The sheer volume of Zombie based games which have lumbered onto the market over the last few years is, you could say, somewhat of an epidemic; Thankfully, Laughing Jackal’s OMG HD Zombies takes a fresh approach when dealing with the rotting flesh of the undead.
Despite the name, OMG HD Zombies – described by the developers as a “HD redux” of 2011’s hugely popular OMG-Z PlayStation Mini’s title – is far less about the zombies, or indeed the HD, than you’d imagine.
At it’s cold un-beating heart, OMG HD Zombies is a puzzle game, and whilst there’s some thinly layered story about an apocalypse and an elite team tasked with clearing Redfield City of the blood-thirsty blighters, their inclusion is largely irrelevant. You could be shooting at perfectly healthy people, different coloured barrels, or fluffy pink kittens, for all it matters.
For reasons unknown (and unquestioned – just enjoy it), the infection seems to have manifested itself differently amongst a multitude of residents – with each zombie ‘class’ responding to your hollow-tips in a unique fashion; Some will simply drop dead, whilst others explode in a shower of gore, or melt into a pool of toxic goo.
There’s a couple of humorous new additions over the PlayStation Mini’s OMG-Z release too, such as the poor chap whose head pops off like a mortar shell, landing elsewhere in the environment and causing further chaos.
Spread over 100 levels, you’ll find yourself coming up against literally thousands of HD Zombies, and with ammunition supplies scarce, every single shot counts. Alas, you’ll need to vanquish the marauding hordes with carefully considered forethought.
Run ‘n’ gun style gameplay wont work here – in fact, you can’t run at all – you’re dropped into the uniquely monochromatic comic-book-style streets at a given vantage point and must target the right enemy to trigger a brutal street-cleansing chain reaction. OMG HD Zombies requires cun ‘n’ gun tactics.
Whilst the top-down urban environments of each stage are fixed, the zombies themselves are placed at random, and as such OMG HD is somewhat of an oddity for competitive gamers. It’s all in good fun, but with each stage having a scoring system attached to PSN trophies and global leaderboards, the least I’d expect is a level playing field.
(Maybe that’s just sour grapes though – I’m terrible at OMG HD.)
Of course, there’s two ways to look at this organic spawning system; And the unreliable placement of the zombies – meaning levels cannot be ‘learnt’ – brings unparalleled replay value and longevity to a game which would otherwise be short lived.
Each level can be experienced a hundred times over and a perfect shot would never be the same; Zombie type, density, and direction of movement all come into play – and whilst there’ll be times where a quick tap works, you’ll more often than not find yourself waiting for the perfect opportunity to shoot.
Controls are, as I say, extremely simple, with the Vita’s touch controls doing everything from navigating the menus to firing your rifle. The latter, unfortunately, suffers quite some degree of inaccuracy and did tend to get frustrating when targeting a particular figure amongst the crowd. Fortunately, you can switch to an analogue based control scheme as of that seen in the old game – which makes use of a crosshair and a fire button – should this be more to your liking.
After each stage you’re given one of four rankings based upon the number of infected you’ve managed to dispatch – with this you’ll also unlock new stages and in-game currency to spend on 100 weapon upgrades and modifications. The latter levels are all but impossible without these upgrades, but again, they also mean you’ll head back and replay earlier scenarios with a view to attaining a new high score.
If you do get completely stuck at any point, there’s also the option to buy a level-clearing ‘ZIT Grenade’ for £0.65 of actual money, but with the aforementioned upgrades applied this isn’t a necessity, by any means.
The slightly clumsy default controls and cluttered menu system shouldn’t put you off what is otherwise a wonderfully addictive puzzle title, oozing with style, substance and blood. Lots of blood.
Log on to the PlayStation store and pick up OMG HD Zombies now for £2.99 – You’ll thank me for it when you’re holed-up in a bunker somewhere trying to forestall global armageddon.