by Chris Capel
reviewed on PC
Zombies are hot
Zombies are hot right now. So hot, in fact, that they’re on fire. Developer Doublesix clearly noticed this and made a game about burning zombies. But with Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption, Dead Rising, Killing Floor and all the other games involving zombies and fire vying for your attention, can this new indie contender take a slice of the undead pie for itself?
The problems with Burn Zombie Burn start, unusually, with the manual. After playing for a little while and not being able to figure something out I went to the online manual to see if it could offer any enlightenment. It confirmed my suspicion (which I will get to momentarily), but otherwise it was less than useless. I’m playing on PC here, so it’s no good being told to ‘Press the Square Button.’ At least Xbox buttons would have been understandable as those pads are PC compatible, but PS3?
This seemingly insignificant gripe was just the tip of the iceberg – Burn Zombie Burn is one of the sloppiest PC ports I’ve ever seen. Customization can only be done outside of the game. The very helpful tutorial advises you “To Fire: Push The Fire Button” (gee, thanks). The mouse control movement is based on an analogue stick, so it is completely inaccurate.
The game itself is designed as a very simple arcade-style shoot-em-up. You run around a stage shooting various types of zombies using a variety of weapons and power-ups, all in order to get a bigger score and unlock other stages/challenge modes. That is all there really is to Burn Zombie Burn. It’s very simple, and should be lots of simple fun. As the zombies build up and include more interesting types the challenge goes up, and it can indeed be quite fun.
Unfortunately, the game gets in the way of that fun. The aforementioned dodgy mouse controls make it utterly impossible to aim at anything with any efficiency, and a crosshair is sorely lacking (ed: Doublesix just released a patch that includes a crosshair). It is a pity the controls don’t work, when games like Alien Swarm have already shown how it is done.
Luckily for PS3 or control pad owners, that is not too much of a problem, so let’s go on with things that are infuriating for everyone. There’s only one stage to start with, and you have to get an insanely high score to unlock the next stage. The score gets higher and the stages get harder, so it is a good thing that there are only a handful of stages or this might have become even more annoying.
Which neatly brings me to my next criticism: there are only a handful of stages. Considering how basic these levels are, there’s really no excuse for not giving players more.
The same goes for the characters. Have you seen that Fonz-like ‘50s biker guy in the screenshots? He is the only playable character, and he’s got about three lines. If he continually quipped Duke Nukem-like throughout the game or had a memorable name I could understand him being the only person. But he doesn’t, and it just smacks of laziness that there isn’t a selection of avatars to choose from.
And that problem I wanted the manual for? It was how to change weapons. This is never explained in game, but basically: you can’t. To pick up a weapon, you run over it, and you immediately equip it. The previous weapon you had disappears, whether it had full ammo or not, so if you accidentally run over a baseball bat (easily done with zombies swarming the screen) you will lose that chain gun you were carrying.
Getting back to the PC version for a second for the final insult, there’s no multiplayer. With the single-player game being very bare bones, not having any sort of co-op, online or local play against other people is just criminal.
Not worth it
For the price, with the shoddy controls and total lack of content, there is absolutely no reason to buy Burn Zombie Burn. Even on PS3 with a basic multiplayer mode and moderately improved aiming there is little here to really recommend. If it were a simple iPhone game for about 99 cents I would recommend it without hesitation, but against all the other great games on Steam or PSN for ten bucks, definitely not. I really can’t see anyone playing it for more than five minutes. On PC in particular, no one should be considering it until a major patch is implemented.
Either way, this is just a simple game priced with more ambition than any part of it had applied to it. Stick to Left 4 Dead. It’s better and, most likely, cheaper.
A fun, simple zombie shooter, good increasing level of challenge.
Badly ported to PC, virtually unplayable, very little content, overpriced.