Review: #killallzombies (PS4)

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Title: #killallzombies
Format: PlayStation Network Download (177 MB)
Release Date: October 28, 2014 (US), November 12, 2014 (EU)
Publisher: Beatshapers Ltd.
Developer: Beatshapers Ltd.
Original MSRP: $13.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 16
#killallzombies is exclusive to PlayStation 4.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

The last game from Beatshapers, Z-Run didn’t win me over. In fact it frustrated and annoyed me more than anything else. Every aspect was poor apart from the music so my expectations were very low as I loaded up their new game #killallzombies.

Gameplay:
#killallzombies is a survival action shooter set in a confined, almost arena-like area. Twin-stick run and gun controls with the Triangle button allowing you to pick a Perk. R1 reloads and X delivers a surprisingly effective melee attack. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Set in the near-future or an alternate world, I’m not sure which, and to be honest it isn’t even remotely important, the game pits a single player against a huge zombie population all in the name of television sport entertainment. If you’re broadcasting via Twitch, viewers are able to vote on a wide variety of things that dynamically alter the experience for the lone human. It sounds like the plot to a few classic action films have been melded together with one major exception, the viewers and their votes are real. More on that later.

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The arena is composed of hundreds of hexagonal tiles that can rise from the ground to create a blockade for both zombie and player. Sometimes they even collapse, opening up a dangerous chasm. You can even on occasion create a smaller arena trapping you and any zombies caught inside it, which is better than it sounds because if timed correctly it allows you to decimate the enemies that are trapped on the outside unable to reach you. I love this continually changing gameplay dynamic. By altering the landscape it turns what would be a dull repetitive game into something new every time.

Weapons are necessary for your survival when facing a zombie horde, everyone knows that! Thankfully there are many guns just lying around and all of them have an infinite supply of ammo, which is nice when facing a few thousand zombies. From the weak pistol to the painfully slow reloading shotgun or the devastating M16 Assault rifle there are a bunch to choose from.

Obstacles for both player and zombie constantly drop from the heavens. You’re given a warning in the form of a red glow just before the object lands normally giving you the opportunity to get out-of-the-way and maybe with any luck, guide a few zombies into the drop-zone. You’ll see anything from Ambulances and army vehicles to a 16 ton weight or a giant nut decoy. Yes, you read that correctly, apparently zombies love nuts in this game too!

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Zombies aren’t the only thing that want to rip your player apart. There are also rabid zombie dogs, a horrible looking boss, and even spinning blades that emerge from the floor – although the blades don’t care what gets ripped apart I suppose. Zombies vary in gender and size with the larger ones needing a few more bullets to take them down. While all of them wander in your general direction they only pick up the pace when they’re close enough to see, and I guess, smell you.

Perks range from the weak and almost pointless to the game changingly brilliant. Every time you kill an enemy your level meter fills and when it’s full you get the ability to pick a perk. You have four different random choices and the game pauses whilst you pick. Some exchange a portion of health for added speed or spawn a doppelgänger that either shoots when you do or attracts every zombie to it and then explodes. You can hold off on using the perks for when you really need them, or chance getting something that’ll make the early levels a lot easier.

When your character eventually dies you’re shown the stats for the game you just played and the zombie wave you reached. You can quickly restart the game or return to the main menu. I normally restart as this game becomes very addictive, ‘Just one more go,’ I say to myself as I dive back in.

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At present there is only one mode available to play, survival. With two others labelled as coming soon, Defend the Flag and Co-op which will be unlocked via a free update at a later date. Co-op really interests me, especially with the Share-Play option allowing any of your online friends to play as the second player.

Visuals:
The sheer size of the undead horde in this game is very impressive, with more than one thousand zombies engulfing the arena. Unless you’re the person trying to avoid being eaten alive, then it’s frantically terrifying. Combine that with spectacular explosions that make the hexagonal floor ripple with the shock wave. Loads of blood, spinning blades, camper vans and numerous other obstacles and traps also litter the play area.

Character models aren’t the best I’ve seen but the developer has to be forgiven for that for the simple fact that the screen never tears and there isn’t an ounce of slow-down or stuttering. When you have hundreds of zombies clambering about on a hexagonal floor that’s continually adjusting and undulating with every impact or explosion, I can’t help but be impressed.

Sadly there is only one arena for the entire game. Admittedly I wasn’t paying much attention to the edges of the play area but it still becomes a bit dull seeing the same things all the time. A few more choices would be brilliant and we will hopefully get some in the free update.

Audio:
Most of the sounds and music in this game ooze with relentless action that successfully gets your pulse pounding that little bit faster. There is a nice catchy main theme song called “You Better Run” by The Spin Wires. My wife did mention that the constant gunfire sound effects got a little repetitive but I didn’t notice. I guess I was too busy trying to avoid becoming a gruesome zombie snack.

There is a gritty voice-over announcement of various things in the game. For example, when you level-up or a random event is triggered. It sounds good but my favorite audio component in the game is either the Grim Reaper or Rainbow perk. Brilliant every time.

Online/Multiplayer:
Okay, there isn’t an online multiplayer mode but there is a very interesting online component. I mentioned earlier that the viewers and their voting is real when you stream the game via Twitch. Using the ‘Twitch live-stream interaction’ viewers can vote every eighty seconds on many things that either help or hinder the player.

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Voting and chat commands make this game a spectator sport allowing everyone to get involved but thankfully they have a cool down so people cannot spam the chat. Each command requires a certain amount of mentions before they work in the game. It really does change the game and can make things very frantic or if the viewers are being nice, a very welcome bonus to get you out of a messy situation.

Some cool commands you can unleash in chat: arena dongered, dealwithit, gieff death!, idkfa, dogwatch, wrong dongerhood, pewpewpewpew, raise your pitchforks! – The Official Twitch Blog

Some of these commands give your player health or a different weapon whilst others flip the screen upside down for several seconds or worse still, flip your controls. On one occasion just as I struggled to survive with one fragment of health the Twitch viewers activated a boss which instantly slammed my feeble character into the blood stained hexagons and I died.

#killallzombies has leaderboards so you can score chase with friends or see how you fare against everyone else in the world. By having a quick glance at the top scores I deduce they all must have cheated, or they play this game way too much. It might be a good idea to see if any have regular streams for this game, for a few hints and tips, and maybe help unleash a boss or two.

The best part about the Twitch game interaction is that it works so well and not only adds so much more to an already addictive experience but involves everyone that’s watching the stream by getting them to vote or enter chat commands. I’m going to push for this to be part of the yearly Extra-Life event as I would love to see Glenn and Josh play a few matches.

Conclusion:
Differences between #killallzombies and Beatshapers’ previous effort are night and day. Everything about this game screams quality and fun, especially when you have a group of spectators on Twitch helping or hindering your chances of survival. Beatshapers has managed to deliver a brilliant game that relies on skill, practice, mayhem, and maybe even a little help from your friends.

If you want to have a blast killing zombies on your own then you’ll enjoy this addictive game, or just stream it on Twitch and really get the most out of it. It’s really a joy to play and a pleasure to watch.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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