Burn Zombie Burn Hands-On
We grab a flamethrower and take on hordes of undead in this upcoming PlayStation 3 zombie roaster.
Zombies have been a staple in games since man moved his first pixel. The undead have been friends, foes, and even protagonists in games. The past few months have seen something of a zombie renaissance, with games such as Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop, House of the Dead: Overkill, and the recently announced Umbrella Chronicles 2. One more game to add to the list is Doublesix's Burn Zombie Burn for the PlayStation 3--a downloadable game that keeps things simple by living up to its name. We had the chance to check out a near-final version of the game and, well, to burn zombies. Lots of them.
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The game features two main single-player modes, Arcade and Challenge, as well as some variations on those themes. Arcade mode has three variations: Freeplay, Timed, and Defending Daisy. Freeplay is a survival-style run that will let you unlock stages by scoring enough points to earn bronze badges. If you earn silver or gold badges, you'll unlock levels and various rewards, such as different display filters and concept art. Timed mode lets you play any level you've unlocked with a five-minute countdown that you can add to only by killing hordes of zombies. Finally, Defending Daisy has you trying to protect your girl and your car from rampaging hordes of zombies. Admittedly, Daisy could save herself if she just turned on the car and drove off, but apparently she's content to hang out and watch you run around like a madman.
Challenge mode is a series of 10 themed challenges that require you to rack up points under certain conditions or by using specific weapons or items. If you prefer to do your zombie killing with a friend, Burn Zombie Burn will offer a modest two-player offline split-screen mode. You can also play the three single-player modes in arcade co-op, and there's a versus mode that has you competing against a friend for the highest score in freeplay and timed matches.
Burn Zombie Burn's story isn't exactly a Lord of the Rings trilogy. The beauty of using zombies in a game is that you can make things as simple or as nuanced as you like. Rather than spend too much time crafting an involved narrative, Doublesix has opted to take the simple route: zombies come at you in waves in one of six themed arenas, and you have to take them out. As everyone knows, there's only one solution to a zombie problem, and that's firepower, and lots of it. Burn Zombie Burn offers you a satisfying array of zombie-eradicating options.
You'll start out with your base weapons, a pistol and a torch, which serve as your default primary and secondary firearms. As you make your rounds through the enclosed but roomy arenas, you'll rack up points that drop more weapons, such as trusty baseball bats, shotguns, chainsaws, and lawnmowers. In addition, you'll find some less orthodox weapon options: a dance gun that forces all zombies to dance for a few moments and a brain gun that sucks the brain out of a zombie and lets you use it as a distraction for the rest of the horde. If the diverse gun collection isn't enough, you'll also be able to pick up assorted explosives. Another useful method of zombie disposal is using the very obviously placed "big red button" in each level when it's ready. You'll charge the button by taking out zombies in rapid succession. When it's triggered, the button will cause an arena-specific event that's invariably bad news for the zombies and good news for you. For example, a rainstorm slows down zombies and makes it a bit easier for you to shoot them up.
Shooting zombies and earning points, which is key to unlocking later levels and bonuses, is fun and challenging thanks to the scoring system. Shooting zombies earns you a modest number of points, but to really rack up the points you need to get a high modifier going by setting fire to lots of zombies simultaneously. The downside of setting zombies on fire, though, is that while they'll die roughly 30 seconds after being lit, burning zombies are faster than normal and can pose a big problem in mobs. To make matters more complicated, garden-variety zombies aren't the only enemies in the game. Doublesix has tossed in eight different zombie types for you to contend with that run the gamut from the expected slow-moving reanimated corpses to explosive zombies, dancing zombies, and the dreaded super zombies, to name just a few.
While you might expect the control to be the dual-stick configuration seen in most games, Burn Zombie Burn takes a different approach. You'll use the left stick to move and the X button or R1 trigger to shoot in the direction you're facing. When you need to strafe, you'll hold down the L1 trigger. While it's a bit different from most of the recent games, the scheme is put in place to allow you to hold down the fire button and charge up blunt objects, like the bat, for maximum zombie smacking. Overall, the control scheme works well, though it certainly takes a little getting used to.
The action plays out from an angled overhead view that's not quite isometric but that gives you a good enough view of the arena. The graphics have a stylized cartoony look to them that works. From what we saw, the game runs smoothly even when the screen is flooded with burning zombies and all manner of explosives are going off. The performance holds up even in split-screen, though we're not big fans of sharing the screen that way.
Based on what we played, Burn Zombie Burn seems like a fun, breezy shooter for the PlayStation 3. What content there is looks solid, but it's unfortunate that there's no online support for the multiplayer modes. The game is slated to hit the PlayStation Store later this month for $9.99. For those keeping tabs, the game will feature trophies and will clock in at 165MB.