The concept of the Zombie Apocalypse, bastion of the B-grade cinema and many excellent games, has seldom been mixed with the twin-stick shooter sub-genre. Konami and Nihilistic have seen a gap in the market and have set about plugging it with today's title, Zombie Apocalypse. Imaginative name aside, guns and high action in a zombie setting sounds like fun - right?
The premise is straight forward - take control of one of four characters (more than a passing resemblance to Left 4 Dead here), move them via the left control stick while you shoot your gun with the right control stick. You can also pull out a chainsaw for those up close and personal moments, including the ability to rescue would-be zombie victims when they occasionally appear (much like Robotron 2084). Power-ups appear from time to time, allowing you to temporarily improve your weapons.
Weapons are deeply unsatisfying. The basic weapon does very little damage to start with and the zombies just get tougher - your basic gun never gets any better. The upgrades improve things but they have a limited number of shots and appear infrequently enough that you'll spend most of your time with your (lame) first gun.
The zombies improve their ability as you progress, with enhanced zombies able to move faster, dodge and kill you with one touch (the first set will give you a chance to break out of their grapple should they catch you). Their ability to absorb your firepower starts of as annoying and branches into "incredibly frustrating" before the level count hits double digits. There are environmental objects which you can blow up to cause devastation to nearby zombies but they, too, seem relatively impervious to repeated rounds from an M16 and will often be blocked by a bulletproof zombie anyway, or placed to the side of the level which the zombies will never get anywhere near anyway.
When zombies appear (from the ground or clambering into the level from something at the side of the screen), their appearance animation makes them completely invulnerable to your bullets. Your frustratingly impotent slugs sail harmlessly over the heads of the zombies as they agonisingly creep into the playable part of their existence, resulting in a bizarrely unsatisfying field of play where sometimes you can hit zombies and sometimes you can't. Sometimes you can herd them up, sometimes they're just in your way.
The sounds are pretty basic, with the only saving grace being the rather good music which, while not excellent or loud / intense enough, is very reminiscent of the 28 Days / Weeks Later movies and an excellent fit for the game. The sounds of the zombies are fine but the guns sound weak (accurate, to be fair). The character voices don't really suit their persona / profiles either and in all there's no special treats for your ears in this one.
Graphically it's very basic. Low polygon count, low texture detail, low variety is the theme of the day. Your character's (unskippable) end-of-level excitement animation is funny the first time, droll the second time and not even remotely amusing very shortly after that.
If you absolutely must have another zombie game, Zombie Apocalypse is far from awful. The most frustrating and disappointing thing about it is that the premise has so much promise - none of which is delivered on here. It's decidedly average.