Burn Zombie Burn

Risk and reward: the balance between these two things is precariously nudged from side to side in almost everything we do. In the real world, some people inexplicably risk their lives to get to work a mere couple of minutes faster. others leave their financial well-being to chance in the stock markets. In many cases, greater risks lead to improved rewards. Though this risk may be unacceptable to some in real life, the beauty of computer games is that there are no consequences. That said, many of the best gaming experiences still depend on a carefully-balanced risk-reward relationship to motivate players. Computers gamers would not be content if rewards were offered too easily or guarded too tightly, and achieving the perfect balance is something developers continue to strive towards. Burn Zombie Burn is a game that is designed to live or die on its risk-reward scheme, and developers doublesix have clearly invested considerable time in polishing this dynamic.

Burn Zombie Burn

In Burn Zombie Burn, there are zombies, and one of the most crucial things you can do is burn them. This will likely come as no surprise to those familiar to the words in the title. At its most basic, the game works as follows: hordes of zombies will trundle towards your character in waves, forcing you to shoot them to defend yourself. Before shooting them, you can set them on fire (usually with a basic wooden torch, but later using flamethrowers or flammable scenery), with the reward being that your score for each zombie kill is multiplied by the number of zombies currently on fire, while the risk is that torched zombies are somewhat faster and considerably more unimpressed with the world around them, especially you. As a result, a superb balancing act is immediately introduced as you strive to keep as many zombies on fire as possible, while also keeping the hordes at bay.

Shooting zombies is relatively easy, and certainly satisfying, since your character, starting with a basic pistol, can pick up improved weaponry including uzis, shotguns, chainsaws, baseball bats and even lawnmowers (which are actually phenomenally effective). The upgraded weaponry is usually limited by ammunition, but there are plenty of pickups to find. With the sort of firepower that can take out five zombies in a single shot, it'd seem like the risk wasn't so great, except for the fact that the game frequently allows up to 100 zombies on screen at once, all heading relentlessly towards you. To make things harder, they're not all the steady, stomping kind. There are several types, many of which pose a considerable threat, including insane, self-detonating zombies that destroy everything within range, ballerina zombies that nimbly spin across the screen with frightening speed, and even hulking green beasty zombies that tower above all others, reigning down destruction with their mighty fists. It'd be enough to scare anyone, except that the main character is as cool (and cheesy) as they come, with lines such as "I came here to chew bubblegum and kill zombies, and I'm all outta gum". Clearly the zombies don't know what they're in for.

Burn Zombie Burn

Despite the amount of zombie bashing already possible, the combat doesn't stop with basic weaponry. By killing zombies you'll sometimes be left with extra pickups, such as health, and, more importantly, dynamite. Burning zombies will also sometimes deposit upgrades when shot, allowing you to boost the power or implementation of the dynamite. Not only can the blast radius be increased, but players can later use proximity or remote detonation to improve the effectiveness of the explosives. In addition, there is a Ratchet and Clank-style music weapon that causes zombies to pause and dance while you shoot at will, and also a brain-sucking device. The latter is slow to respond and requires patience, but the reward for this risk is again considerable. By sucking the brain from a zombie, it can be jettisoned into the path of the oncoming hordes, many of which will be distracted by the extracted zombie brain, buying you time to set more on fire, shoot them and collect the rewards.

Taking part in regular arcade mode games (scoring points until you run out of lives), timed modes, and protection games (where you guard the vehicle of your good lady from oncoming zombies), as well as the selection of challenges presented, should keep even expert players happy for many hours, since the game is actually incredibly hard (particularly by modern standards). Gaining gold medals across the board will take some serious dedication, with a real need for careful combo building. It's worth pointing out that this isn't the sort of game that's a good laugh for ten minutes with friends. It demands serious attention to get the most from the game, even if the controls are relatively easy to pick up initially.

Burn Zombie Burn

As with many store titles, it's not a visual stunner (reflected by the download size and price of the game), but it's not bad. It has a slightly vaseline-soft feel to it, with stylized cartoon visuals bringing the characters to life. It works well though, with zombies offering quite entertaining expressions and possessing quite interesting manerisms and (almost) personalities. The main character isn't fleshed out particularly, in personality or graphically, but it competently conveys a feeling of 80s/90s cheese-filled zombie horror that complements the gameplay-focussed feel of the game. The sound is of similar quality, with basic zombie groans and moans, cheesy comments from the main character, and meaty effects for each of the guns. The chainsaw is perhaps the most remarkable, since the sound as it cuts through zombies is somewhat perturbing.

There's little to fault with the game, other than the mediocre visuals and sound. It could be argued that the game is slightly too hardcore for many, with some highscores likely to be completely out of reach, but it's good to see games still released that possess this quality. If every game available could be completed by all in exactly the same way, the games industry would get stale very quickly. Burn zombie Burn is a game that perfectly balances risk and reward to offer a challenging, but highly enjoyable, zombie-shooting experience.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Kuju Entertainment

Developer:

Doublesix

Players:

1-2

Online:

Rankings

Release:

2009-03-26

Trophies:

15

Review summary

Gameplay:

Relentless, addictive, just-one-more-go amazingness

Graphics:

Colourful and smooth with plenty on screen

Sound:

Over-the-top rock music and cheese-filled voicework

Lastability:

A mammoth score challenge, but not many levels

7.9

Volcanic

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