Over 9000 Zombies – PC Review

Over 9000 Zombies is a top down twin stick shooter developed by Loren Lemcke and published by Mastertronic.  The game began as a Steam Early Access title on 7/2/14.  This review is based on V0.1.6.0 which was released on 10/30/14.  A steam code was provided for this review.  

Your goal in Over 9000 Zombies is to survive as many days as possible while racking up as many kills as you can. The waves are counted in days, each day progresses through a wave of zombies, and eventually other creatures as well.  Some days will throw all of the same zombie at you, other days will be a mix of different zombies. Unlike your everyday average slow shuffling zombie, this game features different zombies that are slow, fast, or even able to shoot fireballs at you. If you survive those you will start to see other enemies like zombie dogs, crabs and birds, all with unique abilities and weaknesses.

Helping you to fight back the undead hordes, you will have guns, grenades, and turrets to use, as well as power ups that are occasionally dropped. Scrap metal is also dropped, which is your currency to build turrets and repair existing turrets, you also have options to build two types of barriers to limit the flow of zombies. The current build of the game limits you to 6 active turrets, with a range of choices available from flame throwing to grenade launching to plasma firing. Turrets can be placed anywhere on the screen and automatically target the incoming horde of zombies.

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The build menu in action!

 

In its current state the game does not feature any story line, but as an arcade shooter you probably shouldn’t be looking for much in the way of story.  The music in the game I found to be very fitting with the game and aiding the frantic pace of the game. Graphically I would say the game is pretty clean (and thankfully not 8-bit style) although the scale is such that your character and enemies are very small on screen, so it can be difficult to tell what’s going on. Graphical touches like blood splatter as you hit enemies and bullet shells spraying around help to add some character to the game.  A recent addition to the game is a chance encounter with a famous zombie, in all my playing time I have run into Zombie Thomas Jefferson twice.  These zombies are only distinct in that their name is seen next to them, and they carry a great deal of health, requiring lots of ammo and grenades to finish them off.

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Zombie Thomas Jefferson, hungry for brains.

 

The guns available in the game vary from shotguns and handguns to sci-fi plasma guns. My favorite so far has been the chain gun which takes a bit to spin up but then spits out a torrent of bullets. A reload function is available but if you reach the end of a clip the gun reloads so I haven’t found much use for reloading in the game. There is a graphic next to your character that shows how many bullets you have left before a reload will be needed but its small and blends into the background.  Power ups in the game include Super Speed, God Mode, Fast Firing, no reload, and Incendiary rounds.  The power ups are timed and expire after 12 seconds.

My in game inventory of guns at one point showed 23 guns available to choose from and I think a few more can be picked up during the game.  Ammo is not a concern in the game, as it is not one of the items that can be picked up. Scrap, health, and grenades are the resources you need to manage. I played the game with Mouse/Keyboard controls but controller support is also available. Pressing B in game brings up the simple build menu where you can select turrets or barriers to build and then aim where you want the item and hit fire to build it. The scroll wheel on the mouse can be used to cycle through weapons, or you can hit the I key to bring up the weapon inventory.

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I have a plethora of guns!

 

The zombie hordes tend to wander but the closer they are to you the more they tend to swarm and surround you. The only time this isn’t the case is as one round (day) ends, at which point the zombies amble off into the forest. During this lull you are able to try and build or repair or replace turrets and barriers.  The game also gives you a choice to level up one of four attributes: Durability, Carnage, Resourcefulness or Engineering. Durability increases your Max HP and HP regen, Carnage adds to your damage and reduces load time, Resourcefulness increases the health and scrap you pick up, and Engineering increases Turret damage and fire rate.

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Attribute upgrade choices

The build and inventory menus can be brought up at any time during the game, but the zombie hordes wait for no man, so don’t expect them to take 5 while you fix that turret. I found that I couldn’t take the time to do much during the round, so later days became a fight for survival as my turrets would eventually be destroyed and over run. I experienced occasional glitches when using the build menu, where I couldn’t switch what barrier I was laying down, but usually escaping out and back into the menu was enough to fix it.

One omission I find odd is the lack of a save game feature. If the game is going to take more time than you have, to play, your only option is to escape out to the menu which pauses the game, and leave it running until you are able to play more. As the game is an early access title, I hope to see this resolved before its full release. Currently the game allows you to play single player, local Co-op and join or host online Co-op games.

A shortcoming of the game is that there really is only one map, but the developer recently added a mode to design your own map, which can be shared with others. Leaderboard information is available as well if you want to score chase. I think that in its present state, Over 9000 Zombies provides enough replay value to have you keep trying to last one more day. The various weapons, level ups and turret building provide enough variables to tweak and adjust your play style as you push back the zombie hordes. If you were a fan of arcade top down shooters like Robotron I think you will find lots of fun in the frenetic action this game can provide.

 

*Update*  Before publishing this review I found that a new build of the game had been released, build 0.1.6.21.  The main changes for this build are new health and status indicators showing what gun is used, how many grenades and scrap you have, and a progression bar for a new weapon unlock system.  This build requires you to unlock new guns by getting kills with the guns you already have.  This build also changes the spawn rate of the zombies, and their AI appears to have improved a bit, making it much more difficult to survive in.