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Atom Zombie Smasher

It's the only way to be sure.

You weren't there, man. I had to leave them. There wasn't enough time for a rescue. I couldn't risk it. I'm sorry, but tough choices need to be made, sacrifices need to be sacrificed.

You weren't there, man. Just because they weren't all rotting and moaning doesn't mean they weren't walking dead waiting to happen. If I hadn't dropped a megaton or two of explosive force on their heads, they'd have been food for the zeds anyway. I did them a favour.

You weren't there, man. Sure, there were a few hundred bleating mouthbreathers expecting a pickup as a few thousand undead charged into the square. But there was a scientist who needed rescuing. Scientists are how we're going to win this war, with their research into bigger explosives and such.

Hang on, why am I trying to justify myself to you? None of this even matters, because I lost the war. We're all zombie chow. Well done, shuffle on, and all that.

Atom Zombie Smasher isn't a game you can win. It's a game you attempt to lose in the most graceful and stubborn way possible. It revolves around the last ditch attempt of a military force to stop a zombie apocalypse in an overpopulated urban environment.

You know, the kind of overpopulated urban environment that has an excess of bodies and a lack of brains. Not that the zombies seem to mind, but then they never were fussy eaters.

I prefer to think of the civilians like little gold coins. Makes me want to save them more.

But this isn't just another zombie game, because it's not really about the zombies. It's more about organising and executing an evacuation when you already know you're not going to get everyone out.

The game involves establishing your helicopter pickup point and trying to manage things so the zombies don't get there before you've managed to evacuate the majority of those pathetic civilians. There are no last stands here. The only rising up to be done is not against the undead hordes, but as one of them.

The whole game is played from a top down perspective. You get an overview of a large, square chunk of city blocks. Civilians are little gold blocks, scientists are little blue ones and the zombies are bright pink. Bright, angry, hot, undead pink.

Each level is randomised and the arrangement of buildings creates pathways and obstacles. The ideal situation is a maze-like warren the zombies must navigate to get to you, while civilians have multiple options to get to the evacuation point.

Red buildings are ruptured gas lines. I've lost many good men to their explosions. Mostly explosions I caused.

After playing through many, many campaigns, I've never had that ideal situation crop up. At least, not naturally. But fortunately you can rig the deck a little.

The aces in your militarised hand come in two flavours. First you've got your directly offensive units - snipers, artillery and infantry. The first two get set up during deployment. They remain fixed in that position for the duration of the game but are able to change the direction in which they're firing.

Infantry are deployed on the ground. They're able to move around to take down the infected, but their more direct power is offset by a much shorter range and the requirement to move themselves to a new location.

The other type of unit has a less direct impact on the field. Barricades block off roads and junctions to the pink masses, enabling you to funnel them into tight killzones where you can drop explosives on their heads or mow them down with artillery.

Mines and dynamite are a little more instant in their effects. The former blow up when a zombie gets close and the latter is triggered manually. Except all the dynamite goes off at once, so it's better to put your sticks close together to maximise their impact. Oh, and there's zombie bait. Handy for baiting zombies.

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About the Author
Phill Cameron avatar

Phill Cameron


Phill is a freelance writer who has consistently cashed in on the fact that he knows what an INI file is, or how to use the WASD keys without bumping into walls. He now plays far too much Dota. So it goes. You can find him on Twitter.

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