Burn Zombie Burn Review: If You Play With Fire…
“Burn Zombie Burn” is the perfect example of why downloadable games on consoles, at a affordable prices is, possibly, this generation’s biggest breakthrough. It’s a fun little game, by an independent developer, that, if it were to be released to retail, would have simply gotten lost going up against triple-A titles, with huge budgets and giant marketing teams behind them. However, by going download only, a solid little game about killing zombies has the ability to shine, and can end up sucking up hours of your life faster than a zombie can suck out your brain.
“Burn Zombie Burn” is not “Left 4 Dead,” but it does fill a big gap in the console market for an arcade-style game about setting zombies on fire, and then killing them with a lawnmower. Sure, it may borrow that last idea from “Dead Rising,” but the top-down, quick, twitchy gameplay of “Burn Zombie Burn” sets it apart for most other zombie games on the market.
You play as Bruce (man, I’m really glad my name isn’t Bruce, they seem to have the worst luck with the undead); just your everyday man trying to survive in a zombie-eat-man world. Packed with a complete arsenal, ranging from a chain-gun to a dance-gun, Bruce has to do whatever he can to stay alive, while taking out as many zombies as he can. Yeah, the idea behind the game is pretty basic, but does it really matter when you’re killing zombies?
At its heart, “Burn Zombie Burn” is reminiscent of arcade classics like “Robotron 2048″ and “Smash TV,” but, once you get beyond the waves of enemies, there’s a few things that “BZB” does differently than other games. Fortunately, in this case, differently means better. As you’re running away from the swarms of zombies in each stage, Bruce gets to pack two weapons; first is his primary attack - usually a gun, as well as his secondary attack - fire. Apparently, zombies hate fire, so this second weapon serves as a repellent, as well as a nice secondary attack. There is one little catch thought, Zombies only hate fire if they aren’t already on fire - in which case they want to set you on fire. That alone is a great use of the two weapon system in a top-down arcade shooter, but there is one added layer to it that really separates it from a lot of other games - there’s a unique risk-reward system when Bruce decides to play with fire. If you just play the game, without using fire, your multiplier will increase, and you’ll continue to rack up the points for going through the game in a more challenging manner. However, if the zombies are already on fire, and then you shoot them, they won’t add to your multiplier. On the plus side, they will drop better power-ups, which will improve your weapons and explosives. So, it’s up to the player to decide how they want to play the game, adding a nice twist on a tried and true mechanic.
“Burn Zombie Burn” might not have to fight for all your quarters like “Robotron” used to, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t just as punishing. The only way you beat each level, and unlock new ones, is by racking up a high score, and being awarded a metal ranking. The lowest of these goals is in the hundred thousands, which is why it’s so important to focus on your multiplier.
Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), each of “BZB”’s modes offer just as much of a challenge as the game’s standard Free Play mode, which is just about killing or burning anything that moves. There is also a defend mode, where you have to protect Daisy, Bruce’s cherished girlfriend, from each wave of zombies. If her life runs out, then you didn’t do your job, and it’s game over. “Burn Zombie Burn” also includes a whole series of challenges that force the gamer to change up how they accumulate their score or attack the zombies. And they call them “challenges” for a reason - this mode is super hard, and you’ll be playing each challenge over and over just to get anywhere near beating it. If you can some how mange to squeak out silver and gold metals in any of the game’s modes you’ll be rewarded with a host of unlockables ranging from art to characters bios.
While “Burn Zombie Burn” is a pretty fun game, there are a couple of drawbacks to the gameplay. First of all, the levels are all pretty much the same in terms of size and layout, only really changing the design. It’s not a huge flaw, but since it takes a while to unlock new levels the reward isn’t that great, and any hopes you had of some new level designs are dashed pretty quickly. The game’s second biggest problem is the controls - while there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, and they serve their purpose, a game like this should absolutely have a dual analog stick control system for movement and attacking. Maybe I’ve just been playing too much “Geometry Wars” but this control sceme would have been a perfect fit- maybe not as a default, but it would have been nice to be an option.
Sure, “Burn Zombie Burn” is influenced by a handful of different games, but it’s far from derivative. There’s enough going on in this game, to make it worth the price of admission, and it will keep you busy for weeks to come. Plus, you be able to virtually solve that pesky zombie problem - now, if you could just figure out how to get the one’s at your door to stop knocking…
“Burn Zombie Burn” was released for the Sony Playstation 3 via the Playstation Network on March 26th, 2009.