by Richard Edwards
reviewed on PC
The Town of Deadhill Is Back
All Zombies Must Die!: Scorepocalypse is a stand alone game based on the existing All Zombies Must Die!. You don’t need the original to play, and you certainly don’t need to have played it to understand what’s going on in this chaotic twin stick shooter.
Some games are all about subtlety. Other games are all about non stop, relentless action. This game is definitely the latter. Players take the roll of ‘last action hero’ McJagger whose sole purpose it is to rid the zombie infested Deadhill town of the living dead.
In most ways All Zombies Must Die!: Scorepocalypse is standard fare for the shooter genre. The controls are what you would expect; the keyboard moves McJagger about and your mouse is used to point your gun in the right direction. What sets this game apart is its execution. Instead of simply running backwards and firing forwards for the entire match you are forced to hunt and scavenge for materials to stay alive. There are enough items to see you through to the end of the game, but if you forget to explore your gun will run dry and may get overwhelmed by the zombie masses. Yet exploring brings its own risks as well. The time it takes to fully explore a hiding place can give the zombies enough time to gang up on you. And ganging up they certainly do. Your screen will be painted green with droves of ghouls at any given time and there is never a shortage of targets.
All Zombies Must Die!: Scorepocalypse reuses a lot of the original content from All Zombies Must Die! but also adds new content. You will revisit familiar maps such as Suburbia, The Town Square and The Shopping Mall but also stomp around some new ones. The Graveyard is the last place you should go during a zombie invasion but there is no stopping our fearless McJagger. When he has finished up there, it is on to the Military Base for another interesting shift in scenery.
There is little in the way of mission flow. With every new area you enter, you can expect that at some point a civilian will need rescuing. As soon as the civilian appears, the action turns into a hectic session of ‘let us peel zombies away from the helpless survivor’. One way to do this is to lure them just far away enough to kill them safely but keeping this up before you hit the time limit quickly can be a real challenge. If you can’t move fast enough, or deal enough damage, things soon get ugly. If you fail to protect the civilian or die defending him, you try again the next time around though. Nothing stops you in your quest to shoot, burn or poison the zombies in Deadhill.
The ‘environment’ is a major and very useful aspect of Scorepocalypse. Burning cars, toxic barrels, loudspeakers, police car sirens and all sorts of other things can be used to deal damage to the zombies. A near constant stream of mini missions is used to persuade you to use these things to fight your way through the horde and this is a great way to familiarize yourself with all the available options.
Naturally, there are also more… traditional methods of ridding yourself of the hordes of undead who, incidentally, have been reinforced by three new zombie types named the Soldier, the Necro and the Ghost. Two brand new and powerful weapons have been added to your arsenal. If you can survive chaos mode for long enough, you’re rewarded with either a rocket launcher or a minigun (whoever named these things must have been drunk at the time). Limited ammo availability makes these weapons something that you want to hold onto for a special occasion though.
In between missions, McJagger can customize both himself and his weaponry at the base. Levelling up in the field is achieved by collecting z’orbs that appear whenever a zombie bites the dust. They can then be spent on increasing one of the several stats that are vital to survive the harder waves. Pieces of equipment can be picked up after completing ‘loot waves’. These can then be attached to your weaponry, leading to All Zombies Must Die!: Scorepocalypse undoubtedly being the first game ever to allow you to duct-tape a megaphone to a laser pistol.
If you have the space around your computer the multiplayer component can bring new joys to the game and push it to new heights. In theory, up to three people can join the zombie slaughter fest. In reality, you shoot each other in the back before having a heated debate about whether friendly fire should be switched on or off. Although friendly fire makes the game a lot harder, you are also provided with a valuable new lifeline: if you succumb to the hoard your friends (if you can still call them that after killing you), they are given the opportunity to resurrect you. Such gifts don’t come easy though: they are required to stand in the place where you died for as a bar counts up agonisingly slowly towards the moment of your resurrection. Instigating further discontent between you and your friends, awards are given out at the end of the multiplayer session, showing everyone exactly who was useless and who was carrying the rest of the team.
Unfortunately I should also note that switching the game between single and multiplayer proved to be harder than it should have been. It even required a restart of the game at one point. Sadly, the game only supports local co-op, making and while it is fun being able to see the look on each other’s faces when that player nabs the minigun again, it would have been better served with an online component.
All Zombies Must Die!: Scorepocalypse is a highly polished game featuring charming graphics that belie its gruesome topic. But most of all, it is genuinely fun to play and chasing high scores on its online leaderboards offers a great, lasting challenge.
Getting the high score proves to be very addictive, especially in multiplayer.
A confusing interface leaves mission objectives unclear at times.