Age of Zombies is brought to you by Blitworks and Halfbrick Studios, who are most famously known for the slicing game Fruit Ninja and endless runner Jetpack Joyride. It is the protagonist of Jetpack Joyride (the brilliantly named Barry Steakfries) who makes a return as the guy with the guns in Age of Zombies.
The game (originally released as a PlayStation Mini) tasks you to take on the evil Professor Brains, who has sent an army of the undead into many different periods of history, covering feudal Japan, prohibition-era America, Ancient Egypt and more. Barry follows the zombies through each different era equipped only with his trusty pistol and his witty (if not at times tedious) one liners.
The game itself plays out as a top down twin stick shooter. You will find yourself running and gunning around through the various maps of each world, killing off the waves of zombies that come at you. You start each level with a pistol with unlimited ammo and the game then drops various weapons into each map for you to pick up and use until you run out of ammo, ranging from Uzi’s, Shotguns and Bazooka’s to Mines, Buzzsaws and a Hoverboard to give you a speed boost.
Each chapter has three levels to play through, with the third of each chapter including a boss fight at the end, in one ‘boss’ level you will have a screen full of zombies and a zombified T-Rex to contend with, which can get quite frantic.
The game is quite kind in that it will give you three lives at the start of each level and if you are struggling it will drop extra lives around the map for you to pick up. This makes the early stages a breeze to get through, but some of the later levels can become quite tricky as the zombie count increases greatly with the onscreen meter that depletes to show you how many more zombies you need to kill for level completion seeming to never move.
The main story mode of the game is quite short, with six worlds in all to play through taking about fifteen minutes or so per world to get through. Once you complete each world, you will also unlock a set of corresponding maps which you can then use in the game’s Survival mode, fighting wave after wave of zombie until they get the better of you.
Age of Zombies simple game mechanic is also matched by a perfect control scheme, making perfect use of the Vita’s dual analog sticks, whereas the Mini version had to make do with the PSP’s solitary nub and the face buttons provided the directions for the shooting. Using the analog stick for the gunplay gives the player a greater control of Mr Steakfries aim and the game is much better for this. The only button you will need in the game is the PlayStation Vita’s right bumper, this is used for trajectory weapons including grenades, dynamite and sentry guns that you can use when the going gets tough.
Age of Zombies is a great looking game, the 2D characters are designed with great detail with the ninjas, mummies and gangster zombies that you face all looking the part. The weapons when fired give off a great effect (especially the grenade blasts) and the levels are perfectly animated with architecture relevant to the time period you are in.
The music also fits in with your location, with different tracks for each era visited. There is also an announcer who will tell you what item you have just picked up, this also changes with the level theme so that you will have a Japanese man shouting each weapon at you as you move over them which never failed to make me chuckle to myself as I was playing.
The one thing that I was thankful for was that the game’s dialogue is all done via subtitles. Barry Steakfries plays like a combination of every single Eightie’s action hero and has the corny one liners to boot. At first these aren’t too bad (with pop culture references including music, film and other video games) but these are regurgitated with great frequency throughout the game so much so that you start getting bored of them before the short lived campaign is through.
But don’t get me wrong, Age of Zombies is a good game. It is ideal for short bursts of gaming and has a pick up and play style that doesn’t require much thinking about. If you’re looking for a game to make you think, this isn’t for you. However, if you want something quick, mindless and easy to pick up, you can’t go too wrong with Barry and his one man war against the brainless.