Friday, August 05, 2011

Atom Zombie Smasher Review



15 hours in two weeks (less, actually) pretty much tells you all you need to know about Atom Zombie Smasher (£5.99 on Steam).

1) I like it.
2) It has zombies in it.
3) I get to kill millions of zombies.

Atom Zombie Smasher is a cheap and entertaining top down “make the little dots move around and kill other dots” strategy / resource management effort. The pink dots are the zombies. The yellow dots are the people. Save x amount of people before the time runs out with your helicopter or they all get eaten, or finish the level by wiping out the zombies before nightfall.

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The campaign gives you a map filled with terrorities (they all look the same though, which is a bit of a wasted opportunity).

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Each one has a number attached to it, the higher the number the more zombies you’ll find. As the game progresses, the game will change things up a bit with landscape hazards, tougher zombies, equipment malfunctions, shorter days and so on. You'll also gain XP for your units, unlock better skills and so on. You'll also see certain cities filled with valuable scientists, who will allow you to - quite literally - drop some science on the zombie hordes.

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At the end of each level, you’re given a score and then all the territories owned by humans Vs zombies give points added to the Campaign total. First one past the post wins.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to win this game or even come close. No matter what you do, the zombie outbreak keeps spilling into new zones. The 1s become 2s, the 2s become 3s, and then you get a 4 and it’s basically game over at that point. A 4 is an outbreak that turns into 1s in adjacent zones at the start of the turn. After a couple of turns, an otherwise level pegging map with no claimed territories will quickly resemble six billion zombies hunting you down with chainsaws. There is NO WAY BACK from this, and the campaign score descends into farce as a quarter length Zombie bar screams towards the finish line leaving you wondering what the Hell just happened.

Another annoyance which doesn’t help: the squads / weapons you get is randomly allocated before you enter a map. You can guarantee that when you need your best assets the most, you’ll be left with 2 smoke bombs, a road barricade and some C4 to wipe out hundreds of zombies in a very tight time limit.

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Good luck with that.

In fact, many of the 15 hours of gamplay may well be me just sitting there wondering what to do once the Level 4 outbreaks start appearing. Besides swearing loudly, I mean. I think I may well just do that when a real zombie outbreak begins, because the tools you’re given here to do the job certainly don’t cut the mustard. Now the game does let you mod it, and I guess you can probably skew the odds in your favour but I tend to think something is going wrong when you have to resort to that.

I did also consider the possibility that I just might not be very good at this game, but everything was going fine until the Level 4 outbreaks hit. Then it became a random guessing game, the guessing part being how long it'd take to flash up the "Game Over" screen. If you think you can bluff your way through those odds from about halfway through your campaign, or you just want to mash some zombie skulls - and really, who doesn't - then you could do much worse than give it a go.

The music is great, too. But you're not here for that, you're here to mash some zombie skulls. Right?

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