The zombies are coming! Really, that just about sums it up. You, and up to three (un)lucky others, get to try and survive in a world now overrun with zombies. Day after day you need to shoot, saw, explode, and outwit your brain-hungry tormentors until you finally fall or you make it to the end of whatever mode you chose (default of 55 days).
The game is aptly seen as a sort of evolved SmashTV in its gaming action.
I found the graphics to be quite appealing, especially for an arcade game. When I obtained the demo my concern was it would be a glorified Flash program. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity to the various zombies, the zones, and the main characters. Other than in night missions (where things are supposed to be hard to see), I never had a problem distinguishing between a zombie and the background art or one of my fellow players. Sometimes, however, when the gore is flying it does become difficult to target living zombies (for lack of a better term) amongst the mist of gibs and fluids.
The sound was subtle and non-obtrusive. Gun/explosion effects and the environmental devices (which zombies can be shot into) were definite audio highlights. The music never became annoying, but that may be because it really is downplayed in the game. I'd say if they had a solid musical score it could have improved things, but as long as this game is to play it likely wasn't feasible for an arcade title (in which case, keeping the music soft and behind the effects was probably for the best).
The control scheme for this game is simple and it works. Left-analog to move, right-analog to control weapon direction and shoot. Triggers for various chainsaw stances, and bumpers to toss teddy-grenades. There are no awkward button combinations; the controls feel good in the hands of a novice or a pro, and it would be very difficult to get frustrated over a death due to having troubles with the controller.
I am knocking it down a point on controls for one reason, and that's sometimes your weapon (particularly the chainsaw) may look like it's going to hit a zombie but then fails to do so. This might be graphics issue, or it might be that the aiming control isn't as precise as it could be. I'm not sure, so I've chosen to note and discount it here because I felt most strongly it was an issue of precision.
There isn't really a story, beyond what I put in the description. In that way, this is a lot like Left 4 Dead. Also like Left 4 Dead, you do get a bit of a back story about the four playable characters. It is humorous, but ultimately is forgettable and without bearing to the game, as these characters do not banter while trying to survive.
None of this effects game play, but it likewise means it's pretty average for the genre in terms of limited story supplied.
Replay Value (6/10)
This game wants to be replayed, badly. But, I think it only succeeds slightly above average in that regard. One does unlock a variety of game modes, but most of them probably won't be particularly appealing for more than a few tries. So, really it comes down to leaderboard competition. That's going to work for some people, but not the majority.
Achievements can add replay value, but Zombie Apocalypse drops the ball on it. They are just too easy. You can get all but one achievement in a single campaign play; the last one requires winning a harder, time-consuming mode, but even that becomes physically simple given you have infinite continues. The only real skill-based achievement involves surviving for seven game days in a row, and that is quite achievable solo and can be a joke in multiplayer if done in the early levels.
"Fun" Factor (5/10)
It's fun enough, but it could be so much more. It's hampered by some flaws in particular:
1) No achievements seem to be given in local multiplayer;
2) Local multiplayer does a limited screen zoom-out, and then stops. This artificially reduces the size of the zone compared to a single-player match or an online multiplayer;
3) Online multiplayer has lag issues for clients (hosts seem unaffected) once zombie quantities reach certain levels. Zombies appear to "teleport" slightly as the game refreshes their locations, making shooting slightly more difficult and avoiding the more lethal zombies substantially more difficult;
4) Online multiplayer can be buggy, too. In one three-player game (of Seven Days of Hell, the hardmode with the final achievement), I (a client) lost the ability to see the other client playing (likewise, that client could no longer see me). The host could see us both, and vice versa. Both clients also could no longer see weapon drops, as all drop locations perpetually displayed their possible weapons. After completing Day 6 (where the error appeared), Day 7 continued to have the bug. The connection held the entire time, and the game was completed, but even the scoreboard at the end failed to permit the clients to view each other. Why didn't the game auto-correct the bug after a day's conclusion?
My assumption is there's a chance that #3 and #4 above may get fixed in a patch, since those are clearly flaws (rather than design choices like the first two). If they were fixed, I'd probably bump this game's fun factor up to a 7/10. The game didn't list the lack of achievements in local co-op, however, and I am disappointed in that and the limited screen behavior, as I feel this could have been an ideal party game. As it is, it has strength as a good multiplayer time-killer game...should the online bugs get smoothed out. Till then, it's really hard to enjoy this title fully.
Overall score average: 6.6
Score-to-Star Translation Guide:
5 stars: 9.01 to 10 (out of 10)
4.5 stars: 8.01 to 9
4 stars: 7.01 to 8
3.5 stars: 6.01 to 7
3 stars: 5.01 to 6
2.5 stars: 4.01 to 5
2 stars: 3.01 to 4
1.5 stars: 2.01 to 3
1 star: 1.01 to 2
0.5 stars: 0 to 1