Atom Zombie Smasher (PC)

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Introduction

The country of Nuevos Aires is suffering a zombie invasion. Having lost your arm in an accident, but still wanting to serve the military effort, it lies to you to command the military. El Presidente would do it himself but there’s been an attempt on his life and it’s left him incapacitated. You don’t really see any of this during the game, except in little comics. You just deploy mercenaries and try to stop purple dots from touching yellow dots.

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I said purple zombies and I meant it.

History

Atom Zombie Smasher is developed by Blendo Games which consists of Brendon Chung. He developed the game in eight months with the desire to create a game where the player had to make sacrificial choices. To this end the player must choose which humans to save, the lone scientist or the teeming hoard of frightened non-scientists. Possibly having to decide whether it’s okay to launch an artillery barrage at their own men to secure victory.

Fun Fact: There’s a short development journal in the game itself. Describing exactly how many versions he created and why he had to keep revising.

Atom Zombie Smasher was released on January 22nd, 2011. It’s competition was Dead Space 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 260), Mass Effect 2 (PS3), and Magicka (PC)  –tough crowd.

Nostalgia

My college roommate had this game and when I saw him playing it I had to ask him what was going on. When he told me it was called Atom Zombie Smasher I knew that I had to play it. After I played it I knew that even if I beat it and only played it for a couple of hours I had to give this guy some money and buy it. It’s so uniquely goofy that I couldn’t say no.

Gameplay

The game starts off simple. You control a helicopter that will land, blast it’s airhorn, and attract humans to it. Humans will board the helicopter in a bid to escape from the zombies rushing in from off the map. The helicopter can only hold so many survivors before it’s got to take them away and then return. It creates a neat desperate impatient dynamic when it comes to deploying the helicopter. If zombies approach the landing zone the helicopter can’t land. If you rescue enough people then you win the day! If all the humans are infected before that… then I’ve got some bad news. When night falls all the streets have zeds pouring in making it much more difficult to help people.

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Behold, nighttime and zeds everywhere.

The first seven missions you complete award you mercenaries as rewards. There’s the infantry merc who’ll walk around through the streets and shoot zombies or the zed bait mercenary who will attract nearby zombies toward his location.

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The mercenaries also gain experience and upgrades as the game goes on. They also have ridiculous names

Infected territories are rated from one to four. Each level increases the number of attacking zed streets. At level four there are no humans and it’s your goal to kill all the zeds before nightfall.

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When a territory reaches threat level 4 it infects all nearby territories except dead or reclaimed territories.

Eventually you’ll discover scientists researching the zed threat. They appear as blue on the map and have priority helicopter access. These scientist’s research can be used to purchase upgrades. The higher the infection level, the more the scientists so… choose wisely.

Losing one mission isn’t the end of the world but you can retry it if you want. The goal is to reach a certain number of victory points. Every zombie gives their faction a victory point and every human you rescue gives you a victory point. There are certain milestones that unlock more upgrades for each faction.

The Gush

There are only five music tracks but they’re some of the most memorable surf rock tracks I’ve ever heard. If you like grooving electric guitars then you’ll like this soundtrack.

Every so many missions the game will treat you to a short vignette which reveals the goings on of certain people during and leading up to the outbreak. They verge on non-sequiturs within themselves but I find them hilarious.

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This dialogue is simply brilliant. They just get better and better.

The game has got oodles and oodles of mods so there’s a lot of replay-ability, insofar that no two playthroughs will feel the same.

This game is absolutely silly. It’s got Lamma Bombs, Catbird Cannons, and Elephantbird Orbital Launchers. The sheer ridiculousness is fun.

The Kvetch

The game is only good for short bursts. You might play a few rounds to begin but eventually I slowed down to only playing it once every couple of months.

The Verdict

That all being said, I do still keep coming back to it. It’s individual vignettes re difficult to remember but that just makes it fresh when they pop back up. The gameplay is solid and actually requires a lot of strategy. This game is definitely worth the $9.99 price tag. I’m pretty nostalgic for it even though it’s only 3 years old.

Next Week: Audiosurf

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