Games that aim to make their audience laugh are a very hard thing to pull off. After all, not everyone’s funny bone has the same comedic sensibilities, and that makes it a difficult line to traverse. As a result, for every Portal there are three stinkers like Deadpool waiting in the wings. Moonbite and Padaone Games are the latest companies to walk this tightrope, having sent their horror comedy first-person shooter Zombeer shuffling onto the PlayStation 3. The big question is: will it make you giggle or groan?
Waking in a Mexican themed bar, your character ‘K’ is feeling severely hungover following some high-spirited Hallowe’en festivities. After noticing that something’s torn a chunk of flesh out of your arm, you suddenly receive a message from your absent girlfriend Karen, who seems none too happy with your recent behaviour. Apparently, you’ve been flirting with a girl in a zombie costume, so she’s gone off to spend some time with the chancellor of your college, who goes by the highly improbable name of ‘Colon Duty’. We’re not making any of this up.
Seeing as the town’s in the middle of a full-on zombie outbreak, you’ll need to venture out into the night armed with a dildo in order to find your girlfriend and prevent your turd of a chancellor from having his wicked way with her. Moreover, you’ll need to ensure that your blood stream is topped up with your favourite alcoholic beverage Zombeer, otherwise you may turn into one of the undead on the way.
First things first, if you’re looking to take on huge hordes of reanimated corpses then this is not the game for you. Pushing the PS3 to absolutely nowhere near its limits, you’ll be facing off against groups of zombies that barely exceed the single digits. These enemies fill claustrophobic, linear environments which are littered with first-person shooter clichés (why are there so many crates?) that look like they’ve just been pulled out of a game originally released eight years ago. This is worsened by the muddy textures and lacklustre animation system that results in the living dead looking absolutely ridiculous.
These brain dead enemies make a beeline straight for you when encountered, and your only means of defence at first is to swing your plastic phallus in their general direction. To be honest, we weren’t sure if this was having any impact at all to begin with, as the enemies barely react when hit – but after a few swings we put the zombies down for good, and were left hoping that the rest of the game’s arsenal would be a sliver more satisfying.
Unfortunately, things don’t really improve when you acquire your first projectile weapon – the nail gun – as this is quite possibly one of the worst firearms that we’ve ever encountered in a game. The wimpy sound effects, complete lack of recoil, and paltry power will leave you reaching for your dildo again. More problematic is that the entire arsenal isn’t much better, leaving you fighting through the campaign without an entertaining weapon to your name.
This lack of enjoyment is accentuated by the unresponsive controls. Not only does the game lack the basic option to invert the Y-axis, but your character also moves like he’s walking through treacle. The ability to sprint for a short duration removes this problem briefly, but most encounters found us backing away from zombies, pumping them full of shots, before finally switching to the trusty dildo in case we ran out of ammo. The inclusion of a few ‘special’ types of zombies attempts to augment some variety, but you’ll probably just find yourself taking these out first before reverting to your usual routine.
In order to make your way through the five or so hours that it takes to finish Zombeer, you’ll need to keep your character lightly toasted with the titular thirst quencher. If there’s too little alcohol in your blood stream, you’ll become a member of the undead yourself – but having too much will lead to death by alcohol poisoning. As you can only carry five bottles at a time, you’ll need to be constantly on the hunt to keep yourself well stocked. Fortunately, there are plenty of sources to be found, including vending machines that can be hacked in order to provide an unlimited supply.
While this could potentially add some real urgency to your quest, we found that we hardly ever ran the risk of running out of the amber brew. In fact, the only times that we ever came close to zombification is when we struggled to determine where to head next, due to the confusing level design. As a result, the relentless chugging of ale really only serves to further the frat house humour that flows through the game.
The problem is that the release’s attempts at crude comedy fall flat without a single interesting character to bounce it off. Consequentially, there are far too many attempts to get cheap laughs by incorporating female zombies with inflated chests that jiggle all over the place, as well as more pop culture references than a whole season of Family Guy. Other attempts at humour include some developer commentary collectibles that aim to parody this popular feature, but end up feeling like they’re hitting a little too close to the mark. This is especially true when one clip sees the studio bemoaning the title’s production budget shortly before the game’s abrupt end.
Unresponsive controls, dull combat, and obnoxious humour that even the most immature gamer would find difficult to smile at makes Zombeer a complete creative disaster. Packed full of clichés and outdated design choices, this depressing digital download feels like the reanimated corpse of a failed nineties shooter that doesn’t even hold a candle to even the most mediocre of modern military affairs.