Bruce Campbell? What are you doing in my video game?!
Hundreds of zombies are surrounding me. My SMG is out of ammo and my health is virtually nonexistent. I throw a grenade into the horde and blow them back to Hell. Should I make a run for the shotgun or hold them off with my pistol? I pop a couple in the head and go for the shotgun. Three more sets of hands punch through the ground, right next to the shotgun and I cut a hard right, away from the much needed weapon, and straight into an even larger pack of zombies. I die instantly and start laughing; partially in disbelief at the occasional difficulty spikes, and mostly out of pure enjoyment at this little gem of a game I’ve discovered.
Age of Zombies is an adorable, simple and sometimes hardcore twin-stick shooter. The simplicity works well for the game, as it does not take itself seriously and is mostly a “one trick pony.” You kill scores of zombies, grab weapons/ammo/power-ups, try not to die and repeat. Your shotgun wielding protagonist, Barry Steakfries (of Jetpack Joyride and Monster Bash fame,) is some sort of a parody of Ash Williams combined with any given meathead action hero from the eighties. He makes cheesy one-liners the likes of which only Arnold Schwarzenegger could come up with. The graphics are suitably cartoony and feel appropriate for the inherent lightheartedness in Age of Zombies.
The overall straightforwardness of the game is its standout feature. It does not pretend to be anything but a fun, carefree, “beat in a single sitting” experience; and it succeeds handily. My expectations were set in the same general area that most of my phone-based mobile gaming falls. My frustrations with the game did not feel as justified when I considered the nature of Age of Zombies. The formulaic twin-stick shooting was done well enough, with the constant spawning of new, better weapons to blow zombies away with. Every few stages the setting changes drastically as well, keeping the scenery fresh. The plot is basically nonexistent, but given the essence of the game, that neither adds nor detracts from the overall experience. The best thing that Age of Zombies has going for it, is that it stays at least somewhat fun for the entirety of its short length.
The cons of Age of Zombies are valid complaints. There are frequent difficulty spikes that will happen throughout the course of the game, at seemingly random intervals, resulting in some frustratingly strenuous sequences. I also feel that Age of Zombies would benefit greatly from some light upgrading and customization options. The pistol becomes nearly useless about halfway through the game, as zombies are too resilient at that point. Upgrades in fire rate, spread, range, et cetera, would have been a nifty inclusion, and made it less of a death sentence when you run out of ammo with a better weapon.
Age of Zombies is a fine game, if your expectations are set somewhere in the realm of typical mobile gaming. It is nothing special, and probably will not command any more of your time after completing the story once. That being said, it was fun from beginning to end, with most of that being a result of the cute, cartoony graphics, witty, satirical writing for the Barry Steakfries character and not taking itself too seriously. If you have $5 to blow on a little “timewaster,” you won’t find much better than this on the PS Vita.