Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone

zandaboxart
5.0 Overall Score

Some interesting mechanics

A whole host of maddening design choices abound

Written by on November 16, 2011 in

A good zombie-based action game is kind of like a hot dog these days: it may be generic, but its generally satisfying and hard to screw up. That’s what really makes Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone so egregious; it takes so many potentially solid elements and delivers a poorly-paced, unfun experience that simply misses the mark over and over again.

Never Die Alone plays just like the previous iteration of Zombie Apocalypse. You dual-stick shooter your way around the map, murder dozens and dozens of zombies, and rack up a score multiplier. This design has been forcibly bred with Left 4 Dead in the sequel, creating a weird series of objective-based missions based around the previous scoring concept. Your goal here is to navigate from one end of the map to the other, swapping between various survivors (or playing with three friends) along the way.

(this is way less fun than it looks)

This part of Never Die Alone is alright, and there are even some interesting mechanics here (slapping survivors to their senses before getting them to safety, an expanded super-move list for each survivor), but the gameplay and characters kill it. The guns are anemic and sound weak, making the act of mowing down hordes of zombies with a shotgun seem tedious. Ammo is limitless, which makes the melee weapons (each character can spastically flail about with some form of blunt instrument by mashing B) nothing but a way to quickly lose your combo multiplier (a 500x score bonus will drop to nothing in about a second of zombie attacks). But none of this compares to the characters.

Remember how the cast in Left 4 Dead was great because they had plenty of unique dialog and none of it interfered with the pace of the game? Ever think of how awful it would have been if instead of that you had to endure the same unfunny lines over and over in a level before the game would progress? Well, now you can find out! Never Die Alone’s cast consists of a preacher who’s somehow offensively stereotypical, an English rap star (…sure?), a weapons expert, and some thirty year old channeling the 13 year old twat you inevitably have to mute in the first minute of a Halo game on Xbox Live. Let me reiterate, you CANNOT skip these dialog sequences, and the entire game halts for them. It took all of two extended chat sequences with the game before I wound up taking control of of the gamer character and running him face first into the zombie horde.

Beyond the characters, a whole host of maddening design choices are abound. Every character has just one weapon, which means the annoying gamer is the only one with a machine gun, and the engineer is stuck with an incredibly slow rifle. Special attacks (the only thing that breaks up the game beyond a very few special weapons) are easy to accidentally double up on, and the bot AI never uses them, which means if you want the preacher to heal, you need to LB your way over to him and mash the special button.

The bot AI is actually incapable of doing anything but standing in place and shooting, leading to fast and unpleasant party wipes. This doesn’t become apparent until you run into kamikaze exploding zombies in level 3; they require both running AND shooting, which means the AI will cost you your entire combo meter. The levels are also scaled terribly; within three or four levels your group has gone through tediously mowing down everything in site to tediously being blown up and crushed by a whole host of upgraded zombies.

When it comes down to it, Never Die Alone is a longer but poor alternative to Alien Swarm. Considering Alien Swarm was released more than a year ago and is free v. Zombie Apacolypse’s $10 price tag, its hard to recommend the game. While there are a lot of good ideas (Left 4 Dead with a combo system sounds great on paper), the execution of Never Die Alone is what breaks it. From the unskippable, repetitive cries of “pwn zombie noobs” to the bland gameplay, this game is just kind of a mess.

A copy of Zombie Apocalypse: Never Die Alone was given to The Married Gamers for review.

SHARE THIS POST

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards. http://www.amazon.com/Zachary-Snell/e/B008G0MORI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Leave A Response