OMG HD Zombies! is a re-make of the PS Mini OMG-Z. Don’t be scared by the ‘Zombies’ in the title, because there is something to enjoy for the many of us who are already tired of the zombie shooting hype that has infested video games as of lately, including me.
This is because OMG HD Zombies is not your run-of-the-mill coop zombie shooter. It’s more of a strategic puzzle game. Its premise is simple: there are a varying number of zombies shuffling around on a single map screen and you have to kill as many as possible with a very limited amount of ammunition (you start off with 3 bullets). However, the zombies explode when they take ‘lethal’ damage and can in this way damage multiple other zombies in their vicinity causing a chain reaction or ‘wave’ of dying zombies. Strewn through most levels are exploding barrels, which can help the chain reaction goodness by lighting all surrounding zombies on fire, and in most cases, killing them.
There are two control options at your disposal. One has you tapping the zombie you want to shoot on the touch screen and is a bit too inaccurate for my liking, while the other uses your good ol’ buttons. You move the reticle using the analogue stick and unleash hell by pressing the X button, and use the R button to highlight different zombie types in various colours. All very simple and straightforward. The menu can only be controlled by touch, and I felt it got stuck and wouldn’t scroll as I commanded it to a bit too often for comfort.
There are 8 different zombie types in the game, who can all pass on the chain reaction in a different manner. These classes are the civilian, bloated, cop, soldier, bilious, mortar, runner and zapper. The civilian merely explodes, the soldier drops his military rifle which then continues to punch holes in other zombies and the runner impersonates an angry mother by running towards other zombies, ripping her hair out and screaming on top of her lungs. Some work better than others, though. I’m a huge fan of the cop and soldier zombies whose bullets travel across the screen and keep the chain reaction intact even when the zombies are far away from each other. The ones I disliked the most were the bilious zombies, who turn into pools of bile that most surrounding zombies casually stroll around and don’t help you much. Luckily, they’re mostly accompanied by more effective zombies and once you finally do succeed, setting off massive chains of splattering zombie explosions is very satisfying.
Each of these zombies can be upgraded using the in-game currency, which can be earned by killing more than a certain percentage of zombies in a level. Medals are also acquired through this system. You can upgrade different attributes of the zombies, some of which are exclusive to a zombie type such as the bullet penetration perk for the cop zombie. Naturally, upgrades become more expensive as you move up the ladder, and you’ll have to keep revisiting older levels and play them to perfection to gain the necessary amount of currency to progress through the harder levels. It’s a system that works well on the one hand, but does expose one of the game’s weaknesses; it’s not so much about skill as it is about gaining the necessary upgrades. This is also apparent because the placement of zombies and explosive barrels are random and the zombies walk around. This causes there to be no fixed way to pass a certain level; it’s just up to the right zombie and barrel placement as well as the upgrades you purchased, making passing a level feel more of a random happening than a personal accomplishment.
The game looks apocalyptic, that’s for sure. The art style is a bold venture, consisting of grey tones where the only colours present are bloody and fiery reds. It excellently sets the tone of the game; dark and gritty, but shamelessly over-the-top as well. The grey shades are present in the comic book-like panels which tell the story. They are excellently stylized, but sadly do not appear often enough to give the story (with multiple endings) any weight. The audio is in a similar ominous style but the music is ,sadly, a bit repetitive and is weighed down by the terrible sound effects (which you will be hearing often).
I’ll expand a bit more on the ‘multiple endings’ part. The menu of the game is set up quite interestingly. There is a single starting level, but the track to the end of the game doesn’t flow linearly. In other words, there is a branching level system in place. Passing a level allows you to unlock three adjacent levels depending on the percentage of zombies you clear from the map. In order to reach the final ending you’ll need to try hard to get a gold medal on some stages. This system works well but barely manages to be rewarding since it’s mainly a matter of getting enough money through the easy levels first before taking on the harder levels.
In conclusion, OMG HD Zombies is not a perfect title for it involves repetition and grinding in rather dull manner, but the game’s way of letting you kill hordes of zombies is immensely satisfying. On top of that, the game packs a lot of levels for the low entry price.