Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: All Out of Bubblegum

Welcome to The XBL Indieverse's Review of the zombie twin-stick shooter All Out of Bubblegum. The game name is derived from the classic phrase from Duke Nukem himself:  
"I'm here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of gum."
This game may seem like a clone of other zombie XBLIG's at first glance, but rest assured it has it's unique elements--four player co-op, for example, or an amazing assortment of weaponry, and even the ability to strategically build your own protective structures which brings RTS to the game's mechanics.

All Out of Bubblegum 80 MSP

 All Out of Bubblegum!
  •  Rating
  • Developer – Dennis McWilliams
  • Genre – Shooter
  • XBL Marketplace URLAll Out of Bubblegum
  • Release Date –2/1/2011
  • Try or Buy?Try Before you Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP
"Fortify your defenses and take up arms against the zombie horde. Up to 4 players can build structures, place turrets, choose from an assortment of weapons, and then watch the giblets fly."
                                                                                           --Xbox Live Marketplace Description
I.    Story Line

This particular XBLIG zombie shooter doesn't really have much of a story-line and has no introduction or scenes during gameplay. It's more focused on survival and killing zombies rather than a linear plot. The characters are standard and are differentiated simply by color and have no real persona or characteristics.

The game pits players in what appears to be an suburban neighborhood that's been overrun by zombies, and it is up to our heroes to save the world from the marauding undead; using fun and expansive weaponry players can either save the suburbs from the flesh-eating zombies or die trying in this action-packed Indie gorefest.

II.   Game Mechanics

This XBLIG title utilizes twin-stick mechanics for movement and shooting which makes it much like other zombie shooters such as "Zombie Concentration" and "Zombie Estate" in terms of functionality.

Also, much like those other games, the zombies body parts can be shot off and it takes a few shots to kill the zombies completely. This dynamic adds more challenge to gameplay by making players continually target enemies since one shot (or even three) doesn't stop these brain-eaters.

All Out of Bubblegum puts emphasis on both reaction skills and strategy, as when the waves of zombies and undead get overwhelming it is essential to have a good strategy to evade their attacks. Enemies come in waves, and once all enemies are destroyed in a certain wave players get the chance to buy items and to build structures.

 Image from All Out of Bubblegum!

The structure mechanic is a very awesome and unique feature that isn't found in most zombie shooters, twin-stick or otherwise. This rare feature gives gamers the chance to add fortifications to the open killing grounds and can provide sanctuary from the onslaught of undead. Players are limited to the amount of blocks they can build per round, and players are also timed while building.

As far as overall gameplay goes, this shooter is set up with health that is represented numerically instead of a bar or meter, and there is a limited number of lives in a pool. When playing co-op, each player has their own respective health and lives--the lives aren't shared but are individual.

After each round players earn an amount of cash that is dependent upon your score--how well you did, how many times you died, etc. This cash is used to buy items at the beginning of each new round. Dying can also subtract from your score and losing all lives means Game Over.

Image from All Out of Bubblegum!

III.  Weapons/Items

Possibly the best part of the entire game is the weapons that are used to expel the evil zombie minions. Since ammo is unlimited and rates of fire are different for each weapon (each shot has a short cool-down depending on what kind of weapon) the weapons themselves are extremely gratifying to use.

These weapons can range from the lame (but effective) pistol, which is the starting weapon, all the way up to a motor-bike with chainsaws on the sides (yes, it's a real weapon and it's pink).

There are also RPG's that launch slow but devastating missiles, Assault Rifles that have high rates of fire, a Shotgun that has a spray radius, Plasma weaponry which just annihilates everything, a Flamethrower that ignites nearby enemies...yet the best weapon of all is the Chainsaw Bike because it is the most fun to use.

On this pink zombie-annihilator players can have a lot of fun because the bike itself is very fast and maneuverable as well as extremely deadly--players only have to sideswipe enemies to cut their limbs off, etc.

After each round players are able to buy these weapons as well as precious health packs that are extremely useful especially on the later stages. Gamers can actually expect to complete some waves with as little as 10 health then buy a health pack to restore it back to 100%.

 Image from All Out of Bubblegum!

IV.   Unique Features

This particular zombie shooter is unique for many reasons, one of them being the twin-stick controls. There are quite a few twin-stick Indies out there, and they all use similar mechanics--one analog stick controls direction of shots, and the other controls movement. All Out of Bubblegum's twin-stick mechanic operate much in this way, and the shots are very fluid and exact--overall it's a very well designed control system.

The weapons are another unique feature of this fun, action-packed twin-stick Indie. There are many different types of weapons, each with their own function and ability, and players can amass a nice armory of weapons unless they die--upon death the most powerful weapon is taken out of the player's armaments. These weapons provide players with a fun shoot-em-up experience, especially when using the more powerful weapons like RPG's and Plasma Rifles.

This particular Xbox Indie can be up to four players co-op, and with this many players the game itself unlocks its full potential for enjoyment. When having even another player to help you out this game is less challenging, but with four players its an all out kill-fest. This game is only local multiplayer, however, but it is perfect for gamers who are used to playing with friends.

 Image from All Out of Bubblegum!

V.    Critique

The Good

It's Great Fun! All Out of Bubblegum is a fantastic four-player twin-stick zombie shooter that provides hours of entertainment that progressively difficult--that is as players get farther in the game, it gets harder and harder. Either with four-players or playing solo, this Xbox Indie provides challenging gameplay as well as the chance to hunt zombies with powerful weaponry.

Four Player Co-Op. There are many Xbox Indies that offer four-player local co-op, but there are few that are like this particular game in that four players work together to destroy the oncoming zombie onslaught. Also with four players, the structures that are built can become quite expansive, this offering safe refuge for players with low health.

Enhanced Weaponry. Few zombie shooters offer the expansive choices of weapons that All Out of Bubblegum offers--there are so many choices, and each weapon will stay with the player until they die. Amassing a collection of powerful weapons can be the difference between life and death in this game, and in four-player co-op, having a whole team of players wielding Plasma Rifles or Chainsaw Bikes is amazingly fun. 

The Bad

Graphics. Although I'm the kind of gamer that doesn't focus on graphics, every gamer is different. The graphics for All Out of Bubblegum aren't the greatest, even though everything is in 3D, there are some moments where things are too dark and where enemies are a bit blocky. This may turn off some players that instantly look at it and judge it for how the game appears at first glance.

It's Challenging. A good challenge isn't so hard to find in twin-stick shooters; alot of the time they're quite difficult, especially on singleplayer. This is especially true for this game; novice players might find it to be quite complex and difficult and may be put off by the level of skill it takes to play these sorts of games.

VI.   Wrap-Up

As you can see, there are many unique features and positive aspects about this twin-stick zombie shooter that set it apart from other similar titles in the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. At only 80 MSP, this game is reccommended for all those that enjoy the types of games that are like DDI's "Zombie Concentration" and James Silva's "I Maed A Game w/ Zombies In It".

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