Before the outbreak of killer swine flu in 2009 which turned 90% of the world’s population into mindless zombies (or maybe it was just our TV’s that did it?) you had to watch movies or play video games to get your weekly fix of the undead. Over the last year or so we’ve had a rather big selection of games featuring zombies which include hot titles such as; Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 5. Burn Zombie Burn is an exclusive downloadable game for the PlayStation 3 from the PSN store but unlike those big name titles, Burn Zombie Burn is not a first person shooter. If you’ve played the arcade classic Robotron 2084 then when you first load Burn Zombie Burn you’ll instantly recognise the similarities to its old school ancestor. In Robotron you control a character who has a small closed environment (an arena if you will) to move around in whilst waves of robots appear in all directions start to home in towards you like crazed magnets. Your only possible action is to move around the screen avoiding them whilst shooting your weapon in their direction to kill them. What made Robotron so addictive was its seemingly never ending supply of killer robots and rock hard difficulty. Underneath it’s modern coating Burn Zombie Burn is Robotron through and through but have developers Doublesix managed to successfully bring their own bit of magic and pull of the zombie theme without spoiling the memories we have of Robotron 2084? Let’s find out in my Burn Zombie Burn review. If you’ve ever wanted to step into the boots of chainsaw wielding geek hero Ash from the Evil Dead movies then Burn Zombie Burn is quite possibly the closet you’ll get.
You control Bruce; a stereotypical 1970’s American Jock who along with his high school sweetheart Daisy appear to be stuck in the middle of a zombie invasion. You and your pistol are your only protection from those nasty brain eating baddies so best get your trigger finger ready because you only have a few seconds to prepare at the beginning of a level before the zombies are heading your way. So just like Robotron you need to get your ass in gear and get moving around the map shooting at every zombie you see; staying still is your ticket to being surrounded rather quickly and one of your 3 lives going down the drain. Each wave is fairly short but as you’ve probably guessed you’ll see a steady progression of zombie count but it’s not all bad because handy new weapons such as; Chainsaws, Baseball Bats, Gatling Guns and even Lawnmowers will appear to help you fend off the baddies. However you can only carry one new weapon at a time (besides your default pistol of course) and these all (except the melee items) have limited ammo. Soon enough you’re back to your trusty slow firing sidearm waiting for another good weapon or some ammo to spawn.
Before you fret about the lack of violence I must mention that Bruce also carries a flamethrower to ignite zombies in a blaze of flame, the problem is that the fire doesn’t actually kill them. Instead it makes them more dangerous and run faster, however on the upside killing burning zombies with regular weapons rewards you with new items to pick up in the form of TNT (which can be kicked and thrown) as well as the ever useful speed boost and health pickups. The TNT is your basic explosive variety and can easily take out a mass of zombies in one go and after upgrading (by killing even more burning zombies) to the more useful varieties such as Proximity and Remote can be very deadly to both them and you so be careful where you place/detonate it especially when the blue gas canisters spawn around the map! Next up is the giant red button, not quite as powerful as the one President Obama now has the keys to but handy none the less. As you kill regular zombies with a particular weapon a progress bar will slowly fill which eventually result in the big red button being activated, this button will induce a different environmental assistance on every map which could be the difference between you staying alive for another 30 seconds of having your guts ripped to shred (don’t worry the game isn’t actually gory), two early examples are; Rain which slows the speed of the zombies and a God Ray which will kill any evil dudes who are lured towards it. There are too many other weapons to talk about but rest assured anything you’ve ever seen to kill zombies in a B-Movie is here for your use, whether you are skilled enough to make effective use of them or not is a different matter. Game play is very intense and very difficult; If you can’t keep every wave of zombies under control then you will soon die and see the menu screen again and be no closer to unlocking any medals (bronze, silver, gold) and more importantly the bonus content and Trophies.
There are a total of six maps of which five need to be unlocked by earning bronze medals which is actually a feat in itself and not something you’ll do very quickly unless you’re a skilled arcade supremo. Every map is a recognisable B movie style location and suit the American 1950’s theme perfectly, everything from spooky woods to an army base and even a drive in movie theatre are included. They do all tend to have the same sort of shape and feel to them so it’s only the different big red button events that really differentiate them that much, having said that they do look great and have the matching music you’d expect too. You know what? I’ve forgotten to tell you that there are 9 different types of zombies to kill who all react differently. I won’t list them all here but my favourites have to be the Super Zombies which fart flame, the masked zombies that use trashcans as makeshift shields and the dancing ballerina zombies which suffer from shyness if you look at them. Things can go especially crazy when you have zombies that need to be TNT’d as well as those that need to be shot from behind all running towards you at once – making good use of the strafe and lock on buttons are essential to success. Burn Zombie Burn features some nice other game modes including local 2 player coop and special challenges which will keep you going for ages, it’s a shame there is no online mode but at least there are Trophies to earn and compare with your mates. Graphically Burn Zombie Burn isn’t going to make you glad you bought a PlayStation 3 even if hundreds of zombies on screen at once because sometimes the game suffers in framerate, but for 95% of the time you do get a lovely looking and smooth 1080p experience. Issues aside I like a game which puts charm and comedy into its visuals and Burn Zombie Burn does that. The same can be said for the soundtrack; the cheesy rock and over the top voice acting may very make your dolby surround sound geeks wince but they do the job for me and that’s what matters right? If you’ve been missing some proper hardcore action to rival Geometry Wars or Robotron on the Xbox 360 then Burn Zombie Burn is for you and scores a rather good 7 out of 10.