All Zombies Must Die! Scorepocalypse Review (PC)

In my review for the original All Zombies Must Die! I remarked that the twin stick shooter had been built on the foundations of the developer's previous game, Burn Zombie Burn.

Sadly, I can't say the same for the relationship between the first AZMD and its sequel All Zombies Must Die! Scorepocalypse. Why? Because it's almost the exact same game.

Given that the PC version of the first AZMD launched on Steam just over a month ago it's not really that surprising that so much content is recycled

The core structure has been revamped, removing the plot-based progression and open world, essentially returning to its roots as a score-based arena shooter. But so much of the original AZMD is reused here that it feels far too familiar right from the outset to be classified as a new game. The official press release calls it a 'standalone spin-off' rather than a full blown sequel but it feels so recycled that it would be disappointing even as downloadable content for the original.

Just to give you an idea of how much is reused here's a quick breakdown. Aside from a couple of new additions weapons, items and zombies are the same. All of the music tracks and stages are wholly lifted from the original. Besides the replaced character silhouettes, even the game's menu looks the same.

The only aspect dramatically different from before are the characters. The four playable protagonists from AZMD are conspicuously absent with the primary player assuming the role of generic macho soldier called McJagger. The small supporting cast are also new faces. However, given the shift away from story these changes really make no impact on the structure or the game play.

You can't blame developer DoubleSix for returning to its roots given how poorly AZMD turned out. Sadly, this attempt to retool the game into a Smash TV inspired shooter is also far from successful.

Considering how similar Scorepocalypse is to its predecessor it's no surprise that many of AZMD’s problems return. Zombies can still take you down in a couple of seconds should you get caught between a few of them and the majority of weapons still feel weak and not satisfying enough to use.

The music and stages are lifted straight from the first game, as is pretty much everything else

On top of these Scorepocalypse adds its own issues. It features only four stages which is surprising given that the original had seven (but even that wasn't many). New stages can only be unlocked in a linear fashion which wouldn't be so much of a problem had the unlocking process of saving a civilian on each level not been cruelly difficult. Bearing it mind how quickly you can get taken down when cornered by zombies, the defenceless inanimate civilians more often than not stand no chance when they get surrounded. When they do get taken out you then have to replay the stage from the very beginning to make another rescue attempt.

Now the game still utilises the same RPG style levelling system so in theory it would be possible to grind out experience points until you're powerful enough to handily dominate each level. But with only four reused stages and nothing new to see Scorepocalypse becomes the same monotonous grind-fest as the previous game just in an even shorter space of time.

It's worth noting that critics slammed the original for the amount of backtracking and filler sub-quests required for getting around. With the open world aspect removed this issue has been eradicated, however it's replaced with this need to grind and replay the same four stages multiple times. Ultimately, very little has been achieved.

As before it's advisable to play with friends to hold off the boredom for as long as possible. Also as before there is no online functionality which is extremely limiting. This is even more of an issue now since additional players will need PC compatible controllers to be able to play, not to mention actual physical space for up to four players around your computer.

Was anyone really asking for a follow up to the first AZMD anyway?

Is there anything positive to say about the game? Well, it at least has a decent leaderboard system that lets you compare your scores with friends. If it didn't have this then it would’ve been a complete wash as a high score-based arcade shooter.

Scorepocalypse will be selling for £3.19 on Steam but even for that low price it's a hard one to recommend to just about anyone. Those who've played the first game will either not want to touch another AZMD or be supremely disappointed at the sheer amount of regurgitated content here. Newcomers will likely get frustrated with the emphasis on grinding and repetitive game play. Unless you're some sort of grind-happy high score sadist then I'd give this one a wide berth.

Top game moment: As with any simple mindless game the experience is best with friends. It's just a shame that getting four people together to play it is even more difficult than before.

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