Monday, 29 September 2008

The poor blog is lonely.

Here's an update.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Review: Zombie vs. Ambulance

Zombie vs. Ambulance: The only chilling thing about this game is possibly the loading screen.

Title: Zombie vs. Ambulance (aka: Zombie Virus)
Developer: Vingt-et-un Systems
Publisher: D3 Publisher (JP), Essential Games (EU)
Year: 2006 (JP/EU)

Oh, Japan. You’re the zaniest country a lover of the bizarre like me could ever hope for. Sometimes I love you. Sometimes I just want to strangle you. Sometimes I want to have sex with you WHILE strangling you. This is exactly how I feel in the case with Zombie vs. Ambulance.

In Zombie vs. Ambulance (or Zombie Virus, if, like me, you got the PAL version), you’re a medical student who has survived a zombie apocalypse. Somehow. Realising that there could be survivors out there, you hop into an ambulance and rescue them. While running zombies over in large groups. With a female cheerleader voice urging you on. It’s one of those games that make you either go ‘That is the stupidest fucking thing I have ever heard of’ or ‘My god, that is pure genius’.

I’m not going to say what my opinion is because quite frankly, I don’t know. Ok, you know what? I’m going to give this two scores. One of these scores starts with a ‘T’ and ends in a ‘En out of ten because this is a fucking cool concept’ and the other starts with a ‘T’ and ends in a ‘Wo out of ten because GODDAMN EVERYTHING ELSE IS SO TERRIBLE’.

So, let’s get on with the review. As I have made clear, you drive an ambulance around in order to:
A) Run zombies over; and
B) Rescue people.

This is where it starts getting complex. All at the same time there are like several things you need to keep an eye on.

One is the ‘Morale Gauge’ – an indication of how your survivors are doing back at the hospital. This slowly drops over time. When I say slowly, I actually mean RIDICULOUSLY QUICKLY. Well, I’m sitting here now thinking that maybe, ok, in an actual zombie apocalypse type of situation, people would lose out pretty fast, go insane and all that jazz. So what, this game’s being realistic about a zombie apocalypse situation? I guess now’s a good time to insert a disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying that a zombie apocalypse MOST DEFINITELY IS NOT POSSIBLE. I’m just saying that chances are slim.

Did I mention that when the Morale Gauge runs out, it’s game over? Yeah, you’ll be seeing a lot of those in this game. The thing I don’t actually get about the Morale Gauge is that it’s present in the very first mission, when you haven’t actually rescued any survivors. Well, ok, there’s your sexy friend and a couple of other sexy women, but they don’t do shit – they just stand there and look sexy. And report your statistics to you. And save your game.

There’s the ‘Survivor Icon’, which are little outlines of people on the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Of course, the number of survivors you have with you is relative to how many of these icons you have. These slowly fill up over time because guess what? They gradually turn into zombies! In your ambulance. When this happens, the only way to get rid of them now is to crash into a wall at fucking high speeds, otherwise they damage… you? Your ambulance? Anyway, let them stick around for too long and you die. Game over.

The only way to prevent survivors from turning into zombies is by getting them back to the hospital, pronto. (Oddly enough, even though all your survivors back at the hospital are fighting off the zombie hordes, there’s always someone on hand to make these people all better. I learnt in movies that you can never undo zombification! Well, maybe those sexy friends of yours has something to do with it.)

Match all this up with the fact that the controls, well, suck, and holy shit is this game frustrating. Not difficult, mind you – I’m sure if I invest more than half an hour I’d be able to get a fair way into the game – just very, very frustrating. Shaking zombies off (the zombies who are already roaming around and attack you so fucking aggressively when you slow down for like one second) by twiddling the left and right analogue sticks is just plain awkward, especially while racing around corners at high speeds without crashing while looking at the map, trying to get back to the hospital, all while trying to run over as many zombies as possible so that you can keep your kill combo up, so that you can keep hospital morale up, so that you don’t get a game over, but HAVING to crash into walls at high speeds in order to get your zombified survivors out of the ambulance so that they don’t damage your vehicle so you don’t get a game over.

You see how long that sentence was? Trying to process my run-on sentence is exactly what the gameplay in Zombie vs. Ambulance is like.

So despite everything bad I’ve said about this game, there are probably some people shouting ‘But it’s a game about running zombies over! In an ambulance! How else should I spend my hard-earned thirty bucks?’ Congratulations, feel free to run out and buy it. Don’t say I didn’t tell you it had fucking terrible gameplay.

Honestly though, much like seeing The Clone Wars in the cinema for $5, I’m happy I have this game on my shelf. It’s one of those games that’s so bad, it’s good and has the coolest (yet the worst) concept ever. So to repeat what I said earlier:

[2/10] – It’s like I suddenly can’t drive all over again.