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Review: Zombie Pwner
Think about the dozens of games that claim to be in the survival horror genre; Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Forbidden Siren, Dino Crisis, Alone In The Dark... the list goes on. But think really hard - which of these games actually involve surviving? More often than not these games are more about simple puzzle solving (usually keys/levers/obstacles and doors) interspersed with action set-pieces. Surviving is more to do with hanging on and seeing the game to the end, despite the fact that most of these games borrow something from another series!
Zombie Pwner is true survival horror. And it should be noted that survival is spelt with a capital 'S'!
Playing the game involves your standard 1st person controls; aim with the mouse and move with the WASD keys. To most PC gamers this will be second nature and gives the game a 'legs-up' in terms of ease of player familiarity. Gameplay involves destroying all zombies in each environment. Simple, yes? Wrong! In true zombie movie fashion, the undead will attack innocent civilians who will become infected and join the walking dead's ranks against you.
One point of note is the simple use of destructable scenery, something few Klikers include in their games. This can prove both useful, as a form of making escape routes, as well as dangerous as zombies push their way through seemingly safe walls to get to you. Enemy AI is above average as you catch the attention of nearby zombies, thus becoming their new focus. Civilian AI is basic at best, with nothing more than the standard bouncing ball movement filling that void. Very quickly you realise that there are two main tactics in surviving this game, either quickly hunt the initial zombie threat before it infects an innocent or stock up on ammo for the later levels as more zombies begin to chase you. Either way, by the 7th stage you soon find yourself overcome with droves of otten corpses trying to kill you. Survival really does come into play when you have 40-odd crazed corpses chasing you down every small nook and cranny in the medium sized levels. Clearly James Luck has hit upon a great idea for a game!
Though the gameplay premise is fantastic and escaping the zombies can prove thrilling, Zombie Pwner does have its faults. Often you will find yourself sticking to door frames which can sometimes frustrate. Graphically the game is fairly simple to look at. Initial impressions are that the game is very colourful and has much variety in the building tiles. Only upon reaching the later levels do you realise that seeing level 1 really is seeing almost everything the game's graphics have to offer. Blood also features heavily, with shotgun blasts sending viscera and claret all over the shop. Many players will find the blood a little O.T.T. though, especially as the more zombies you murder, the redder the level becomes, eventually changing nearly all of the level red. It's not quite realistic but it does offer some cheap thrills.
Musically the game delivers, the quality being of special note. There are some issues with when it kicks in; sometimes you think it should be beginning at the start of the level yet it doesn't. This doesn't take anything away from the game though. Sound effects for the weapons are exceptionally satisfying, the shotgun being a favourite of mine. Good work overall. So how long will this game last? The main game involves clearing 15 environments of the undead army. If you do manage to overcome that mountain of a challenge then you can play around with the sandbox mode, allowing the player to create his or her own doomsday scenario. Simple to include yet still a nice touch; there's nothing like filling a level with zombies then giving yourself infinite ammo. Shotgun heaven, baby!
James Luke has some novel and interesting ideas coming from his imagination (see Dragons and Death Giver if you want to enjoy his other notable efforts) and Zombie Pwner is nothing but another quality effort born of this guy's bucket-sized brain. Ignore the crude graphics - James admits he is no John Carmack when it comes to coding - and download this game. I will not hesitate to recommend it for those who want something a bit more removed from the usual platformers, RPG's and shoot-em-ups. You never know, you might find it's to die for...
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