Are you a fan of the Zombieland films? Stupid question really, of course you are. Well, now you can be in the same world (sort of) as your favourite zombie ass-kickers and dish out some double taps yourself! Zombieland: Headshot Fever is an arcade-style shooter developed by XR Games, the studio behind Angry Birds 2 VR.
So, is this the Zombieland game we’ve all been waiting for? Not quite, but it’s still good fun…
You play the “new guy”, whose hands you choose to see in front of you. Having been found by the characters of the movies, you’re taken under their wing in order to train for the upcoming competition, the Zombie Invitational. Of course, if you’ve seen the movies then you’ll know they aren’t the most trusting bunch of people, nor the most sympathetic. As such, they have you proving yourself worthy to be part of the gang by sending you into dangerous courses to challenge yourself in preparation for the event.
The cast isn’t voiced by the original actors, apart from Abigail Breslin who reprises her role as Little Rock, but Woody Harrelson’s brother takes over his role as Tallahassee and sounds incredibly similar to his more famous sibling (similar to how Tom Hank’s brother voices his video game counterparts). It doesn’t really detract from the game itself too much, it just gives it a slightly more ‘B-movie’ feeling. Thankfully, it’s still got the same witty style to the dialogue, making it similar to the script from the movies.
The bigger issue for me though, in terms of the feeling of the game, are the visuals. They’re… a bit lacking. It’s colourful but a bit tacky, with the lipsyncing also not correctly synced up to the voices as the characters speak. Having played some really good-looking VR games recently, Zombieland: Headshot Fever definitely looks like a 90s light-gun shooter as well as plays like one.
Zombieland: Headshot Fever is clearly inspired heavily by light-gun shooters such as Time Crisis and The House of the Dead. The game plays as an on-rails shooter with enemies running towards you while you try to blast them away before they reach you. There is no free movement in the game – instead, you simply glance at the next teleportation point, once you’ve cleared the area, and you’ll smoothly transition to the new location. This makes the game flow seamlessly while also allowing even the most inexperienced VR players to be able to play comfortably, since teleportation limits motion sickness possibilities.
The mechanic to move forward by glancing towards the teleportation is quick and helps you get through the stage faster, but it does bring about a bit of a nuisance problem. Since the “hitbox” to the teleport location is so big, sometimes you move forward when you don’t want to. I’ll get to the reason why you wouldn’t want to in a minute…
The main aim of Zombieland: Headshot Fever is to complete courses quickly and get as many headshots as possible, as hinted to by the game’s title. Essentially, getting headshots (or double taps, a reference to a rule in the movie) triggers a slow-down period known as ‘adrenaline’, potentially allowing you to chain together more headshots and continuously decrease the clock speed. If done efficiently, you’ll be able to finish the round with a much lower overall time, without actually finishing the round any faster in real-time.
You can also trigger adrenaline with your alternate special weapon. You have a pistol as your standard weapon but you can choose from a few unlockable weapons such as shotguns and submachine guns, for your left hand. These have limited ammo but every kill with them enables slow-down, even if it’s not a headshot, helping you to chain your kills together and get that time down as much as possible.
Being able dual wield feels pretty badass, but it’s also much more difficult. It’s absolutely necessary to use both guns to get better times but the reload function can be a little fussy sometimes. To reload, you flick the right controller stick down to eject the clip and then effectively catch a new clip in the air. It sounds awesome, and most of the time it is, but whether you’re standing or sitting, it sometimes just doesn’t work and results in having to try multiple times.
Overall though, it feels awesome dual-wielding and bringing out our own Tallahassee impression with his sawn-off shotgun.
Progressing through Zombieland: Headshot Fever doesn’t take too long as there are only a few stages, each around a minute or so long. They get progressively more difficult until you play the Zombie Invitational, which is the ultimate test of your reactions and head-popping skills. The increase in difficulty doesn’t just come from more zombies though, it also comes from the variations of zombies. There are giant zombies, speedy zombies, sports fan zombies that rile up the others, and zombies that throw things, making it a challenge to prioritise where to shoot first. I’m glad there’s some variety as it would get boring quickly if all the zombies behaved the same – the movies are known for weirder zombies, so it fits in the world brilliantly.
Although the stages may not take long to complete, each one has 4 optional missions, giving you an incentive to replay them since some are quite tricky – especially missions for not missing a shot. This is where the teleportation problem comes in. In some stages, there is a mission to shoot a hidden object – but, you don’t tend to get time to actually look for it because you end up teleport through the levels accidentally as you look around. A word to the wise: use adrenaline time to look for the objects because they’re not always easy to spot.
Each time you play a stage, you will earn the in-game currency ‘TP’, which is toilet paper. As we all know by now, when a pandemic hits this stuff is hard to come by! Earning TP allows you to spend it on upgrades for your weapons, boosting firepower and ammo capacity. This is absolutely necessary for your push for faster times since at the start, zombies will take more shots to down and you’ll spend more time reloading. Just like the arcade games that it’s inspired by, this encourages lots of replays to build those upgrades up. Doing all the upgrades unlocks a Quest achievement and gives you some satisfaction by allowing you to speed up your runs, so it’s definitely worth doing if you enjoy the game.
Zombieland: Headshot Fever is just simple and chaotic Virtual Reality fun. The characters are as witty and miserable as they are in the films, with my favourite line being “it’s as hot as two rats fucking inside a sock”. The shooting is really fun and the desire to do better and improve those high scores is very addictive, especially when you factor in the world leaderboard too. Don’t expect a game as complex or engaging as The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, it’s much simpler and just really an old-school arcade shooter with some comedy. Honestly, if this game were in the arcades, I’d be putting in a lot of coins, so it must be doing something right.