Over 9000 Zombies! – Preview

Title   Over 9000 Zombies!
Developer  Loren Lemcke
Publisher  Mastertronic
Platform  PC
Genre  Top-down shooter, action, arcade
Release Date  TBA
Official Site  http://over9000zombies.com/

Yes, I know it’s another zombie game. No, I’m not surprised either. Pipe down in front – they’re still relevant and good fun if done properly. At least this isn’t a first or third-person zombie adventure – we’ve had plenty of those, and there are more coming. We need change! We need a revolution! We need someone to shake things up! Over 9000 Zombies! doesn’t ‘shake things up’ as much as gently wobble the great gaming jelly from side to side while trying to decide if it wants whipped cream or not. That metaphor – don’t ask, it’s a higher intelligence sort of thing – should not dissuade you, though.  All that you beautiful people need to know is that Over 9000 Zombies! is a top-down shooter that focuses on the ancient gaming art of killing the undead. You aren’t really offered much of a backstory at the start and are pretty much thrust into the world, which features large land masses, burning buildings and bodies of water through which to navigate.

The premise is pretty straightforward and, like I’ve already mentioned, isn’t looking to shake up the extremely tried, tired and tested formula of aiming and shooting at things that are trying to eat your face. Thankfully, the combat is pretty fast paced and the sheer volume of enemies on screen right from the off keeps things interesting. I’ve had a number of playthroughs and found myself getting mobbed pretty early on. Luckily, most of the early opposition goes down with just one bullet (aiming for the head isn’t a problem here, I’m assuming my guy is the Steven Seagal of the apocalypse, thanks to the top-down view).

The ‘levels’ take on a formula of moving from day to night, and after each ‘day’ you may get an increased number of zombies, some tougher zombies, or some sort of modifier that really fucks things up. ‘Day 7: Enemy Modifier: +5 Damage Bonus.’ Fucking marvellous. There isn’t too much difference between fighting during the day or at night (these are zombies, not vampires) with the obvious exception of things being more difficult to see. As you move higher up the levels, the game becomes increasingly difficult, and without an upgrade to your arsenal and some defensive measures you’ll soon finding yourself joining the ranks of the undead.

Let’s start with the defensive bits first, as they are certainly the more refreshing of the two. As the last (alive) man standing in this apocalypse, going on an all-out offensive most of the time isn’t going to result in you living a long and happy life. Instead, you’re going to need help and security to allow you to survive long term – that’s where turrets and blockades come in handy. Using scrap metal pinched from the dead (perhaps every zombie was out pulling up some copper from a train line when everything kicked off) you can build yourself some pretty neat kit. I’ve got no idea why most of the zombies have got rebar and iron sheets about their person, but just fucking go with it all right, you’re playing a game with zombies in it for goodness sake.

The turrets and blockades actually work bloody well, and once you’ve started saving up enough you can choose a plot of land that looks like it will be worth securing. You’ll want to be somewhere that can be attacked from all sides and doesn’t have any dead ends, though. The rationale behind this is that if one bit caves in (and it will) you aren’t totally fucked and backed into a corner. It will mean a little creative thinking, but trust me on this – getting sandwiched between a wall and Thomas Jefferson will be an exercise in a quick death. Yeah, this game throws a random curveball every so often – Thomas Jefferson turning up to fuck me up was certainly one of them.

If blockades aren’t your thing, you could combine them with some turrets to jazz things up a bit; they come in a variety of predictable flavours, including bullet, grenade and flame. All of this is perfectly fine if you have the scrap to purchase them, and walling yourself in will only force the zombies to try and break down the blockades and turrets. Death is only ever a few steps away, so keeping your levels of scrap high is a must; naturally, securing as much as you can means killing all those darn zombies for it. With that in mind, you’ll need as much firepower as you can get hold of in order to force your point upon these undead bitches. Pistols, machine guns, flamers, shotguns and grenades make up the most of your weaponry. All of them can be carried and switched as and when you want, with each containing unlimited ammo and boasting different rates of fire. Some of the bigger zombies will require heftier weapons, so it’s a clever move on the part of the developers to make weapon pickups a random drop from the undead. There’s a weapon in amongst those three hundred and forty-seven zombies to my left, but can I get there without being treated like a Whopper at Burger King? Probably not.

Finally, you’ve got the random power up drops that do some utterly mental things, such as give you God mode, dish out double damage, or provide you with a gun that doesn’t need to be reloaded. It sounds like the sort of stuff you’ve come to expect from a title with an arcade style and, really, that’s what Over 9000 Zombies! is all about. It’s a top-down old-school arcade shooter that starts off at a decent pace and will end up requiring some quick reactions for the player to survive.

The game is currently in alpha and is part of Steam’s Early Access brigade, not that you’d really notice – I’ve had a perfectly swell time with it and not encountered any problems at all. The developer recently added local-cooperative play and, overall, the game is shaping up to be a decent finished product. It’s not going to be the next greatest piece in the gaming puzzle but it’s a perfectly fine way to spend some time, killing some zombies and kicking the undead ass of former American presidents.

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