Friday, November 11, 2005

Zombies!!! (the game)

Have you ever settled in to watch a new zombie flick, only to be disgusted by how stupidly the living behave? Instead of trying to board themselves up in some safe location (which is NEVER safe - it ALWAYS has a back door or secret tunnel or something), they should be arming themselves and getting out of town! You think to yourself, "I would go to the gunshop, stock up on 12 gauge shells, stop by the hardware store to grab a couple axes and a chainsaw, then jump in the pick-up and get the hell out of Dodge!"

With Zombies!! you can test that strategy and many others. This surprisingly satisfying little game offered by Twilight Creations has become a cult classic of beer and pretzles gaming. When the dead start to walk around downtown, you get a shotgun, kill as many as you can, and try to be the first one to the helipad. The rules are dead simple (heh) - both movement and combat are resolved with single die rolls. The map is revealed one tile at a time, and you can pick up health and more shells in the various buildings, plus other fun items like skateboards, fire axes, and my favorite, the molotov cocktail.

For you competitive types, there are also special cards that allow you to feed your neighbor to the ravening hordes. Nothing is funnier than playing "Your Shoe's Untied" on a guy as he's racing to the heliport, or the classic "We're Screwed" (which deposits 10 extra zombies on the board) on a player with no ammo!

Like any good zombie flick, this one has spawned sequels. Zombies 2: Hard Corps(e) is an expansion that combines with the original game to take the action to a military base. There you can discover the secret lab and the government enhanced zombies made within. Of course, you can also avail yourself of various bits of military hardware - the rocket launcher is particularly sweet!

Zombies 3: Mall Walkers makes the natural connection between the restless dead and... shopping. Game play is much the same, but the action takes place inside the mall. Beware the escalator...

Zombies 3.5: Not Dead Yet introduces the dreaded collectable element to Zombies!!. In addition to adding 50 new cards to the pile (good), this rule set also allows players to build their own decks prior to the game (bad). Some of you may not be familar with my feelings on CCGs (damn you Richard Garfield, may you rot in hell). To put it simply, if ordinary gaming is healthy monogamous sex, then CCGs are pedophilic snubfilms, ok? Let us never speak of it again.

Zombies 4: The End takes the action to a secluded cabin in the woods, and introduces us to zombies dogs and the secret tomes that animate the dead! Similarities between this expansion and the Evil Dead series of movies are purely coincidental. Obviously. There were no dogs in Evil Dead. Duh.

The most recent offering of the Zombies!! franchise is Zombies 5: School's Out Forever (What - just because they called the last one "The End" you actually thought it was over?). In this one, you are in college, trying to get a degree in survival, with a minor in improvised weapons. Along with new cards and map tiles, this one offers a new rule - guts. I haven't actually seen it yet, so I have no idea what guts does for your character. I'm guessing it makes him more, um, gutsy.

Next time you feel the need for shotgun-wielding, brain-eating fun, don't go the video store - stop by your local gaming shop and pick-up Zombies!!. The gaming store probably needs your money more badly, and your porn habit will keep the video shop in good shape anyway.