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RoboTron Meets Zombies

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Doublesix, the developers behind Burn Zombie Burn, have created a worthwhile PSN exclusive.

The player takes the role of Bruce, a greaser-looking dude from the 60’s.  Similar to Robotron or Smash TV, the player is tasked with gunning down an endless supply of zombies in one fixed level.  Based solely around score, this arcade shooter defines the term “button masher.”  The screen will never scroll to a new stage and weapon pick-ups usually spawn in the same place over and over, but gameplay is always fast paced and constant.

In fact, herein resides one of the few complaints I have with this game.  Since all shooting is performed by tapping R1 (or X) and R2, your fingers and hands will submit to carpel tunnel syndrome quickly.  The second analog stick isn’t even used for anything productive, so why a Geometry Wars dual analog stick control scheme wasn’t introduced into the play control is the game’s biggest wonder. 

When you first start your zombie slaying adventure, a simple pistol is the one weapon you will have to defend yourself from the inevitable onslaught.  However, other primary weapons can be constantly found on each stage like the baseball bat, the uzi, the lawn mower, and the shotgun.  Each weapon has strengths and weaknesses but all are usually almost always better than the simple pistol (which causes the most hand cramping).  

Besides these primary weapons, the player also will have access to secondary weapons like a flame thrower or ray gun that makes the zombies dance, Thriller-style.  By default, the torch will become the player’s best friend.  By setting zombies on fire, the player will be able to rack up higher scores and unlock medals for each stage.  Once set on fire, however, zombies will become faster and even stronger.  Making matters more difficult, zombies that are on fire can spread the fire to other zombies upon contact.  Within seconds, that one zombie you lit up could have multiplied several times over.  Adding some strategy to the game, killing regular zombies will award different bonuses than destroying fire zombies. 

By racking up constant kills with the same weapon, the game rewards the player with explosives, health pick-ups, or more ammo for these combo kills.  Using the combo of killing fire zombies with explosives is really the only solid way to rack up enough points to unlock medals for each stage.  Of course using these kill tactics are going to be more difficult than a stand run and gun affair, but will pay off by seeing your name ranked higher on the leaderboards.  Also, if enough enemies are killed with combos, a big red button will pop up in the middle of the stage, and once stepped on, will help the player in some way.  Unleashing a UFO that attacks the zombies or slowing down their movement by making it rain are just a couple ways to impede the zombie plague. 

Freeplay is not the only mode of the game.  In Timed Mode, the player has a specific amount of time to rack up a high score, but time bonuses can be picked up to extend the duration of the game.  In Daisy Mode, the protagonist must protect his helpless girlfriend from the endless waves of zombies.  Both of these extra modes offer different gameplay objectives, which really gives the game extra legs to run on.  The included Training mode is an easy way to get players up to speed before they start playing too. 

The trigger button control scheme may be one of the game’s biggest disappointments, but not supporting any online play is borderline unacceptable.  Local co-op play is an option but why can’t I play with a buddy online?  What makes this even more mind boggling is that this game has pretty high presentation values.  Animation, graphics, soundtrack – its all here with quality.  Online leaderboards are available through the main menu so you can see where you rank against the rest of the world, but a game like this really screams for co-op play.  Hopefully a patch will be available sometime soon.

Burn Zombie Burn is a great action arcade shooter for its $10 download price.  The player will get overwhelmed from time to time, but staying alive is always within the player’s grasp.  This keeps the balancing and frustration levels more to a minimum while the fun factor stays in the forefront.  With a sleek coat of presentation polish, this is one PSN exclusive that is definitely entertaining.  It is just a shame that there is no dual analog control scheme and no online play. 

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