventually tedious nature, but if you’re after another top-down, twin-stick shooter, All Zombies Must Die has just enough fresh ideas to make it worth a look.

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All Zombies Must Die is now available to buy on the PlayStation Network Store and Xbox Live Marketplace.