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Do you remember back in the late 2000s when zombies had surpassed vampires as the newest fad, and were becoming a tedious narrative hook just as rapidly? Twilight was finally, mercifully being seen as the cringeworthy trash that Robert Pattinson assured us it was from the word ‘go’ and to fill the void were a bunch of undead flicks and video games that would range from gory and horrifying to cliche and laughable.
Movies like World War Z and games like The Last of Us took a more serious approach to the zombie narrative. However, there were some IPs that decided to go in the exact opposite direction, shooting for laughs, not gasps. Zombieland is perhaps the most notable example of a zombie story that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I’ll tell you what I remember about Zombieland as a film. I remember that Emma Stone got her big break off the back of this film (as well as Superbad) despite being handed the role of the most deeply unlikeable character in the flick. Jesse Eisenberg would land himself a lead role in The Social Network for doing his best Michael Cera impression, and Woody Harelson was given a free role as a one-liner merchant, which largely carried the entire production.
It’s perhaps not a movie that would have the same appeal in 2023, but due to nostalgia, and the gun-happy themes of the movies, this property was adapted for VR, and surprisingly, it works very well.
The game goes for an arcade-like, House of the Dead style format but also does many novel things that lean into the series’ comedic value. Is it corny and over-the-top? Yes, absolutely, but for some incomprehensible reason, it just works. That being said, how well does it work overall? How much content is on offer, and how enjoyable is this high-octane, gunslinging VR upgrade to the game first launched in July 2021? Well, let’s talk about it over a Twinkie.
Here is Zombieland Headshot Fever Reloaded Review, conducted on PSVR2.
Rule #163 – Remasters Always Look Better
There is an unwritten rule when it comes to producing remasters. They always have to blow the predecessor out of the water in terms of aesthetics, and if they don’t, then you best be prepared for the wrath of the general gaming populous. This rule is why it’s baffling to me that developers sometimes make the decision to remaster games that are a couple of years old. How much better can they actually look after that short period of time?
Well, within the world of VR, especially as it is still a rapidly growing medium, a few years is quite a long time, as can be seen through Zombieland Headshot Fever Reloaded’s improved visuals. If anyone played the original, you would know that it had the same cel-shaded art style and comic-book-esque overlay. However, it was a lot more washed out and grainy.
Well, on PSVR2, this game has had a glow-up, offering comedic cartoon visuals that are very much in line with the source material, and a lot sharper than its predecessor. Then when you couple this with the assortment of genuinely thumping tracks that really get you in the mood for squeezing triggers and popping zombie heads like cherries, you have a presentation that really hits the mark. It’s not going to win any awards, but I don’t think it would be reasonable to ask for much more.
Arcade Anarchy With Extra Quips
Let’s jump into the gameplay for this title, which is the reason why you’ll buy this title, and if you like arcade chaos, it will be the reason you stick around for the long haul. To put it succinctly, this game is the VR homebrew version of all those games you probably played in arcades in your local area. Games like Time Crisis or House of the Dead spring to mind. You know the ones.
The type of games that eat your money, ask you to wield a clunky pistol peripheral, and would see you take out a second mortgage to so much as clear a few levels. Well, this game offers that same experience, but the good news is, you can play as much as you like.
The gunplay is very intuitive, with tight mechanics to allow for precise aiming even at a distance, and thanks to the varied weapon and perk load-outs, you can alter your approach based on the level you are hopping into. However, you may be asking what sets this game apart from the typical on-rails shooter. Well, I would have you refer to rule two of the Zombieland survival guide, double tap.
This gameplay gimmick allows you to chain headshots for a higher multiplier and the benefit of slow motion, allowing you to be more accurate and take out more undead enemies in quick succession. It’s a cool addition, not unlike Rollerdrome’s Bullet Time mechanics, and it makes aiming for the head very rewarding, indeed.
What has to be said is that the game doesn’t do an excellent job of making the level’s bosses stand out or provide a much more intense challenge. I would even argue that some of them were easier to take down than the fodder enemies. However, the fact that they aren’t so tough does lead to fast-paced levels that only last 1-2mins at a time, so it’s a fair trade, I suppose.
The only downside to this action-heavy on-rails format is that it essentially negates any opportunity to tell a cohesive story. Aside from the sole motivation that you are training to compete in the Zombieland Invitational, a zombie-killing competition run by a crazy dude, there is practically no story of note here.
It would have been nice to see some cut scenes between missions, or perhaps some comic storyboards, at the very least. However, in a game that leans on gameplay above all else, I would have welcomed it as a nice bonus rather than a requirement for success.
Not Exactly Re-Loaded With Content
So here’s the gripe I have with this re-release. Aside from the aforementioned visual enhancements, the game is a like-for-like port of the previous version. This is a problem on two fronts. Firstly, if you were a fan of this shooter and wanted to pick up a revamped version for PSVR2, you might as well not bother, because you will have been there, done that, and got the bloodstained t-shirt.
Then secondly, for the newbies to this game, even if you are coming at this with fresh eyes, the content is still pretty threadbare. So if the player isn’t motivated by the repetitive arcade structure, then they could easily finish this game in less than five hours, B-sides included.
The B-Sides and achievements do give players some end-game reasons to stick around, but the disappointment here is that the team couldn’t add some bonus levels, or offer some new game modes to make this worth the price of admission. I think even an extra three-mission tier would have been enough to bring some existing players back to the title. It’s a missed opportunity, and reeks of laziness, to be perfectly honest.
Some Grave Disappointments
I mentioned above that the game suffers from a failure to innovate, which remains true right down to the finer details. The game had an opportunity here to absolve the sins of the first attempt, and optimize this experience. However, there are still a lot of issues that were just as prevalent when this was released in 2021.
The biggest issue has to be the second weapon, which still feels awkward to grab from its holster. It would be much better if it simply remained in your hand by default, like your first weapon. However, when you let go of it, it goes back on your hip, and when there are hungry zombies bearing down on you, this seals your fate more times than it should.
Then to keep this trend going, the game also has some issues that stop you from tearing through levels at speed. Primarily the gaze function that has you look at the marker to move to the next room. I found myself waiting for the next zombie, only to turn and see a marker waiting for me to look it’s way.
It would be much better to have a dedicated button to move to a new section, not only because this would be faster, but also because it would allow players to search for the hidden items in levels without being inadvertently moved along the zombie-killing conveyor belt against their will.
Sadly, this pacing issue also seeps into the most unique aspect of the game, the double tap mechanic. Sadly, due to some slightly askew-level designs, it can be damn near impossible to rapidly chain headshots to keep huge multipliers going. It only further confirms my suspicions that the developer was only willing to rub a damp cloth over this game rather than give it the proper polish it needed.
If you have blazed through this game but still want to continue this zombie-killing frenzy you find yourself in, then worry not, my trigger-happy friend, because I have some super options for you to check out listed down below:
- Time Crisis
- House of the Dead
- Virtua Cop
- Dead Space Extraction
- Arizona Sunshine
- Resident Evil 4 VR
- Pistol Whip
- Graphics are vastly improved from the initial release
- Gunplay, the double tap gimmick, and weapon load-outs are all handled excellently
- The title is true to the source material, with plenty of corny quips
- The game is insanely replayable if you are motivated by high scores and bettering yourself
- Add no new content when compared to the original, so there is no reason for existing fans to buy
- A lack of quality-of-life improvements
- The game is short if you aren’t motivated by high scores
Question: When Was Zombieland Released?
Answer: Zombieland (the movie, not the game) was released back in October 2nd, 2009, with its sequel Zombieland: Double Tap coming a decade later in 2019. This movie was well-received at raked in a whopping $102 Million. That’ll buy you a lot of Twinkies.
Question: Who Were the Original Actors in Zombieland?
Answer: Here is a quick list of the characters in Zombieland and the real-world actors that played them:
• Tallahassee – Woody Harrelson
• Columbus – Jesse Eisenberg
• Wichita – Emma Stone
• Little Rock – Abigail Breslin
• Bill Murray – Himself
Question: How Many Zombieland Rules Do We Actually Know?
Answer: The movie constantly refers to the Zombieland survival guide, which is presumably jam-packed with rules. However, we only ever get to hear about a handful of them. At the time of writing, we are only aware of twenty-eight of these rules. Who knows, maybe we will get a sequel and learn more of these zombie apocalypse tips.
Overall, Zombieland Headshot Fever Reloaded may not be a title that excites the weathered VR Populus, as it is effectively a reskin of an already existing VR title, but it is a very competent arcade shooter that has been given a nice new coat of paint, and serves as a great game to bolster the PSVR2 launch library.
The game’s gunplay still feels as tight and refined as it did before, the visuals are vastly improved to offer a much more high-definition cel-shaded art style, and if you are someone that enjoys the repetitive nature of arcade games and loves trying to beat high scores, then this is a must-play for you.
On the flip side, the game doesn’t offer any new content when compared to its non-PSVR2 release, and this includes the developer’s decision to neglect much-needed quality-of-life improvements. The left gun still feels awkward to grab when moving at breakneck speed, the eye-tracking to move between rooms still feels quite slow, and the double tap feature, while outstanding, is let down by some levels which don’t allow for consistent multiplier chains, no matter how accurate you are.
All in all, if you want cheesy quips, a game that is infinitely replayable, and to blow zombies heads off with guns akimbo, then this is the game for you!