Review by Idiotechie

Reviewed: 05/04/06

Fun, fast, typical first-person shooter

I found this at an arcade on campus earlier this year, and for some reason my girl friend really took to the game. Thus, we've played it quite a bit over, and I can safely say it's been worth the many, many quarters we've put into it.

Graphics:

The graphics in this game are great, even by modern standards. The zombies look fantastic, with great attention to detail and dozens over different types of enemies. The characters are somewhat less detailed, but you rarely ever see them (just in the cutscenes), so it's not a big deal. The levels are well constructed, and the shooting animations are very well done. Really, there's not much to say other than it looks great.

Sound:

The sound isn't something you really notice, but it's fine for what it is. Zombies moan, groan, and scream their way to death, and the shooting sounds that accompany are appropriate. The actual level music is something you hardly notice, although the 5th level does have some rather strikingly weird music, which I only noticed when playing in an empty arcade. Again, nothing to worry about.

Gameplay:

This is what really matters, of HOTD4 delivers on this for the most part. You're equipped with a light machine gun for the entirety of the game, which makes shooting a relatively simple affair. You are also given 3 grenades at the beginning of every level, which you can actually control the trajectory of, and are good for clearing out large groups of enemies. The aiming system for the grenades is a little strange, and sometimes frustration sets in when the grenade flies past a group of enemies and completely misses, but after a few goes it's easy to get used to the system.

Enemies usually come charging at you in groups of various size and composition...and obviously the point is to kill them all. Most of them have their head as a weakpoint; headshots give you various levels of "shot evaluations", ranging from "good" to "excellent" to "amazing" to "perfect". These shot evaluations play a role in your score as well as your final stage grade. It's a simple, but effectively designed system that rewards experienced players who know the enemies and how to deal with them.

This game has a new "shake your gun" function where enemies will grab on to you, and you have to shake your gun to push them back on make them let go. Some people might find this a nuisance, but I really don't think it's a big deal. Shaking the gun is designed so that it's easier in one player than two player, unfortunately by a significant amount - you'll rarely ever lose lives due to shaking in one player, but you both have to shake crazy hard to get enemies off in two player. This can lead to pain in the wrists by the end of the game.

Every stage has lots of point bonuses and 2 life bonuses, which go towards keeping you alive (duh) and helping out your end of stage evaluations. At the end of every stage, your accuracy, headshots, and score are given a rating ranging from "not bad" to "perfect". Depending on how well you did cumulatively, you receive a rank from D to S and potentially 1 or 2 life bonuses. S's are obviously very hard to get (as you need all "perfects" in each category), but Bs and As (which provide 1 life bonus each) are reasonable enough to achieve. Again, it's a very simple system that works effectively.

The bosses seem to be a point of complaint for many people, but I have to say that they're actually quite well done and far from impossible if you take the time to figure out strategies. Most of them have an obvious weakpoint, and it's just a matter of knowing where and how to shoot in order to beat them. There are 6 (7 if you count the final boss as two separate ones) bosses in total, and a reasonably good player could get through the first 4 bosses not losing more than 1 or 2 lives total. The 5th boss is tough (but I personally never lose more than 2 lives, which shows that he is again far from impossible), and the final boss is purely pattern, and not impossible ones at that. A key to beating the bosses is to start unloading bullets into them BEFORE their "weak point/you can hurt them now" gauge shows up; that way they're eating lead from the get go, which results in a lot of quick damage before they start moving. Makes them a whole lot more manageable.

Storyline:

The storyline is your typical "zombies have overrun the world" scenario, with a couple of specially trained agents around to take them out. The lead characters are one Kate Green and James Taylor (I think), but you shouldn't be looking here if you're looking for a good story.

Overall:

This is a fast, fun, and easy to understand first person shooter that can be mastered with a few tries and some reasonable skill. It is repetitive and pattern-based, so you might get tired of it after beating it a few times, but it's still worth a few dollars at least.

8/10


Rating:   4.0 - Great

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