I normally refrain from purchasing download-only games for various reasons, but when my nephew told me about Undead Storm, I was intrigued. At just $1.99, I was getting a multiplayer game that involved killing zombies, so I got it. Was it worth the purchase?
Undead Storm is a top-view shoot ’em up action game for the DS where you get to fight against hordes of zombies either in single player or multiplayer modes. In both modes, you can choose from three locations (a factory, a hospital, and a city intersection) and three difficulty levels (Normal, Hard, and Scream). Each location plays relatively the same way – you have to endure four waves of zombies, have quick intervals between each wave where you get supplies, and one final wave where aside from the zombies, you have to defeat an end level boss. Each player can choose from four different characters which more or less fits the usual tropes that can be expected from a zombie game.
The gameplay is very smooth and easy to pick up – you have to move your character around the area, killing zombies using any weapons that you manage to find. There are three weapon types, and each type is mapped to its own button so you won’t have to deal with weapon switching. You have your standard pistol with unlimited ammo, your primary weapon which ranges from shotguns to grenade launchers, and your thrown weapons like grenades and Molotov cocktails. There are different kinds of zombies as well; a standard male zombie, a female zombie that spits venom that can slow you down, a fat zombie that can charge into you and explodes when it dies, and zombie dogs that are much faster and harder to kill. The action is all shown on the lower screen, with the upper screen containing a radar function so that you can easily determine where the zombies and your comrades are, as well as a status screen indicating the health and equipment of your teammates.
In single player mode, you get a little bit of narrative in the form of a first-person monologue of the character that you chose to give some sort of storyline to the game, but it’s so generic that it doesn’t qualify as an actual story. The biggest difference between single player and multiplayer is how the other characters are utilized – in single player, depending on the stage, you can encounter the other characters and rescue them. Once rescued, they become AI-controlled and start following you around while shooting at zombies themselves. Each character has a separate health bar, but any time you pick up a recovery item the entire group is healed. Also, the AI-controlled characters will sometimes randomly generate weapons as gifts (a thought bubble containing a gift icon will pop out whenever this happens).
In multiplayer mode each player controls one character, and there are no AI-controlled characters. Whenever your health bar is depleted, you get knocked out (flatlined, as per the game description) but you can be revived by your teammates. While you’re knocked out, you can move the camera to focus on either your character or one of your teammates, so at least you can still watch the action and not be left out completely. Teammates can revive anyone who’s knocked out with a press of a button, but there seems to be a limit to the number of times that you can be revived – whenever you get revived, your health is replenished by a certain amount but this becomes lesser each time you’re revived. The team loses the game once everyone is knocked out.
In terms of graphics, Undead Storm is functional in that you know what you’re looking at most of the time – you can tell each character apart, as well as each of the zombie and weapon types. I have to admit though, I’ve seen better graphics on the DS. The stages could use more flavor as they feel very empty and generic, and the character models look quite blocky. I’m actually wondering if it would’ve been better to use sprites instead of 3D models. We have to keep in mind that Undead Storm is a $1.99 game, and you get what you pay for in terms of the graphics.
The gameplay though, is worth more than $1.99. Single player can get repetitive, but there are very few games (even on the 3DS) that can match the intensity of Undead Storm‘s multiplayer mode. It took most of what made Left 4 Dead very engaging and put it in a handheld game. It’s not very impressive when you look at it but once you start playing with a friend you’re sure to be entertained.
I highly recommend this game to people who regularly play 3DS/DS games with a group – it’s an affordable game for four players and works great as fillers during long game sessions of Monster Hunter. I rarely extend my opinion as far as I’m going to now, but I have to say this – Undead Storm, in my opinion, got a lot of gameplay elements right. If a 3DS version came out with more stages, additional mission objectives, a fresh coat of updated graphics, and maybe online functionalities, it’s going to sell well. There’s simply nothing like this game right now on the 3DS that can accommodate up to four players.