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Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green Review

Developer: BrainBox Games Publisher: Groove Games
Release Date: October 20, 2005 Also On: PC and Xbox

I’ve played (and reviewed) a lot of bad games in my life. From Barbie’s Horse Adventure, to Fuzion Frenzy, to James Bond Jr., these games all have one thing in common: they suck. Land of the Dead doesn’t just suck, it sucks on many levels. There’s definitely a pattern with B-rated no-name movie properties. So while Land of the Dead is a playable affair, it’s not something I’d suggest to just anyone.

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You’ll start on a farm with a figure standing in your yard. Curious as to what he’s doing, you walk outside. To your surprise, he’s not even living. You run into your attic to equip a rifle. Damn, you need to get into the barn. You rush down stairs, followed slowly by creeping zombies. Locked. Enter the basement and return. Get your equipment and start shooting or hacking.

Sounds suspenseful, right? Yeah, it might be if the environment didn’t look as drab as an early-generation Nintendo 64 game. Fogging abound, gunning similar-looking zombies, not to mention how ugly everything is. To the developer’s credit, there are a number of different areas that you’ll cross, but they seem uninhabitable, unless people ordinarily sleep in desks (there are lots of desks in this game). These desks are unintentionally a satire on an intricate part of the game: finding keys!

Now that we see all this game does is run you through levels collecting keys, pushing buttons, and shooting, you may be wondering what incentive there is to playing. The storyline doesn’t help: you’re stuck on a farm, retreat for the city, and hear about a “City of the Living� where you’ll desperately try to escape to. You’ll meet up with a survival or two, including a doctor at the local hospital and a truck driver in a jail cell. You will need to cooperate with the truck driver to make it through some of the parts of the gaming, defending him with a sniper rifle as he advances towards his semi and towards boats.

One of the biggest problems with the game is that there just isn’t enough challenge. You never run out of ammunition – it’s liberally dispersed throughout the levels – and the enemy AI is brain-dead. Sorry, the fact that they’re the “living deadâ€? isn’t a good enough excuse for their inability to notice you standing next to them, walk through doors, or coordinate with each other. They simply roam around, stumbling on you occasionally, but if they don’t see you, they won’t make an effort to attack. You can probably avoid a large percentage of them (I know I did) in most of these levels. You’re not penalized, and there’s no real reward for doing the extra work involved.

The best part I can say in the game is it offers a nice number of weapons. While gameplay variety is virtually non-existent, you can blast the zombies in different ways, including melee weapons such as clubs, bats, bars, sticks, etc. There are also grenades and Molotov cocktails to be tossed. The mounted machine gun in the shooting parlor was pretty fun to shoot the brainless zombies, as was sniping on the roof. It’s still does not come close to saving the game from tragedy.

So let’s get this straight: minimal character variety with maybe a dozen of the same zombies the entire game, abhorrent graphics (don’t get me started on the 2-dimensional cornstalks), a repeating generic soundtrack, hillbilly voice talent, and relatively long load times. They could have at least included more than two zombie-types: walking and crawling. How are they expecting anyone to pay $30 for this? If you’re a diehard George Romero fan, this game might be worth looking into for a weekend rental. For everyone else, it will probably be more fun to eat your friend’s brain.

Graphics: 3
Sound: 2
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 4
Written by Kyle Review Guide