Video Game Review - Atom Zombie Smasher
A great little game on Steam that just got added to the Humble Indie Bundle 3, if you are willing to pay a certain amount, that is loads of fun and should not be passed up. Especially if you enjoy puzzle games or strategy games, or both!Steam often has incredible sales on games, so if you can't get this game now, I'd beg for you to keep an eye out for whenever it goes on sale again. It's a great buy.
Sightplay - This game's visuals are incredibly simplistic but retain a degree of charm as well. They set out exactly what they aim to do, and that's represent cities needing civilians in need of extraction from zombies hordes. These are represented by yellow squares for humans, and purple squares for zombies. There are a few different colors here or there to represent special types of humans or zombies, but you'll never get them confused. The menu's are simple enough to understand, and being able to rename each unit you have control over is a very welcome option. There are great comic book panel videos in between missions that show the people struggling against the apocalypse. They're confusing but purposefully so, and are eccentric enough to be humorous. Atom Zombie Smasher keeps things simple, and it's probably better off for it.
Soundplay - The excellent mix of surfer tunes mix well with the the 60s theme that the game is going for. Rainfall makes the endless zombie grunts somehow more menacing, especially when thunder crackles over head. The voice over could have been a bit more varied, as most troops under your command have only two confirmations which you'll hear over and over. They went for simple and concise, which doesn't leave any room for misunderstanding. You know which units are which, and are thankful for the clarity in the midst of a chaotic evacuation.
Gameplay - This is where Atom Zombie Smasher really shines. This game is fun, challenging, and addicting. Having to manage where to direct the flow of panicked survivors is exciting, and each city offers a new layout which requires serious plotting and strategy. The various different unit types level up as you use them, and some are on "away missions", rendering them unavailable during certain scenarios. This means you have to manage the changing offensive/defensive resources each time you tackle a stage. You'd be amazed how many people you can rescue with just a few road blocks placed in the right spots. Sometimes you're given a bevy of destructive missiles and cannons, but must balance their usage carefully as destroying buildings kills anything nearby, civilians included.
The game essentially boils down to two things. You're ability to control the movement of both zombies and civilians. This means managing your greed. Sometimes you want to get every single survivor in the map to head towards the epicenter of the map, but those on the outskirts simply wont follow orders because nearby zombies send them into an uncontrollable panic. Other times you'll want to wait until the maximum number of zombies have swarmed your dynamite before detonating it, only for them to disperse in favor of greener pastures, so to speak. I could go on about the unit types at your command, or the zombie types you're pitted up against, but trust me, this game is fun.
Replay - This is where the game falls a little short in my book. I'm told you're able to create and play mods, but I haven't really had a chance to check any of them out. There is only one ending, whether you win or lose the campaign, which is positively baffling. It's very possible to fail one or two very essential missions that will give the zombie hoard such an advantage that winning becomes impossible. There are various difficulties and gameplay rules you can mess with, which is a welcome addition. However a few more modes would have been appreciated also. Despite the lack of endings or any unlockables, this game still retains a great amount of replay value, if only to see just how good you can get at not only saving civilians, but stomping out the zombie hordes.
Score - 3 out of 5. This game is fantastic and was really a lot of fun to play. If a sequel is developed, I would hope the gameplay modes get a little more attention, as well as the number of outcomes that come at the end of the campaign. An offensive mode where killing the most zombies before the timer runs out, without any concern over civilians sounds like it would be fun. Or a mode where you get to control the civilians instead of the safety zone, and have to herd them like lemmings into the indicated zones sounds like a nice change of pace. Also, and I can't stress this enough, a mode where you get to play as the zombies would be an incredible kick in the pants (in a good way). Atom Zombie Smasher is not one to be missed!