At first glance, you could be forgiven for assuming that All Zombies Must Die is just another shooter. It features twin stick controls, with numerous power ups to collect or earn, and comic book visuals - with a spot of blood here and there.
A few missions in, however, and the RPG elements rear their stat crunching, enhanced-gun tooting, head. You gain access to a police station (which functions as a base of operations), for example, where you can craft weapon upgrades, raise your characters' stats or switch to another one, check your inventory, and pick your next mission. A nice touch is that, while in the base, you can attack the other playable characters - although it doesn't hurt them.
All Zombies Must Die's story sees Jack and his whiny ex-girlfriend Rachel caught up in a zombie outbreak - and no, they aren't in a mall. The pair are later joined by scientist Bryan, and an alien named Luxo. The four make up the playable roster, although only Jack is playable to begin with.
Contrary to what the name suggests, the goal isn't always to kill every zombie, but to meet goals set out by the gate keepers to progress. These goals could be to kill X amount of zombies, or find a specific item.
All Zombies Must Die's humour carries over to the missions, such as one which sees Jack finding a teddy bear for a stone statue, in return for Rachael's cell phone - a vital find if you want to progress. The latter is much more annoying and finds you scouring the landscape for something, looking in garbage cans, closets, and any other spot marked with a magnifying glass.
Missions can be played at your leisure - a vital aspect when character stats play a role. There's an area just outside the police station where players can head out and grind before taking on the harder missions; I stress "before" because, once you start a mission, there is no way to go back to your base and grind. Another issue you may encounter is that the auto-save feature doesn't save when you meet mission goals; so if you don't make it back to your base, you'll have to repeat the mission.
Unfortunately, "repeat" is a word that comes to mind with every mission you head out on. The missions switch between "find this" and "kill them" variants; coupled with the masses of zombies you have to storm through, not even the comic book violent visuals can save it. The humour and RPG elements are the only things to hold your attention here.
Once you're in the thick of it, the zombies come at you in hordes and rise from almost anywhere - even through solid concrete. It makes me wonder two things: one, why people are burying them under their houses; and two, how a half-rooted human is able to lift stone tiling. Prior to the zombie outbreak, were the residents steroid-abusing serial killers?
The dead, steroid-abusing serial killers come in a variety of versions, including the basic - easily dispatched zombie; riot gear zombies - which are partially protected by their shield; and the nuclear waste zombies. The latter are the first zombies to pose any sort of challenge because, in addition to having stronger attacks, they can knock you down. Moreover, once knocked down you're vulnerable to the hordes of weaker zombies.
To aid in the dispatching of the hordes, players can exploit environmental hazards, such as house fires and loud police sirens. Fire, for instance, while harmless to you, will set zombies alight and slowly drain their health, while cop car sirens will stun zombies for a couple of seconds. In addition to the hazards, zombies readily drop pick-ups which restore ammo, health, and provide credits to spend.
On the multiplayer front, All Zombies Must Die's offerings are limited to offline co-op play for two to four players. There is no Xbox Live play, dedicated death match, or survival modes to speak of.
At its core, All Zombies Must Die is a solid shooter with RPG elements and a decent level of character upgrading. Unfortunately, it's let down a little by the monotonous missions of 'kill that' or 'collect this'. Rachel isn't a particularly likable either - of course, you don't have to use her at all!