Over the past few years, zombies have seen somewhat of a revival (no pun intended) within popular culture. These reanimated corpses who have a knack for eating brains and flesh have been showing up on television, movies, and games with much more frequency and to much fanfare than ever before. In MMO games, it is no different, as game developers have caught on with the popularity of zombies nowadays and have created a decent amount of games that have their players deal with the undead with varying overtones, ranging from dark, gritty, claustrophobic first-person shooters that taps into the morality and fears of the gamers’ human psyche, to more low-brow, entertaining, and comedic action games that are aimed for humor and to kill time, not to mention a whole lot of shooting, be it with guns or with other forms of projectiles.
With this in mind, R2 Games takes a shot at the resurgent zombie genre by creating Zombies Ate My Pizza, a post-apocalyptic, action-oriented shooter browser MMO that pits players against the titular undead menace. But does this game have what it takes to stand out from the rest of the zombie-themed titles out there? Let’s find out!
That’s Just Too Cheesy (Pun Intended)
Before anything else, let’s start with the game’s title, Zombies Ate My Pizza. Now, while it is a good thing to let players know the gist of the game they are playing from reading the title alone, naming your game Zombies Ate My Pizza is not a good choice. Just saying it aloud sounds like the title was created by a kid who had a book of Madlibs with him and had to fill out the phrase “zombies ate my ______” and all he came up with was “pizza”. Granted, they tried to put together two things in popular culture that majority of people love, that is, zombies and pizza (c’mon, who doesn’t love pizza, am I right?), but putting these two together as a theme for a game is as far off left field as anyone can think of.
As for the narrative, Zombies Ate My Pizza (which will be called ZAMP from here on in) goes with the tried and tested formula of most zombie-themed media – a virus was set out onto the world that turned most of the populace into mindless zombies. The twist comes when the perpetrators are an evil race of extraterrestrial bugs, and the epidemic that has befallen humanity turns the infected people’s brains into spongy dough, which in turn, leads them to think that the surviving humans are succulent, mouth-watering pizzas waiting to be devoured. I’m all up for games that have a unique themed game so long as there is a great or at least decent narrative, but in ZAMP’s case, it’s really hard to get behind its premise solely because it’s just plainly too silly for anyone to take it seriously.
The NPCs within the game are not helping matters either. They just take the whole theme of the game far too seriously for their own good. The writers try to add wit and humor in the game’s NPCs conversations with players and make them be endearing characters, but the stuff they say are filled with so much pizza and cheese-related puns that it just feels too flat and too forced that players would get annoyed by them and just click away at the dialogue button as fast as they could so that they could start with their missions as soon as possible. Even your character is not saved from the pun-heavy one liners – it’s a burden to not cringe at all the face-palm-inducing comebacks your character that you’d end up trying to let out a pity laugh to ease an already awkward situation. One can’t help but feel sorry for the writers who made the dialogues; they’re trying their best to be funny and humorous, but it’s not their fault that they’re working with such nonsensical theme to begin with.
But game titles, narratives, and dialogue aside, the game does have its merits.
They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara!
Aesthetically, ZAMP looks decent – the character designs are okay (though I still don’t get why the women in the game are too scantily-dressed. Did the zombies also stole all the decent, functional wardrobe for women as well?!) and the stages each have a motif going for them – powerplants and gymnasiums look as such, with the exception that they’ve been designed to look post-apocalyptic.
ZAMP’s gameplay is also a pleasant surprise, as it is very fast-paced and often leaves you on your toes, as the zombies vary in types, ranging from the standard walking zombies, to the more agile zombies that run at you with a full head of steam. There are also zombies that fire various projectiles at you, so moving is crucial in this game; ZAMP employs the W,S,A, and D controls for movement, the number keys for abilities, and the mouse for aiming and shooting. It is worth noting that the controls are remarkably responsive, especially movement. This proves essential because as you progress in the game, zombies become faster and hurl more projectiles that precise movement is key – in latter levels, it feels as if you’re playing a bullet-hell game where you’re tasked to evade a TON of enemy fire while mowing them down at the same time.
Get to the Chopper!
ZAMP has two classes to choose from – the Commando and the Bomber. Commandos have higher attack power and have higher defensive rating while Bombers have stronger Critical damage ratios. Players can choose between male and female versions of the said classes, and there is some degree of character customization in relation to leveling up your weapons and armor that would prove helpful in later levels.
Your character’s skills are all often based on crowd control effects – you have bombs that deal a huge amount of damage, you get to have a gravity-field that you can place down in order to herd the zombies, as well as freeze traps to slow them down, among others. Most of the arsenal ZAMP provides players are a variety of guns – machine guns, rocket launchers, shotguns, the list goes on. These weapons have ammo that replenish by themselves but have varying speeds when reloading – the stronger the weapon, the slower it reloads. Access to other skills require you to play the game and level up, as with the weapons and the subsequent sub-weapons. Having such firepower at your disposal proves beneficial, considering the waves of enemies you have to get through to finish a stage. That being said, some crowd control abilities do not work against bosses; battling them entails good reaction timing and critical thinking. It also helps that there are some environmental items in some stages that players can use should they get into a jam – propane tanks, for instance, can be shot at and deal further area of effect damage on the hapless zombies.
There are a lot of stages in ZAMP, each increasing in difficulty as you progress. Most of the time, your objective is to rid the stage of all zombies, which is fine in itself, but it gets repetitive at times. Each time you complete a stage, you are given a rank based on how fast you finished it, a star rating is given; the higher the star, the better the experience points and gold and attack crystals you get. Getting gold and attack crystals is crucial, as players use these to level up their armor and weapons, respectively. Once you’ve completed a stage, you can choose to re-enter it again to gain a higher score which in turn would yield higher experience points and gold.
ZAMP also supports PvP – players who like to combat with one another can do so by heading onto the Arena. Once there, a player queue is presented where players can choose who they’d like to face off with; this is a nice touch, but with only two classes available, it leaves the PvP experience a bit lacking. Having more classes would have been nice as it would certainly add some new dynamics within the game, not just the Arena.
To Sum Up
ZAMP’s pros and cons are as follows:
– Fast-paced action shooter
– easy to learn
– Bullet-Hell Goodness
– tons of zombies to shoot at
– the game’s name and premise
– too much pizza and cheese puns to count
– limited classes to choose from
– tends to get repetitive
Zombies Ate My Pizza is honestly a fun, decent action shooter that handles well. The only glaring problem with it is its whole premise. Having a zombie-themed game is passable in itself, but pairing it with something as random as pizza kind of hurt the game’s credibility, in my opinion. It is a shame, as ZAMP has a surprisingly good gameplay mechancis, and having a Bullet-Hell-like atmosphere on top of waves of zombies coming at you has the makings of a great concept for a game one can work on. But what we’re given are Zombies and pizzas. The leads at creative should have sat down for a few more brainstorming sessions on that one.
Check out their trailer down here:Related: Browser, R2Games, Review, Zombies