Atom Zombie Smasher
Have ever wondered about pulverizing zombie hordes with indiscriminate artillery fire? You have? Well, you’re a right proper lad/lass. And I have an indie game just for you: Atom Zombie Smasher! Ride a zeppelin, order artillery strikes and troops movements, save suicidal, moronic civvies!
It’s the 1960’s, and the sunny country of Nuevos Aires is beset by the pink hordes of “zed”. Nuevos Aires Orbital Control has wasted a lot of resources while gaining nothing, so a violent coup (though in South America it’s considered tame) was thrown. Now you’re the last, best hope of the new regime! Go, smite some zed and rescue some hapless civvies!
The game is split between two modes – strategic map and tactical missions. Gameplay in the strategic map happens in turns. Special rules for the turn (such as faster helicopters, slower zombies, etc.) are laid out, zombies invade a few territories, you get to choose which zone to try and liberate, the outcome and the points are counted and added to the victory bar. The victory bar shows your campaign progress: at certain points you’ll unlock some bonuses, like, oh, I don’t know, extinction level orbital weapons. The trick is that zed have their own victory bar. If they fill it first – you lose. The points are gained from missions and held territories, so it’s quite important to capture.
Don’t get used to seeing this too often
For you see, the real-time tactical missions can end successfully only in two ways: either by rescuing every survivor (some will definitely get munched on by zed) or by killing every zed. Rescue is somewhat easier, but it makes the territory inaccessible both to you and the zed. Killing the pink bastards, however, gives the territory and its victory point bonus to you. It’s a lot harder than you think: this has to be done before all the survivors are safely extracted, to sign book deals. The mercenaries are randomly selected each turn (a lot of combination make zed extermination simply impossible) and more zombies are made as people are infected, or the night falls and even more zed flood the streets. Or worse.
But you command a zeppelin (a blimp) and gosh darn it, you earned it, so that means you will find the best way to use the tools given to you. Apart from special weapons there are mercs that will do your bidding. In a default campaign, there are seven categories of troops, you have one of each and three of them are randomly given to you each turn. The fourth is always the evac-helo. Three branches of hired soldier can controlled in the field: artillery (the biggest killer, naturally), snipers and infantry. These are the best, because you can, if not move them, at least target them. Try to keep them out of the harm’s (explosions) way. Artillery is placed on buildings and can be ordered to fire almost anywhere on the map, though the hits take time to travel, so plan ahead. Snipers also camp on a building and snipe any zed that wanders into their targeting area (which can be repositioned). Infantry run around on the ground level and can handle low-to-medium density zed mobs. Since the grunts are green, zed find them distasteful and don’t attack. And there are the self explanatory barriers, mines, remote explosives and zombie bait. All mercs level up according to their performance – the fastest ones to do it usually are the artillery and helo squads.
Shit storm incoming!
And it all comes together just fine. Barricades herd zed into killzones, baits can be used to get a lot of zombies in a tight, artillery barrage friendly position, infantry can be used to defend the unwashed masses huddling around the evac site… And while the games style is minimalistic – people are yellow, shiny rectangles, zombies are pink – it lets you create drama inside your own mind. Like ordering an artillery strike on a crowd of survivors so they wouldn’t turn zed or infantry squads defending the rapidly relocated LZ from incoming zombies… It’s all great fun when a plan comes through, though you will have to press F9 a lot of times.
And the game allows for customization – you can set the campaigns victory point goal, add the ability to choose merks or remove the possibility of restarting a mission. You can also mod the game or play it with two friends (assuming you’re a weirdo who has two gamepads and friends lying around).
If you have 10 euros burning your pocket, it’s not the worst way to spend them. The game is fun and immersive (I once left a pot on the stove for half an hour). And while it is quite short, you can stretch it out by vanilla campaign modification options or by modding it yourself.
- The humor is brilliant: it’s like a Tarantino movie about blowing zombies up
- Gameplay is fast and fun: mastering artillery is as easy as pressing restart mission
- Excellent design: The art and the story are quite interesting
- Easy to learn: the learning curve isn’t steep
- Costly: Might be too short for its price