Killing zombies. The concept has largely been driven into the ground. Smaller developers, like Kuju’s Doublesix studio, have taken advantage of this reliable ubiquity, knowing they can have a bit of fun with the mechanics without worrying about marketability. The team previously released Burn, Zombie, Burn! on PSN, but All Zombies Must Die! takes the formula, expands on the co-op options and puts in an upgrade system to combat the monotony of taking out zombie waves.
In it, you move around this city area, working out of your base to scavenge materials, find better weapons and complete objectives. All the while, the game’s characters keep referencing that everything feels like they’re in a video game. We’re thinking that concept’s a bit played out at this point, but there are a few chuckle-worthy moments. The game never takes itself seriously (like, for example, Dead Nation), so just lean back with some pretzels and have a bit of fun.
Where AZMD! really starts messing with you in a Pavlovian way is with its experience system. Kills each give you XP, and completing objectives bestows a large bonus to all players. You collect them to level up at your base, when you get a handful of points to put towards stats. Each character has slight advantages in certain categories, with certain attributes requiring only three points to upgrade and others requiring five. Thankfully for those who want to join in, most experience is shared among all characters, so new participants don’t start at zero and can assign points when they jump in.
The other interesting hook is the game’s weapon system. While many would make this type of game a straight-up twin-stick shooter, AZMD! has a variety of ranged and melee weapons. Want to use a machine gun? That’s an option, but it’s just as viable to hit people with a cricket bat. Rather than just adjust damage modifiers, the weapons feel different, with different effects and strategies to use them. To boot, you can craft advanced weaponry by adding effects to weapons. (We just like adding fire to things.)
The four-player co-op is where the game really shines (and it’s local-only, so plan accordingly), as there’s an element of cooperation to taking on roles. Are you the melee warrior? The sniper? The one that catches everyone on fire? That adds a layer of variety to a game that doesn’t so much supply it with quests and enemy waves.
As a single-player game, All Zombies Must Die! doesn’t hold up well, as it constantly saddles you with wave-killing quests and there’s little to break it up with alone. With friends, though, it can be a fun (if unfocused) experience. Just remember: not even a few of the zombies can live. No exceptions, people.
Pros: Upgrade system, 4-player co-op, weapons feel good
Cons: Local only, weak writing, lack of enemy variety