You can’t have missed the zombie epidemic the gaming world appears to have succumbed to recently. You can barely put down your virtual guns to get some rest before another release shuffles into view, offering yet another batch of the undead that only you are able to eradicate through the use of the kind of brutality that would make the average Daily Mail reader’s head explode.
The point will come when the joy of liberally blasting digital brain matter will wane, but for now we’ll continue to regard the relentless onslaught as a good thing. If you’re of the same opinion, then consider Age of Zombies.
You’ve no doubt encountered this strand of top-down, twin-stick (or analogue nub and face buttons in the PSP’s case) gaming before, so expect few surprises. Here you’re the wise-cracking and memorably named Barry Steakfries, and must travel through time zones decimating the hordes of zombies that get in your way.
Your journey sees you setting off in prehistoric times before moving on to the 1930s, ancient Egypt, feudal Japan, and, finally, the future.
Each of the areas offers three zones, with an end-of-level boss encounter punctuating a time shift, and along the way you get access to an increasing arsenal of weapons that include a roster of very usual suspects (you know the type: shotgun, uzi, flamethrower, minigun, grenades, mines) - these appear as crates in random locations within the large-ish play areas.
Age of Zombie's play is pleasingly smooth and responsive, while the pace of the action keeps you on your toes - from the moment the first lifeless ghouls turn up, you won’t get any respite until the last one is downed.
Their numbers are impressive, too, and you’re guaranteed panic-inducing moments of scrambling towards a power-up, frantically holding back a screen-full of zombies with your weak, standard issue machine gun. The satisfaction of regaining the upper hand by massacring opponents following the acquisition of a more powerful weapon never diminishes.
A shame, then, that you’ll be through the Story mode in under an hour. And with only a Survival option to add limited substance, things feel a little on the light side - compare it, for instance, to fellow Minis offering Dracula - Undead Awakening, which offers fewer zones but considerably meatier play options.
Other niggles aren’t as serious, although still worth pointing out. Unlike the cute, detailed, cartoon-like visuals the music leaves much to be desired and many may find Barry’s relentless quips grate surprisingly quickly.
That aside, there’s a great deal of fun to be had with Age of Zombies. It doesn’t advance twin-stick shooter gaming in any way, but it remains an accomplished example of the genre and its quick-and-easy nature should see you returning for some mindless blasting enough times to get your money’s worth.