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ESRB RATING: M
I know what you’re thinking… “Oh great, another zombie game.”
You’re sick of zombies. Over the last decade we’ve been inundated with dozens upon dozens of zombie videogames, films, books, comics, hell, even yearly zombie walks in many major cities. You’re done. You couldn’t deal with another zombie game if it knocked down your door and started chewing on your dog.
So was I.
But every time we think we’re out, something like Burn Zombie Burn! is released and makes us remember why it’s so much fun to imagine blowing off their heads in the first place.
This is Zombies Ate My Neighbors for a generation who’s never heard of it, if it was an arcade shooter where people competed for a high score.
When I say arcade shooter, I mean arcade shooter. You’re going for a high score by burning and killing thousands of zombies with a character named Bruce, and if that doesn’t sound like fun to you, well then you can just fuck right off.
You’re given a ton of weapons to combat them with, such as guns (shotguns and uzis and chainguns) and melee weapons (baseball and cricket bats). As you might guess, there are a lot of movie homages in the game, further proven by the game’s most useful weapon, a Dead-Alive/Braindead-inspired handheld lawnmower. It’s all about killing as many zombies as you can, and you’ll have plenty of weaponry to do it with. But there are plenty of sillier weapons as well, like the one that sucks out a zombie’s brain and shoots it out, causing the rest of the pack to scramble after it; or the dance gun that causes the zombies to stop where they are and start breaking down.
So yeah, the game’s obviously not taking itself too seriously. When you see the ballerina zombies spinning around in tutus you’ll know what I mean. A lot of different varieties of zombies change up the gameplay and require different strategies to fight. When you see a zombie with a little flashing hat, that’s an explosive zombie, and you’ll have to stay back from him and make sure no fire touches him till you’re ready. There are zombies with shields that can only be shot from behind or hit with a melee weapon, football player zombies that come charging at you. There are even gigantic boss zombies that fart fire!
The big gimmick here is in the title of the game. If you want high scores you’re going to have to set those zombies aflame using your convenient torch (R2), Zombies set on fire can bump into other zombies and set them on fire as well, and each one that’s burning adds another digit to your combo multiplier, essential if you want to go for a high score. The problem with this is that zombies that are burning are also a helluva lot faster and more dangerous. You can scare regular zombies away with your torch (and run through entire packs of them with it in front of you without getting hit) but if they’re burning they have nothing to fear.
So this makes an incredible system where if you want the high scores (and to unlock more stages, you’ll need them) you’ll have to put yourself at risk. Wait until you’ve got a pack of 100 burning zombies chasing you down and you’ll see how harrowing it is.
The one thing that may put off people from this game is that it initially feels like a dual-stick shooter where you use the left analog stick to move and the right analog to shoot in different directions, but it’s not. There’s just too many different little actions you need immediate access to via face buttons, so to make up for it you can lock your aim with L2, or use L1 to auto-aim at the nearest zombie. Using both of those at the right time is key, although sometimes the autoaim goes a little bonkers with so many zombies coming after you. It takes a little getting used to but works fine once you do.
There are three different game modes that are all about getting high scores. There’s the standard Free Play mode where you try to get the best score you can within three lives, a Timed mode that makes you kill them fast and efficiently, and Defend Daisy, where you’re trying to ward off hordes of zombies from your girl’s car. There’s also a ten-stage Challenge mode that’s fun and difficult and will really test your skills.
CHUDTIP: When using the dance gun and watching the zombies dance Thriller-style, try shaking the controller for a little bonus.
The six levels included offer a nice amount of variety, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s a ton of movie homages… gotta love the Evil Dead cabin in the first level (The Woods). Add a friend and you really have one of the most addictive co-op shooters around. Let’s put it this way- would you rather shoot geometric shapes or explode zombie heads for a high score? Thought so.
Despite their size on screen the zombies are very nicely animated and fun to watch. The slick little graphics are helped by some truly excellent lighting effects, sound effects and death animations. It’s also a damn bloody game, and the ground around the level will soon be soaked through with the blood of the undead, also netting you a trophy in the process.
There are a lot of unlockable rewards you can obtain by gaining silver medals, not an easy prospect. Besides the absolute ton of medals you can get (I will apparently never become a friend of D6), most of the fun here comes from the multiplayer. Two player splitsceen co-op is incredibly entertaining, and encourages all kinds of new tactics in your game. Should you have your buddy run around burning zombies and increasing the combo while you lay into them with a bat? Should one of you stock up on dynamite while the other uses the brain-sucker to lure them all into an easily-exploded area? Just trying to get a higher score will have you playing for hours and hours.
CHUDTIP: The tutorial is essential. Without it you won’t know all the little tricks, of which there are way too many to list here… like combos, the big red button in each level, the proper use of dynamite, etc. etc.
Two things- it’s a shame you can’t unlock all the levels and modes via co-op play (you have to do it all single player), and there’s no online multiplayer. It’s something that I’d request in a sequel, as well as four-player co-op, but it’s no dealbreaker here.
There are updates planned for the title in the future, most likely new maps and game modes, so rest assured that you’ll be playing this one for a long, long time.
One of the best downloadable titles you can grab on Playstation Network right now, if not the best. For shooter fans and zombie fans alike, this is the best 10 bucks you’ll spend.
9 out of 10