Written on: 20/04/2006 by TOMLEECEE (121 reviews written)
Bad music and sound effects
Too hard for all the wrong reasons
Zombie Revenge was cited as an amalgamation of House of the Dead 2 and Streets of Rage - a zombie bashing 3D beat 'em up to do the Dreamcast proud. In hindsight, even uttering the aforementioned arcade classics' names in the same sentence as Zombie Revenge should be taken as an insult. That's down to the simple rationale that Zombie Revenge is clearly a half-baked, unfinished and amateurish take on the roaming beat 'em up genre. The connection to House of the Dead clearly comes from the subject matter - introducing zombies to world of pain and ultimate re-death via various combinations of fists, feet and firearms. You begin by choosing one of 3 characters - an average blonde guy, a fast girl and a strong black guy - from the very outset the clich barrel is looking worryingly empty. Then you set off on the quest to kick undead butt and are treated to some of the worst voice acting and cut scenes ever cobbled together on the Dreamcast - indeed, on witnessing them it's hard to believe that this is a Sega produced title. Once the game actually starts and the camera zooms out, the graphics do look quite sharp and you can't see the polygon joins and angular characters due to the distance from the action, but like the river of evil ooze running beneath New York in Ghostbusters 2 - they are still there, just cleverly hidden.
As you'd expect from a title of this ilk, there isn't much to do except wander around the various city themed stages and thump and boot the various forms of shambling zombie that appear and come at you baying for blood. The major selling point of ZR though, and the other reason it was likened to HOTD2, is that your character is equipped with a gun as standard and you are encouraged to use it to drop Satan's minions from a distance rather than engage in close quarters fisty-cuffs. You generally do this by utilising a rather ingenious lock-on system that is a bit like a 3D recreation of Virtua Cop's danger alert - when a zombie appears and you happen to looking in the right direction, a targeting reticule will materialize around it. At first it is quite large and green, but the longer you take to aim, the smaller and redder the reticule gets and at maximum aiming efficiency you can let off a round to the face that will score massive damage, usually flooring the monster.
This doesn't happen very often though because of the sheer number of enemies that are constantly attacking you. Add to this melee the zombies who also have projectile weaponry and you'll find that you barely have time to stand still at all, let alone pop caps in skulls from distance. What typically happens is that you'll get surrounded by a swarm of zombies and be attacked in sequence by all of them so your character never has time too initiate the 'run' animation - you just get hit over and over again until you die. In one area, I was exchanging hits with a big, mean looking chap in a 'you hit me, I hit you' kind of way, but because his power bar was bigger, I lost 3 continues and due to the fact that when you are resurrected you just appear back in the same position, it just carried on until the zombie was dead. Furthermore, if you do actually get a combo of fist-based attacks going, you are still vulnerable to the hits of other enemies surrounding you and as such will constantly have impressive combos interrupted by a cheap shot from behind.
You can pick up other firearms to compliment your standard pistol (shotguns, SMGs etc) and also hand weapons like axes, but the collision detection and drawn out nature of the animations mean playing Zombie Revenge becomes more a lesson in tedium than arcade thrills.
There are various play modes such as Arcade and Original, but nothing can detract from the glaring errors present in the game engine. The gulf of time between pressing a button and the animation being initiated is unbelievable, and really has no place in a game where speed is of the essence.
Zombie Revenge fares no better in other departments either. The music is generally unremarkable rock pap and the voice that announces every single item you pick up with a comedy echo effect will have you reaching for 'mute' before the end of the first stage. It's a bit like that voice in Tekken Force from Tekken 3 ("Chick-ennn"), but without the intended cheesiness and unlike the zombies, it's truly horrifying. Like I mentioned earlier, the graphics aren't actually that bad - when zoomed out the backgrounds look really hi-res and detailed, but when the action 'hots up' and the camera feels the need to zoom in, it becomes clear that everyone is made of Lego. I don't know why you'd need to use guns - surely just having elbows as sharp as this should be classed as possession of a weapon?
The enemies do differ in design the further you get into ZR, but they're not going to win any awards for originality - undead corpses, plants that have long whipping tendrils, mutants and the like. Yep, that clich barrel is well and truly empty - better get the scraper out.
The Dreamcast doesn't have that many roaming beat 'em ups, and those that are available are lacking in quality - Soul Fighter, Fighting Force 2 Zombie Revenge can be added to that list.
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