Plot: What’s it about?
Zombie Apocalypse was a fun game, a polished twin-stick shooter that let you mow down hordes of zombies with an arsenal of various weapons. Now we have Never Die Alone, a sequel that ups the ante with better visuals, new survivors, and an upgrade system that adds a ton of replay value. The core experience remains the same, use guns to eliminate masses of zombies, but some new additions really enhance the game. Each of the four survivors have a signature gun, melee weapon, and special ability, so each one has a unique experience. As you progress through the levels, you collect cash and ramp up your skills. As you gun down zombies with your SMG for example, your experience level with the gun rises. This is true of your firearm, melee weapon, and special ability, so the more you make use of these, the more potent they can become. You will need to use your cash to buy the upgrade levels however, once you’ve unlocked them.
The shooting elements seem refined, the melee weapons are a fun change of pace, and the upgrade system is awesome. I wasn’t bowled over by the melee weapons, but they’re cool to experiment with and mix things up sometimes. The special abilities are cool as well, from a boombox that forces the zombies to dance to the return to the explosive teddy bear, so all of those are fun to throw out during the zombie onslaught. Each level also has a number of challenges, from not taking damage to time trials to killing quotas, some of which will require you to power up a little before you tackle them. In essence, this is the same zombie carnage we loved in Zombie Apocalypse, but taken to a whole new level.
While I loved the game, I have to admit one of the new survivors made me want to delete the entire game. Jeremy from Pure Pwnage is playable and is the most annoying, negative gamer stereotype of all time. This is someone you would want to aim the guns at, not have to deal with as a main character. The show’s negative portrayal of dedicated gamers is a slap in the face to real life players, which makes having him a central figure here quite an insult. Sadly, in order to level up your skills (with an s), you’ll need to spend time as each survivor, so skipping Jeremy’s playtime isn’t an option. The presence of Pure Pwnage’s Jeremy is a huge drawback to an otherwise fun, even addictive game experience. But even with Jeremy’s 12 year old on a sugar rush negative stereotype drivel, Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone is still worth a look. But please Konami, in the future give us characters we want to kick ass with, instead of one we just wish we could kill ourselves.
Video: How does it look?
While the visuals of the original were polished and impressive, the sequel looks even better. The environments are more detailed and instead of a static location, you progress through well designed levels. The move from arena to a kinetic design was a wise one. The character designs look good too, from the survivors to the various undead that hunt you down. This is one of the better looking twin-stick shooters out there.
Audio: How does it sound?
The sound design is rock solid, outside of Jeremy’s dialogue. This is the kind of person you mute in public matches, but sadly you can’t single out his dialogue for silence. I opted for no dialogue at all over having to endure his poorly written lines, so I only had the subtitles to go on in most situations. The music sounds good and fits the mood of the game, while the weapon based sound effects are effective. And yes, the teddy bear still has the creepy voice to draw in the zombies.
Supplements: What are the extras?