Zombies eh? If there’s one thing I hate more than zombies, it’s Nazi zombies. Luckily, there are none of those in the latest game to escape from Manchebo Games and Rendercode Games, just regular zombies with no particular political affiliation. With a simple look and seemingly simple gameplay, will this game that first appeared on the Xbox 360 way back in 2011 have what it takes to wow the modern day Xbox One crowd?
The story is a simple one, as befits the game. The “hero” or “protagonist” (the main character is never named) has finally managed to score a date with his love interest, a young lady named Carrie. And wouldn’t you know it, on the very day of the date, the zombie apocalypse happens. This guy has about as much luck in his love life as I used to yet, obviously, being a red-blooded male there’s only one possible response to the zombie hordes: kill ’em all! And so, since our hero luckily has a pistol secreted about his person, we can start to rid the city of the zombie menace, one shuffling corpse at a time.
So, with the correct course of action decided, we move into the game itself. Now, I have to say, Zombies Ruined My Day is not the most realistic looking game I’ve ever played. Our hero, the zombies, and even the survivors seem to be on the super deformed scale, looking like eggs with feet and big eyes. It’s almost disarmingly cute, to be honest, and the soldier zombies with their helmets pulled down over their eyes are very amusing to watch. However, if they manage to make their way to your side and touch you, you are instantly transformed into a zombie, so it’s best to deal with them while they are still at a distance. Now, as I touched on earlier, our hero has a pistol with him. It’s fairly weedy, needing a good number of shots to kill even a basic zombie, but it has unlimited ammo, which is nice.
The arenas that he has to fight in are viewed from a side-on perspective, with zombie ingress points all around. On the first level, set in an office, the undead can come through any one of six doors, and helpfully give away where they are going to appear from by banging on the door for a few seconds before bursting in. Our hero stands on the lowest part of each level, and the zombies can wander about, fall to lower levels, and turn around if they hit a dead end. It all works with a kind of twin stick shooter feel to the action – the left stick will see our guy move from side to side on the floor, while the right stick dictates where his weapon points. Luckily, he has a laser pointer on his weapon, so it’s easy to aim, and shooting zombies soon becomes second nature.
There are multiple types of shufflers too, and aside from a regular foe the first new type, the Soldier, is tougher but there is a distinct advantage – if you do manage to kill it, it will drop you a new weapon. These can be grenades, shotguns or Uzis, and while they come with limited ammo they are much more powerful than the pistol you always have. Grenades in particular cause a real mess, as long as you don’t get too close to the explosion.
But there are also other enemies, one type which comes with a hard hat in place. Again, these guys are pretty tough to take down, but killing them gives you a barricade that can be deployed and will force the zombies to turn around when they encounter it. However, this doesn’t last forever, and each time a zombie bangs into it, it loses some structural integrity until it crumbles into dust and they start shuffling towards you again.
Other zombies to take advantage of are the Rambo-styled ones that are as tough as old boots and drop either an RPG or a minigun which are super powerful. The RPG can again blow you up if you hit a zombie too close to you and the Gatling gun needs a moment to spool up, but once up to speed it will shred every zombie in front of you. And with other special zombies you’re going to need every item in your arsenal, believe me. Soldiers, construction workers, Rambos… these all pale into insignificance beside the punk rocker zombie. Yes, it appears there was a punk festival happening in the city when the zombies made an appearance, and if there’s one thing these guys have remembered it’s how to pogo. If there is a more fearsome sight in gaming than a bunch of bouncing punk zombies bearing down on you, bouncing over your carefully placed barricades, I’ve yet to meet it. Of course, as they are bouncing up and down, they are a complete pain to shoot, but it is possible, with great timing, to run under them as they bounce. Not when there’s 10 in a row, mind.
So the regular zombies are bad enough, but a game like this needs a boss to spice things up a bit, and luckily they are all present and correct. After defeating eight waves of regular zombies a boss fight will occur. The first one, a kind of worm thing, is pretty simple, but the second is a zombie helicopter which can only be damaged by RPG rounds. You just never seem to have enough of those, and trying to kill enough enemies to keep your arsenal full is a real challenge.
Talking of challenges, every now and then Zombies Ruined My Day will dump some survivors into a level and task you with keeping them alive. And my oh my is that easier said than done. On the fourth level of the third world, the screen is dominated by a Ferris wheel that the zombies jump into, and if there are too many in a pod it will break and come crashing down. Now, when it’s only zombies, that’s easily mended by culling the zombies in each pod. However, when the survivors are in the pod, the zombies that get in with them don’t eat them and the only way the survivors seem to be able to die is if you either shoot or detonate them. So how do you separate the zombies from the survivors, and only kill the ones you want?
It’s here that another gameplay branch comes into play with Zombies Ruined My Day. You see, each time you have to restart a level, the waves are identical: every time, the same zombies come from the same location. The order they appear in gets mixed up, but the basic waves are the same. This allows you to plan for various contingencies, and if you know that a zombie is going to drop a barricade just in time to block a swarm, for instance, a plan can be formulated and followed. Of course, luck still plays a part, but with enough practice the levels are certainly doable.
So, overall thoughts on Zombies Ruined My Day on Xbox One? Well, it’s not a big game, or particularly clever, but what it does have is that gaming X-Factor; that hook that keeps you playing every time you accidentally blow a survivor up or get pogo’d by a punk zombie. With only three levels to go at, it’s not going to be hugely long-lasting, but you will have fun while it lasts. It may not be a game you’ll return to again and again, but for a quick blast it’s a lot of fun, and the urge to see things through to the conclusion is quite strong. It also helps that the achievements are given out fairly free and easily.