Barry Steakfries, zombie arse kicker extraordinaire, loves his job. Which is just as well because, thanks to his arch-nemesis Professor Brains, hoards of flesh eaters have been scattered through several time zones and it’s up to Steakfries to kill them… or rather, kill them all over again.
Halfbrick have (once again it must be said) gone all out with `the zany`when putting together Age of Zombies for the PSP Minis. Whether you’re shot-gunning zombie cavemen in the face, setting fire to crowds of zombie samurai with a flamethrower, or trying to turn a huge zombified T-Rex into mulch with a combination of an Uzi and Grenades, Steakfries’ time travelling adventure has its tongue so firmly planted in its cheek that it should have an ulcer a foot wide. If nothing else the myriad of quotes from everything from Resident Evil to The Simpsons should quickly give you a lay of the land.
While not quite being a twin stick shooter (primarily because it doesn’t use a second stick due to the limitations of the PSP and instead relies on the symbol buttons to shoot in the corresponding direction), it means the game doesn’t have to fit in to any of the `hardcore` pretences that might come with the genre. Here the emphasis is clearly on fun from shooting the hoards of zombies, some of which explode, others which shoot back at you. Coming into contact with them will drain Steakfries health and if the player isn’t quick enough to get away and let it regenerate, he loses a life. If you keep shooting enough zombies, helped by the different weapon powerup’s, eventually the green indicator on the left hand of the screen is drained and it’s on to the next. During every third stage, the way is blocked by an end of level guardian who must be removed and these usually offer a change of pace and require a slight change of tactics, even if the bottom line remains to just shoot it as much as you can until it keels over.
Halfbrick’s Age of Zombies is a game which is more than happy to plonk the comfy cap of nostalgia on your head, before giving it a full tug down over your eyes. With its heady (albeit slightly cavalier) attitude to the action, coupled with its old school viewpoint and sprites, it feels like a title that wouldn’t have been out of place in an arcade in the early 90’s. It’s the level of humour which helps make it what it is and while never side splittingly funny (what game actually is?) it’s the general irreverence and blatant potty mouthing which helps counteract the game being a little bit too easy. Although only made up of five different time zone stages and an unlockable challenge mode, it’s hard to genuinely criticise it in that regards because it’s simply trying to be a slice of mindless fun and in keeping with the ethos of the PSP Minis.
This mindless fun is something which Age of Zombies gets down to a fine art, proving once again that Halfbrick are becoming masters of creating these delightful little slices of throwaway gaming.