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Burn, Zombie, Burn! fizzles

Brad Gallaway's picture

Downloaded Burn, Zombie, Burn! from the PlayStation Network a few days ago, and I'm quite done with it now. Honestly, I really don't understand how he can be so hard to make a game about killing zombies. It seems like an absolutely simple thing to do, yet I can't think of a game that has nailed it. Burn, Zombie, Burn! is no different.

Burn, Zombie, Burn!

Basically, the game is like Robotron 2084 or Smash TV at heart. One hero, hordes of zombies, and a bunch of weapons on one screen. The difference between Burn, Zombie, Burn! and those two is that that those two are classics—I sincerely doubt that anyone will remember Burn, Zombie, Burn! existed in six months, let alone a few decades.

Although I will admit being disappointed that there was only an Arcade and Challenge mode (No story mode here. Bah.) the game would have been just fine regardless except for the fact that the developers made some really unusual choices that have a significant, depressive effect on gameplay.

For example, it's the standard these days that intense shooters implement the twin-stick formula. Move with one stick, shoot with the other. There's no denying that it works. In Burn, Zombie, Burn!, the developers have mysteriously avoided this control scheme and went with something completely different: a choice between shooting in the direction you're moving or computer-assisted auto-aim.

Burn, Zombie, Burn! Screenshot
Can you find Waldo in this picture?

I really don't see any benefit to this setup, and the decision to go with these controls seems more like an effort to not be like other games, rather than anything that really dovetails with what's happening onscreen. Shooting in the direction you're moving is a death sentence with the absurd number of zombies on your tail, and although the auto-aim is deadly effective, you can't single out specific targets with it. During my time in the game, there were endless instance when I wanted to hit one specific zombie in a crowd in order to trigger a death-averting explosion, and just couldn't do it.

The other really bizarre choice on the part of the developers was to overcomplicate what should really be a very simple formula. I mean, killing zombies with a variety of weapons—do you really need anything else? Instead, the game is based on score and the only way to get into the absurdly high upper tiers is to work the oddly thick system that's in place.

(Stay with me, this gets a little confusing…)

The point of the game is to earn a high score. Killing zombies straightaway earns next to nothing, and the only way to rack up big numbers is to get a high score multiplier and eliminate large numbers of them simultaneously via explosions.

Burn, Zombie, Burn! Screenshot
Farming TNT powerups

Killing normal zombies rewards the player with either life-ups or worthless TNT. In order to make TNT effective, TNT-ups must be collected by killing zombies that are on fire.

Setting zombies on fire with a torch gives a score multiplier. Killing zombies on fire rewards the player with vital TNT-ups needed to take out large masses and rack up points, but it also lowers the score multiplier at the same time.

Still following? Instead of crafting fast, reflexive action or just good, old-fashioned zombie-killing, Burn, Zombie, Burn! becomes all about running around and dispatching normal zombies to get life-ups as needed, then setting more zombies on fire, harvesting the TNT power-ups, setting more zombies on fire again, and then detonating them en masse. Keep going until you hit 25,000,000 points.

In practice, I found that this system felt very cumbersome and tedious, and really kept me out of the game in the sense that I was constantly trying to farm power-ups and then re-farm them if I died, instead of going to that reflexive flow state that something like Geometry Wars or Smash TV can bring me to. Add in the frustration of the unconventionally ineffective controls and a real difficulty in being able to visually locate power-ups or navigate with precision thanks to the extremely cluttered playfields, and the end result is something that seems like it should be a lot more fun than it actually is.

Still a zombie fan, but not a fan of Burn, Zombie, Burn!

Nice try, but Bruce Campbell, you ain't

Find more on the Drinking Coffeecola blog.

Category Tags
Platform(s): PS3  
Developer(s): Doublesix  

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No great, but fun can be had.

I'm not going to argue any of Brad's points, simply because I feel like its a justifiable account of the game. I imagine I'll never ever see the gold medal on any of the stages, which does suck. Especially if the gold medals are what you must achieve to unlock some of the unlockables. Seriously the points needed to unlock the gold medals seems like they were made for a maschocist. Or, maybe I'm just not very good at it.

So, yeah I did have fun with the game. I'm not going to lie and say it isn't a blast running around using a chainsaw and lawn mower on the zombies. Getting them all in a big pile and unloading some TNT on them can be a blast too, pun intended.

Its just you'll have to work at it to get to the upper level of points and well, thats not what a game should be. I shouldn't have to work to achieve these goals. A game like this is meant to be a big old kill fest. Not so much here, becuase as Brad put it, the system can just be a big old pain. So, I say play it if you just want to run around setting zombies on fire and shooting them. I wouldn't play it if your sole purpose in games in to achieve something or other. I think it might drive you mad if you did.

Response to Brad Gallaway

You sir, are an idiot.

I’m tempted to leave it at that, but I’ll do you the courtesy of explaining why I’ve come to this conclusion;

You don’t seem to understand that this is an arcade game: the game is based on score, as are all arcade games. The only way to “get into the absurdly high upper tiers” is to perform consistently and well. Like 99.9% of all games (and possibly 100% of all arcade games) persistence and skill are required to excel in the game.

The controller input does not follow any ‘standard twin-stick formula’ because it would not be effective in this game. Consider this, for a moment: Burn, Zombie Burn! is not Geometry Wars.
Considering this, and being familiar with the game, you should be able to understand how suitable and appropriate the controls are. I hope that this has cast light on the “mysterious” decision by doublesix to “avoid” the aforementioned formula. Again, it’s because this game is not Geometry Wars.

Also, shooting the way you’re facing is only useless until you start strafing, and auto-aiming is only difficult unless you adjust it with the right-stick.

You aim at a target “in a crowd” and are then frustrated if you can’t hit your target (note the crowd).

You proclaim that TNT is “worthless”, but go on to explain that it’s “vital” to succeed in the game.

All things considered, this is a fun and rewarding arcade gaming experience. It has a lot of depth to it, considering that it’s an arcade game based around achieving a high score.
It’s not a zombie version of Geometry Wars, thankfully.

>>You sir, are an idiot.And

>>You sir, are an idiot.

And you could use some manners.

>>You don’t seem to understand that this is an arcade game.

There’s no confusion here, I simply don’t care for the gameplay.

>>The controller input does not follow any ‘standard twin-stick formula’ because it would not be effective in this game.

And pray tell, in exactly what way would being able to shoot in the direction you aim be *NOT* effective? You fail to make the case.

>>Also, shooting the way you’re facing is only useless until you start strafing, and auto-aiming is only difficult unless you adjust it with the right-stick.

Strafing to move the character… in order to get him to aim where you want him to shoot. Auto-aim and then adjust it… to get the character to aim where you want him to shoot. These two workarounds are better than directly aiming, how exactly?

>>You aim at a target “in a crowd” and are then frustrated if you can’t hit your target (note the crowd).

I’d be able to hit it if the aiming mechanic was better.

>>You proclaim that TNT is “worthless”, but go on to explain that it’s “vital” to succeed in the game.

Did you not read what I wrote? TNT is worthless until it’s upgraded, hence my complaints about farming upgrades in order to make it effective.

If you like the game, then more power to you. I have no problem with people who disagree. If you’re going to call me an idiot, then at least make some points that are valid. At the moment, all you’re doing is coming off like someone who can’t deal with a contrary opinion.


By no means is this the best game ever. By no means does it contain no flaws or faults but to me it seems it has had some unfair critisisms based on its mechanics.

Critism A) You cannot aim. You cannot hit what you want. Why isnt it a two stick shooter.

Answer A) It is. Its just not the same two stick shooter everyone is used to.

As stated - no auto-aim = shoot straight ahead. This is crucial for using the flame as it burns those ahead of you.

Auto-Aim on = picks the closes target. This is fine. It does what it says and does it without problem. You no longer shoot off bullets watching as they miss the single tiny (but crucial) target you were aiming at because the game doesnt let you 'lock on'.

Lastly the Auto-Aim with right controller directs the auto aim. On top of this it doesnt direct it to the closest creature in the general area. It picks THE CLOSEST CREATURE in that exact line you are aiming. If the creature is too far away or there are none in that line it will move to the next closest creature too the line in range. This works wonders for me. I can pick out the exploding guys at will as if you aim directly at it it will pick it out of a tight group as long as no zombie is blocking it. Also if you keep auto-aiming with the stick it pretty much is a two stick control system.

Critism B) You need to blow things up in large groups to get large scores after you set them on fire.

Answer B) This is a falacy. The score of one kill is based upon how many zombies are on fire at the time. You dont have to kill the zombies on fire (even though often it is far more benificial to do it). If you kill 10 zombies at once while you have 20 zombies on fire it is the same as killing 10 zombies singularly while 20 are on fire. There is no bonus for mass explosions. I find easiest way to rack up big points is using the bat to slog them in small groups while huge amounts of zombies chase you on fire.

So please stop bashing to game for those criticisms. People dont take the time to sort out the controls and then bag it when it doesnt do what they want it to do.

Saying that my one major criticism is the Save Daisy mode. This may be because I cannot achieve the same results on this mode but the zombies are far to varied in thier behaviours and dont seem to follow consistant rules. As well as that Ally health packs seem to drop so rarely you are only playing for a short amount of time no matter what.

I personally think that Burn Zombie Burn is a very interesting, and challenging game. Scoring is well balanced in its simplicity and the silver and gold medals are pretty good indicators of skill - they are set to the right levels.

The level unlocks is a pain in the ..... but its not too difficult to overcome.

Oh however I do agree with comments I hear that Red Buttons are often useless. I agree they could use a boost.

All up though it is an endlessly fun and dynamic game. It is well worth the small cost and lasts a far longer time than most other PSN games. Easily worth the money.

The complaints

As has been said, if one holds down the autoaim throughout the game, it plays very similarly to Geometry Wars (With regards to the controls).
I do disagree with most peoples opinion of the game, my brother-in-law and I both love it. We have all silvers now and around 1/3 gold. But it is impossible to achieve these scores without mastering the system. Some people won't like this system, but you are virtually guaranteed to not like the game if you don't learn it.
Once again, you get a multiplier for every zombie on fire at the time of the kill. Straight forward enough.

Each weapon you kill a zombie with achieves a different 'base score.' The pistol is 10 points/kill, the cricket bat is 75 I believe. Bombs are 100. This is ONE of the ways bombs help you score high.

The other (HUGE) way bombs help you score high is by chaining them together. If multiple bombs are within each others blast radius, they will set each other off and apply what appears to be a multiplier ON TOP of the score. [# of chained bombs *(100pts * # of zombies killed * # of zombies on fire)]. In this way, a chain of 3-5 bombs with ~x70 multiplier for fire can yield 300-500k. You will certainly get most of your bombs back if this kills 30 or more zombies.

Just want to make sure everybody has a chance to enjoy getting these high scores.

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