Confession: I am sick and tired of zombie fiction. From the movies to television to games, the slow-moving undead are everywhere these days. These brain-hungry monsters are even invading downloadable content, thanks to recent additions to both Borderlands and Red Dead Redemption. Like a real zombie apocalypse, these walkers are everywhere and I'm sick of it. I don't think I can stomach another zombie game!
At least, that's what I thought before sitting down with OMG-Z. UK-based developer Laughing Jackal (makers of Cubixx and Vibes) has managed to create a shockingly original puzzle game that just so happens to employ hundreds of slow moving zombies. With its addictive gameplay and creative design, this three dollar game has raised the bar for PSP Minis.
Your mission is simple enough, kill every last zombie in each level. Of course, that's easier said than done. You play a survivor safely perched high above zombie hordes. Unfortunately, you only have a few bullets to wipe out the masses and safely escape. In order to win you'll need to use the zombies against each other and plan your shots strategically. Fail and you'll be left praying for a miracle.
The good news is that each zombie dies in a slightly different way. The idea is to time the perfect shot and start a chain reaction of zombie genocide. There are five types of zombies in all, each with their own unique death. The Civilian Zombie explodes when shot, causing other nearby enemies to burst too. The Bloated Zombie also explodes, though it has a much larger blast radius. Cop Zombies fire a bullet straight ahead when they are killed, while Soldier Zombies spray an arc of bullets when they die. The final type is the Bilous Zombie, which bursts into a pool of acid when killed.
The idea is to use these five zombie types to take out more zombies, which in turn will hopefully keep the ball rolling. If you do it right you'll be able to take down dozens of zombies with only four or five bullets. The trick is planning out your attack and knowing how each zombie will react once shot.
The game features 81 increasingly difficult stages, each which reward players with medals and money. Earning the cash is essential; as it's the way you upgrade your weapons, add exploding barrels to the playfield and change the zombie's attributes. Thankfully the game's difficulty ramps up comfortably, always giving players more than one stage to play in case they get stuck. With so much money to earn and stages to master, it's easy to sink a dozen hours into this creative puzzler.
OMG-Z's graphics feel like they were ripped out of a Walking Dead-style graphic novel. The colors are muted and the world is appropriately torn apart. Players will see the same backgrounds repeated more than once, generally with new obstacles added. There's even an ending, though players looking for a story-driven zombie adventure should definitely look elsewhere.
The gameplay is nothing more than moving a cursor around the screen, hardly the deepest experience you'll have on the PSP. Still, the crosshairs move fast enough (especially when you use the analog nub) and it's generally easy to hit what you're aiming at. Best of all, the game doesn't allow you to waste bullets if you aren't targeting a zombie. I can see this game being better with a touch screen, but I had no problem getting to 100% using the D-pad/analog nub.
I wasn't prepared for how addictive OMG-Z would be. It's a casual game that just about anybody can get into, but the zombie apocalypse makes for a great twist. The game's 81 levels not only kept me hooked for hours, but had me missing important meetings because I couldn't put it down. By the end I wasn't convinced with getting silver and gold, I needed to rid every last level of this zombie invasion. I finally did, and had a great time every step of the way.
OMG-Z is a perfect example of what creative game developers can accomplish on budget. This PSP Mini is dirt cheap and one of the best games I've played all year. It has a simple premise that will keep players glued to their PSP (or PlayStation 3) for hours on end. I can't wait to see what's next for Laughing Jackal.
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