Publisher: Square Enix
We had a controversial love affair with All Zombies Must Die! when it released earlier this year. Sure, Doublesix's zombie shooter was twinstick by the numbers, but its light RPG elements and personable visuals won us over and kept us coming back for more. DLC was inevitable for a game with such a basic framework, but rather than showering us with a bitty content campaign, Doublesix decided to launch a cut-price, standalone expansion pack that can be bought and played individually. The result is Scorepocalypse, and once again, the name says it all.
Playing as veteran soldier McJagger, players return to Deadhill in order to eliminate the entirety of the undead population (I'm trying not to reuse the title too many times), picking up a few extra characters and better weapons along the way. However, in stark contrast to the original game, this is just a premise rather than a true gameplay hook - since the focus is now on accruing the biggest high scores and combos possible in order to compete on the leaderboards. You'll fight off infinite waves of zombies in tight quarters until you die or your fingers fall off, eventually emerging with a high score and some persistent experience for your troubles. And then you'll do it again. And again.
That's right. Strip away the standalone element, and Scorepocalypse is that most heinous of beasts: arena DLC. Can Doublesix' humour and personality help to redeem this reviled post-launch gambit?
AZMD's core concept is definitely still intact. You'll kill zombies. All the zombies. Simple WASD and mouse controls allow you to manouevre around the small maps, corralling the ever increasing numbers of charmingly-animated undead horrors into manageable groups and occasionally restocking your ever-depleting ammunition. Each stage features a few respawning weapons to pick up, many of which feature interesting status effects, and killing the undead rewards you with experience to spend on some limited character upgrades. Guns can be improved and imbued with elemental effects via a workshop between stages. It's an unbelievably simple setup, but thanks to the adorable character design and varied enemy types, the gunplay is fun while it lasts.
This time, however, each kill adds to your cumulative score, which is further increased by undertaking challenges. These randomised timed objectives task you with killing a certain number of specific zombie types, acquiring a particular powerup or finding a few scattered collectibles. Though it can frequently be difficult to work out exactly which type of zombie you're supposed to prioritise judging by the simplistic target picture (they all look alike), the fact that these sub-missions are constantly switched up helps to add a compelling new draw to the otherwise incredibly repetitious experience.
Scorepocalypse would have worked well had it been included as part of the original game, and it's certainly worth considering picking up as part of Steam's All Zombies Must Die bundle pack. But judged on its own merits, this expansion falls short in several key areas.
First of all, Scorepocalypse only contains four stages - two of which are lifted wholesale from All Zombies Must Die! Repetition and monotony sets in hard and fast, exacerbated by the need to unlock the latter three levels by... say it with me... massive, massive grind. When grinding is the whole point of the game, having to do more of it just to unlock new backgrounds to even more grinding is ultimately self-defeating.
Moreover, almost all of the enemies, guns and content are recycled from the original; there's a shocking dearth of new and unique material. This makes Scorepocalypse a somewhat unattractive proposition for fans of the franchise, and worse, means that new players are much better off buying the first game and passing over the expansion altogether.
After seeing the likes of Trials Evolution and Motorstorm RC weave competition into their DNA, playing Scorepocalypse simply feels backwards. The leaderboards aren't fun to compete on, they're segregated away from the campaign and can only be accessed by quitting the back to the menu. I expected to be told when I was approaching a friend's score, or informed that I'd totally annihilated someone who had previously lorded it over me, but the new emphasis on scoreline hasn't been followed through within the gameplay itself.
PC owners may also feel a little cheated by the fact that Scorepocalypse feels like a console port... even though it isn't. Press Start? Erm... right.
And most bizarrely of all, no effort was made to add online multiplayer. We much prefer couch co-op here at Dealspwn, but the simple fact of the matter is that this omission was called out by practically every single critic when All Zombies Must Die! released at the start of the year. Directly cooperating (or better yet competing) for high scores would have been a thoroughly welcome addition, and Scorepocalypse's unbelievably simple setup should have made its implementation fairly easy. For the majority of PC owners, squashing four players around a single monitor is an uncomfortable undertaking, and galling when the experience is much more fun when played with friends.
- Undeniably good fun in the short term
- Fun randomised objectives
- Compelling RPG-lite elements
- Four maps + recycled content = massive repetition + poor value
- Wasted opportunity for dynamic leaderboards and in-game competition
- Online co-op?
The Short Version: All Zombies Must Die! Scorepocalypse is fun as far as it goes, but Doublesix's standalone expansion puts us in a rather awkward position. Newcomers should spend an extra £3 on the vastly superior original game, while there's nowhere enough new content to warrant an immediate purchase if you're a fan. Get it in the AZMD Bundle or not at all.