Age of Zombies – The PS3 Attitude Review
Age of Zombies is the latest mini from Halfbrick, the Aussie team behind PSN title Blast Off. The game has Barry Steakfries, the badass protagonist, travelling through various ages of time, blasting through hoards of zombies as he attempts to stop his evil nemesis Professor Barry Brains.
There is nothing particularly remarkable about Age of Zombies that sets it apart from the overabundance of zombie games around: dressing the zombies up as mummies or cavemen does not hide the fact that it’s another typical zombie shooter. Yet, Age of Zombies is still an incredibly moreish game that keeps clawing us back for more.
Lead character Steakfries is, on the surface, the typical coarse, reckless, murderous and extremely arrogant meathead that is normally used in these games. His dishevelled appearance of unshaven face, sleeveless suit and cigarette hanging from his mouth is enough to make John McClane – of Die Hard fame – look like an upright citizen. Steakfries is more than this; he is full of childish witticisms and his comments show him to be intelligent and even sensitive. It’s an unlikely amalgamation of traits that make Steakfries a true Byronic hero and the main selling point of the game.
Age of Zombies is a very amusing game. Its scattergun approach to narrative and humour has no right to work. The dialogue is often terrible, but it’s clear that the developers are completely aware of this fact. Steakfries himself draws attention to his over-use of phrases: “because when it comes to one-liners… Steakfries never wastes time.” Its frivolity is a pleasure.
In terns of gameplay, it follows the traditional structure of five levels broken down into three stages with the last being a boss battle. Each level has a different historical setting: prehistoric world, 1930s Chicago, ancient Egypt, feudal Japan and a space age future.
The zombies are fashioned from their ages: Japan has zombie samurais and Egypt is full of zombie mummies. The differences are mostly for aesthetic purposes. Aside from the mafia zombies who carry guns, they all attack in the same way – and that’s by heading straight for you in packs. You need to be a lot sharper with the bosses, these include a T-Rex and a giant Pharaoh named King Shattinbricks.
You have a wide array of weaponry to take them down in the form of pistols, Uzis, shotguns, Gatling guns and flame throwers. Secondary weapons come in the form of grenades, mines and bazookas. Each of these is perfectly capable of causing a bloody mess, but the shotgun is by far the most satisfying to use.
Age of Zombies follows the same mechanics as Super Stardust Portable. That means using the face buttons to direct your fire. As we are reviewing this from a PS3 perspective, this isn’t ideal. We would prefer the Super Stardust HD controls of using the two thumbsticks. Nevertheless, the mini is designed for PSP use so we cannot grumble too much, and it doesn’t take long before the controls start to feel natural.
Age of Zombies is fun to play, but its longevity will be hampered by the lack of optional difficulty setting. It’s too easy. You will regularly find the screen covered with zombies but it’s not hard to shrug them off even if there’s little room to manoeuvre. Playing through the game is very enjoyable, but the lack of higher difficulty means that it doesn’t tap into the gamer’s desire to go back to master this sort of genre. There is no sense of achievement.
In the end, did we need another zombie game? No. But that is judging it too harshly for what it is, a mini, an inconsequential treat that can be picked up at a cheap price to give a few hours of pleasure and it fits that description perfectly. The only worry is that its £3.99 price tag may be a quid too much and people may choose to miss out on Barry Steakfries’ charm.