January 12, 2011
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Zombies and Pterodactyls, part of the Indie Games Winter Uprising, is a blast to play. A game simple in style and composed of some familiar elements, ZP2KX (that becomes a mouthful, doesn’t it?) is still executed well without coming off as hackneyed. The premise is simple… and hilarious: Pterodactyls decide to give zombies and humans guns and jet-packs and set them to killing each other. Humans love guns and zombies just want to be left alone (much like the Hulk), but no one really gives a crap what zombies think so they fight anyway. This all amuses the Pterodactyls so much that they take to flying the ‘competitors’ into their arenas to watch them kill one another for their pleasure. Seriously, zombies and dinosaurs, what else could you want?
ZP2KX is a strictly multiplayer action shooter affair, although you can play alone with bots to shoot you full of holes keep you company and get some practice. Controls are quick to catch on to, with some options available depending on how you like to play. The default is the twin stick method for shooting and your jet-pack, with the left stick moving you about and the right stick taking care of your shooting/aiming. Shooting can also be set to trigger fire, and jet-packing to the left bumper only. The D-pad and the Y button allow you to switch weapons, left trigger to roll, A to jump, X to reload, and B for switching grenades. Last but not least, the right bumper and right trigger (depending on how you set up your configuration) prime your grenades. The twin stick configuration was fine for my destructive tendencies, but the FPS crowd may be more used to using a trigger to fire.
Jet-packs add a different dimension to ZP2KX in giving more options in combat and making things more vertical than you might expect. Characters also have the ability (with different skills) to walk on walls and ceilings, which keeps gameplay varied and fun, and certainly keeps everyone on their toes. The 10 maps in the game keep this up, with there being a good variety in the areas available; from enclosed forts to shipwrecked freighters. The areas are big enough that the ten person games don’t overcrowd and become ripe with spawn-camping either, which is a plus. There’s five different modes including ones that allow for teams and others that are free-for-all. There’s also different ‘mutators’ you can apply to a match. For those who aren’t familiar with mutators, they are like ‘Man with the Golden Gun’ or ‘Throwing Knives only’ in Goldeneye. There’s more than a dozen mutators to experiment with.
I feel personally that ZP2KX has more in common with a game like Super Smash Bros. than anything else, but it definitely adapts the FPS multiplayer model of players being able to gain levels and customize their characters. You can unlock different clothes, skills, features, and additional slots to store your created character presets in. The customization isn’t necessarily endless, but there’s a ton of options available and different combos to try. There’s over 20 different, and I do mean different, weapons ranging from a standard pistol to an AK-47…that fires cats. (Reviewer’s note: Whether or not that gave you a feeling of giddiness and joy says a lot for how you’ll feel about this game.)
And that leads me to the final piece of what makes ZP2KX great: the humor. The start menu has actual informational messages, but also gems such as “This game will not mine all your data, partly because XNA won’t let us,” scrolling across the bottom of the screen. It’s readily apparent that ZP2KX doesn’t take itself too seriously. Read some of the weapon descriptions and you’ll learn they don’t take much of anything else seriously either. (Except Face-Off. Because Castor Troy is bad-ass.) Ska Studios did release a previous version of this game in 2009 (ZP2K9) but 2KX is the better version, being more fleshed-out, with more options and just as cheap at only 80 Microsoft Points. ZP2KX knows the roots it came from, but it also knows exactly what it is. And what it is, my friends, is awesome.
Out Of 5
This is the weakest part of ZP2KX, but that's not to say that it is terrible. It's actually better than what I would expect for 80 credits. Simplistic but stylistic, and consistent with the art style Ska Studios has presented in previous efforts like The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai. It takes a little getting used to, but it's charming in it's own way.
From the title screen to the in game music ZP2KX adopts driving, catchy little techno tracks throughout the game. Sound effects, from big things like explosions and bodies getting blown apart are done right, down to tiny details like dozens of casings hitting the ground as you unload your submachine guns.
Covered fully in the review above, the controls get everything right regardless of which avenue you choose. The fact that you even get a choice in control scheme is something some major games should take a cue from.
At its most simple the game is about killing the other guys first, as much possible, with snazzy weapons (Deathmatch) and getting cool stuff for it. It's a simple combination, but there's a reason it's still around. Add in the other four game modes (Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, and Zombie Hunt) and drop in the mutators, and things really get taken up a notch.
Let's see, there's an AK-47 that shoots cats, a cannon that shoots bees, a gun that fires double rainbows, a lightsaber, and Cloud and Sephiroth's weapons from 'Final Fantasy'. Did I miss anything else in the course of this review that should be telling you why you want to play this game for the glorious price of one whole dollar?