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Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3
Genre: Action
Developer: Moonbite
Release Date: Jan. 30, 2015

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PC Review - 'Zombeer'

by Brian Dumlao on Feb. 23, 2015 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Zombeer is a first-person-survival-horror-comedy-shooter.

When a game is universally flagged as terrible, it usually stays on the console on which it premiered. The chances of anyone giving it a shot after so many bad reviews is so low that the port job feels like wasted hours that could have gone toward something else. Zombeer seems to ignore this train of thought. Just about everyone agreed it was a bad title on the PS3, it has somehow made its way to the PC a year later. For those hoping for an improvement, prepare for disappointment.

Playing as K, you wake up from a drunken stupor in a Mexican-themed bar with a bite mark on your arm and a message on your phone. Apparently, your girlfriend was mad at you for hooking up with a costumed zombie and ran into the arms of Chancellor Colon Duty instead. For some reason, you don't panic since you know that constantly drinking Zombeer stops you from turning into one of the undead. With dildo in hand, you rush off to the school to get your girl back.

It's one thing to go for an off-the-wall theme. It's another to fail so badly at making any of the strange stuff work. For starters, all of the humor is heavily reference based. You'll encounter a Jigsaw head from the movie "Saw" and a Necronomicon from "Evil Dead." There are also references to "Fight Club" with the carved bars of soap, a small passageway themed in Minecraft blocks, and a set of warp pipes from Super Mario Bros., complete with a few collectible coins. The problem is that none of this makes any sense. There's no reason for having any of the stuff there except that the developers could do it. Your character doesn't point out why it's strange that you're carrying a green question block or make fun of a chocolate and strawberry birthday cake in the cafeteria. The references are there, but players are immediately bored by them.

It also doesn't help that the hero K is completely unlikeable since his lines fall flat. Any line of dialogue that he says barely elicits a chuckle, and he's the only guy talking for most of the game. This changes near the end, but even then, the other character, a cosplay artist, is barely likeable too. There's some incidental dialogue from other unseen characters that falls in the same category, leaving the developer commentary as the only thing worth listening to, even if it is presented in an emotionless state.

The core game is like the plot in that it is basic but overly flawed. This is your typical modern first-person shooter with no visible health meter since it has a regenerative health system. You can only carry four weapons, but since that's all of the weapons available to you anyway, this works out as planned. Drinking is introduced as a gameplay mechanic. Since you're infected, you have to constantly drink Zombeer to prevent yourself from turning. Unlike your health, you have a meter to go with the changing screen color to notify you of when you need to drink. You also can't drink too much since you'll expire from alcohol poisoning, forcing you to monitor your alcohol levels instead of just topping off and forging ahead.

While novel, the mechanic is rather annoying since the meter drains very quickly. This forces you to drink all the time, which leaves you open to attacks since you can't hit someone and drink at the same time. You'd think that this, along with the fact that you can't carry more than five bottles of beer at a time, would make the game challenging, but it actually does the opposite. Beer bottles litter just about every place you explore, and there are even vending machines you can hack for an unlimited supply. Drinking beer is something you have to do to prevent a "Game Over" screen from appearing, and it doesn't make the game memorable — at least in a favorable way.

The enemies are limited in variety and end up being rather boring to fight. The standard zombie comes in all sorts of clothing combinations, but they all have the same idea of rushing in to claw you. Cheerleader zombies pump up the strength of the regular zombies. The mime zombie roars at you, depleting your health as long as you're close. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the party zombie boosts your alcohol level until you get poisoned.

The zombies come at you in rather small packs. At most, you'll only face about two to three zombies of any type at a time, and they're replaced by rather small waves of more zombies. If it weren't for your meager amount of health, the packs wouldn't be much of a threat. The only time this changes is when you reach the end scenario, when multiple zombies of different types arrive in a small, enclosed arena. By that time, the fights have already become rather tedious.

The combat also makes fights more tedious than exciting. The nail gun, in both regular and modified forms, seems to inflict the same amount of damage to enemies, who won't flinch when getting hit. Shotgun fire from an octopus gun is a little better because it concentrates fire on one spot instead of spreading out the pellets like a normal shotgun. The Molotov cocktail also fails to make enemies flinch, even though it spreads to a wider area than the other weapons.

Oddly enough, the only reason you don't want to use the dildo is because it's a melee weapon. It's about as strong as the other weapons, which speaks volumes about how unsatisfying the shooting is. It also doesn't help that visual feedback for hitting enemies and getting hit by them is rather lacking. Picking up items can become a chore since you sometimes have to be at the correct distance and angle before the grab icon appears.

To top it all off, there are scenarios that seem arbitrarily thrown in to make things different. You'll get a few Quick Time Events where you'll instantly die if you hit the wrong button. You'll get a tightrope-walking mission only one time because you need to make it to another room. You'll also get a scenario where you have to do a QTE to barricade a normal-looking zombie. Considering you've already slaughtered dozens of them before this occurs, it doesn't make sense why you'd fear this particular one.

That's really the key takeaway from Zombeer. There isn't anything here that makes any sense, and the game mechanics follow the same thought process. The actual mechanics work in the sense that you can complete the game, but there's no satisfaction when you finally complete it on any difficulty level. Should you find yourself playing this, you'll be thankful the game can be finished in an afternoon since it means you can move on to something much more satisfying.

The graphics are tolerable in some sections. Built in the Unity engine, the game runs rather smoothly except for one part, where smoke fills the screen and the frame rate takes a significant dip. The style of the buildings and creatures is artistic enough, so you can ignore things like the gangly limbs and jaws, but the costumed bikini zombies with overly swaying breasts seem disgusting in numerous ways. Both the headshot pop-up and the tombstones that appear once a zombie has died are kind of cool to see, but they get old really fast once you've seen it multiple times in the first few minutes. There are also some clipping issues, so zombies can fall through the floor and you can go through a few doors that you're not intended to go through at all.

The sound is in a similar state. The guttural sounds of the zombies are good enough, and the gunfire sounds muted and ineffectual, fitting in with the uselessness of almost all of the weapons. Sound balancing is all over the place since you'll sometimes get songs that are loud enough to make your speakers crack. The songs also repeat and have a period of silence between replays, and they sometimes start up at odd times, like during the tightrope sequence. On the bright side, some of the songs are pretty good, giving you some reason to stick around for the credits.

Zombeer is bad. The humor is scattershot and groan-inducing, while the gameplay is barely functional. The graphics spend too much time on useless animations and not enough on anything useful, while the sound is awful except for parts of the soundtrack. The short play time is the only positive thing about the game, but even that isn't enough to recommend the title to anyone.

Score: 3.0/10

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