The top-down shoot-em-up will never die.
Despite the simplicity of the classic genre, players don’t ever get tired of playing them. From classics like Smash TV to more modern titles like I made a game with Zombies in it!, gamers everywhere take a break from all other games to return to the rinse-and-repeat formula of shooting things that have a habit of swarming you.
Undead Empire: Hellfire
Developed and published by Big Rook Games
Available on the Xbox 360.
Big Rook Games is the newest contender in the genre, with their newly released sequel to their first game Undead Empire. Titled Undead Empire: Hellfire, the sequel promises to be bigger, badder, and more fun than the first. And for 80 MSP (it’s an indie game, if you must know) is it worth your hard-earned dollar, or should you save it for a rainy day?
I say you should get this one.
Undead Empire: Hellfire takes places right after the events of the first game. Dr. Hubert Von Scythe was just about to be caught, but he now unleashes new terrors – like zombies, killer dogs, birds and moose! – upon the players and gets away. Can the players reach him in time and save the world before it’s too late?
The story is very minimalistic, but it really isn’t much of a concern because the game is all about killing things. And killing things is what you’ll be doing because you’ll be swarmed by enemies before you know it.
There are three main modes in the game, and all revolve around players taking on waves of enemies, each increasing in number and ferocity. There’s Campaign Mode, where players take on the game’s story, Survival, where players are tasked on surviving as long as they can with a sliver of life, and finally Multiplayer mode, where up to four friends can join up together and tackle the game.
Gameplay is fun, but pretty basic. Players start off with their basic weapons, and earn cash by defeating zombies and picking up cash left behind by them. Cash is used to purchase new weapons – like machine guns, SMGs, Sniper Rifles, automated turrets and more – and can also be used to upgrade them, get more ammo and even some health.
Cash becomes very important as you progress through the game, because the waves of undead can get pretty intense and you’ll need the firepower if you’re to survive unscathed. What’s unfortunate is that the cash will disappear after a time, so if you got a horde behind you and can’t navigate the environment safely, you’ll miss out on a lot of dough that can help you in the long run. This is particularly hurtful in single-player mode because all the enemies will be focused solely on you, which can be a big pain in the butt.
Zombies start off small and can be easily dispatched in a hit or two, but soon enough they’ll get tougher and are joined by large, fat zombies, dogs, birds, moose, spitters, and more. Each enemy has it’s own properties, and are a blast to fight against, but the gameplay pretty much devolves into the player running away and shooting at them when there’s some breathing room. Not that I’m complaining though, since it’s pretty darn fun, especially if you’re playing with a set of friends and have a winning combination of upgraded weapons and automatic turrets.
The indie title does have its set of flaws though, which would be very serious if it wasn’t only setting you back a dollar. Amongst the issues are small stages, enemies who have a habit of moving erratically and getting stuck on walls, enemies who magically teleport and go through walls, badly titled items in the store, and more. These issues can be particularly annoying, especially if you think you’re safe behind cover only to find that the game let the creatures go through so they could murder you. Still, most of these can be overlooked, and if you’re playing with friends they can be ignored.
Overall, Undead Empire: Hellfire is a fun top-down shoot-em-up that can be great fun if you give it the time. Sure, it does have a couple of issues, like zombies that occasionally go through walls, but it will still provide loads of fun, especially if you bring friends in tow. For the price of a dollar, you can’t go wrong with this one.