Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: February 2nd, 2012
The main concept of Undead Storm is a pretty straight forward one. You play as one of four characters in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, and you’re looking for other survivors. The only problem is that when you reach a place you think may have life, you are instead met with varying zombies, ranging from a simple easy-to-kill blue, to a large green Incredible Hulk looking creature that charges you and explodes when dead. There isn’t much else to the story aspect of this game, but what else do you really need for a simple title such as this?
Unfortunately, the levels suffer greatly, having only three to speak of. But, given the price, what can you really expect? There’s the Fear Factory, which was an experimental laboratory, Horror Hospital which is exactly what the title implies, and Carnage Crossroad, a rather inhuman in size highway. The first two stages actually look remarkably similar, but the third clearly stands out a little more due to its outside setting, having fewer areas where you can trap yourself into a corner on harder difficulties. To tackle these stages, players are given a choice of using one of four playable characters named Max, Master, Jenna, and Darren, the latter of which actually looks like the head from the Brain Age titles. Each level is divided into five waves, or “fears” as they are called, with the first four being traditional zombie attacks, and the fifth a boss attack. There are small “intervals” in between that offer health and weapon upgrades as well, which are also obtained by destroying certain objects like concrete blocks or pillars.
Aside the limited amount of stages, the graphics really aren’t anything too impressive either, though they get the job done. Outside of the game you have your typical higher bit resolution approach that looks relatively nice and exceptionally creepy. However, the in-game designs look more like a lower grade Dementium or slightly gloomier Doom approach. Sure this is designed as a DSi Ware title, and given some of the graphical capabilities of the Nintendo DS handheld this game is designed for, it does fit in decently. On the top screen you get a life bar map for each character and the weaponry details, as well as radar that displays your location and the others, as well as oncoming zombies. On the bottom is where the main gameplay takes place. There’s enough detail to the characters so that you know who you are playing and came make him or her out in the chaos, and the zombies are, for the most, largely different. However, the female nurse-looking zombie is only discernable by the little alterations in figure, height, and finger nail length.
But, one thing that kept popping up while playing is its similarities to the Left 4 Dead titles, but with the non-white character, and that’s about what this game is. In a way it’s a portable knock-off based largely on that concept with a Zombie Apocalypse top-down Shooter build. On top of that you also have an option of going on-line for Multiplayer, which is actually quite fun when you can get enough people to play it, or going at it in single player mode. The main decider of the challenge this game poses outside the gaming abilities of your teammates in Multiplayer is whether you choose to play on Normal, Hard, or Scream difficulty. Each one does offer up a rather different experience, with Normal being more of a breeze to play solo, and Scream nearly impossible to survive alone. However, in the solo mode, you will often have the help of some decent AI players that take up the roles of the other three characters. But, you have to help them up first by standing next to them and holding x. It’s a little annoying and rather pointless, but at least they are still there to help you out when things get rough.
The audio to this title isn’t really the best, but for the most part it does its job well enough. The gun shot sound effects are decent for a portable low-budget title, and the zombies can sound pretty good, if not stereotypical. The music, however, stands out nicely. While it is far from anything really impressive, it does carry a decent sleak, yet gothic tone to the synthesized sound, often being more enjoyable in its extended loop than blasting the same zombies in the similar looking stages.
The only real gripe to be had about this title, aside how limited some things can be, is the Super Nintendo style controls. Considering there’s no right analog stick, the developers had to use the left and right bumpers at the top of the handheld to be able to turn your character. For me and other older gamers with bigger hands, really putting a great deal of attention on those bumpers to turn your character while using the miriad of buttons to attack can really start to hurt just after a few waves, leaving you to have to pause the game and stretch your fingers and even your palms. But, for as much pain as you may receive, in the end it’s the best option for a title like this, as having the character fire with whatever direction he/she is looking at or moving in through the input of the left analog stick would be rather tiresome and annoying to control.
Go Series: Undead Storm has its pros and cons. The levels are largely limited, the character models are discernable but feature very few zombies aside the addition of final boss battles, the controls can lead to physical pain (especially on the Nintendo 3DS launch model), and it’s far from a unique experience. However, given what you end up paying, it’s literally what a gamer would expect. As a top-down portable zombie shooter with Multiplayer gameplay, as well as the option of Single player, and three varying difficulties to choose from, this title makes a nice addition to kill some time with (among other things). There also are eighty goals (the DS version of achievements or trophies) for you to strive at obtaining in each of the three stages. Overall, you get what you pay for in this title, and that ends up being a decent quality. Go Series: Undead Storm is a surprisingly enjoyable title you’ll have plenty of game time with, though may not be something you’ll come back to as often, or at all later on down the line…
Digital review copy of this title provided by personal funds.