OMG-Z Review—ZOMG!!!

00_title-14-6-2011

I am now seeing in black and white. For the past week, I’ve been playing two Minis that employ monochromatic style with their visuals, namely Monochrome Racing and Laughing Jackal’s OMG-Z. But, color schemes aside, the two games are vastly different from one another; the former is a combat racing game, and the latter is a chain-reaction zombie game.

OMG-Z reverses the formula of the Infectonator series, an extremely popular zombie chain reaction Flash-based browser game. Your objective in Infectonator is to spread a zombifying virus, upgrade it accordingly and spread it once again.  In OMG-Z, you shoot zombies with your limited ammunition, and it will set off a chain reaction, bursting zombies all over the place. Sounds easy? Yes, it plays easy, but it’s definitely more than that.

The story: the city of Redfield is being overrun with the undead, and you are the only one in your team surviving. With a few bullets in your hand, you must survive to the end. I know, I made a bad attempt at introducing the story of the game, but the truth is, the story is the least important part of this game.

01_On_the_streets

As already mentioned, the game uses a monochromatic scheme, which is not bad. The screenshots may not look very inspired, but the in-game graphics are actually noteworthy. Indeed, stylized graphics are needed with these kinds of games. In fact, the Infectonator series employs pixelated graphics. The soundtrack is also rightfully fitting for this game. The guitar riffs and lively drum beats, surprisingly, are not annoying even after having invested several hours into the game. The opening theme (the music that plays on the main menu) is amazing. I wish Laughing Jackal would release it on iTunes.

The core gameplay of OMG-Z revolves around wisely choosing and shooting a zombie. An exploding zombie causes splash damage around him (or her; I am not actually sure, but it seems like the zombies are all male). This triggers a multitude of exploding zombies all over the place. It doesn’t end there; sometimes you have to make use of flaming barrels to cover a much wider radius.

There are also different kinds of zombies. Only the “basic” and the bloated zombie follow the mentioned contagious explosion formula. There are also zombie cops and riflemen. The cops are the most difficult zombies to make a mess with. Killing a cop zombie causes him drop his gun, which then fires a bullet in the direction in which he is facing during his death. A zombie cop’s bullet, though, can pass through undead flesh. The riflemen are my favourites. They are almost the same as the zombie cops, but they fire multiple bullets in random directions which ricochet upon contact. The final type of zombie is the billious model; they melt into acidic pools that severely damage zombies walking through them.

The controls are as follows: X for shooting, D-pad or analog nub for moving your crosshair across the screen. The right shoulder button shows the different zombie types in their assigned colors while the left shoulder button displays the life bars of all the zombies, both of which are very useful in very crowded situations.

Your performance in each level is rated with a Bronze-Silver-Gold ranking. Platinum is the highest honor you can get. It is only awarded to you if you manage to clear out the entire level from zombies. Platinum is difficult to achieve in the early stages, but it gets easy with the upgrades as you progress deep into the game.

The learning curve in this Mini is pretty much nonexistent. That doesn’t mean the game is too easy. Laughing Jackal balanced OMG-Z such that the entire gaming experience is incredibly enjoyable, whether you are just starting or you are a level away from winning Platinum trophies on all levels.

One of the highlights of this Mini is the upgrade system. The rankings that you achieve net you some cash to use in upgrading the zombies. You can upgrade the zombies according to their unique characteristics as well as their quantity. You can also upgrade your ammo, its quantity and your reloading speed. Barrels can also be upgraded. This makes OMG-Z thoroughly entertaining; you have to wisely spend your money on what upgrades seem useful in which situations.

08_Helicopter_down

OMG-Z has multiple endings, and to get them, there’s a branching level system. Some levels need to be unlocked by getting at least a Gold ranking in the level that precedes them. This is the most difficult path to take. You can always opt to follow the easier routes to beef up the zombies first and then come back to improve your rank and unlock the harder routes later.

OMG-Z is a highly addictive game. It’s a perfect pick-up-and-play game and also a recommendable game in which to lose yourself for hours and hours. Luck plays a large part in your success in this game, but patience and prudence are taken into account, too. The game could have included a more robust achievement system, like that which Infectonator has, and its unlockables could be better. Still, in a vacuum, it’s an exemplary game. Even if you are sick and mad with the horde of zombie games already, OMG-Z’s brilliance will lighten your stance.

9.5/10

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Comments

8 Responses to “OMG-Z Review—ZOMG!!!”
  1. onmode-ky says:

    I think it’s worth noting that you only get the cash from achieving a rank on a stage the first time you reach that rank on that stage, so you can’t “grind” for money. Thus, much like with the actual low-ammo gameplay itself, there is some satisfaction to be derived from the upgrade system by figuring out just how to make do with what little you have.

  2. evanac says:

    That’s a great review – thanks so much Jasper, really pleased you enjoyed it!

    onmonde-ky, you make a very valid (and key) point. We didn’t want any XP farming in the game, so this decision was made very early on.

  3. ChaosRandom says:

    The town is named Redfield. Remember Chris Redfield?

  4. confuletlyf says:

    Love the sounds of this upgrade system, and the branching level paths sound interesting. Anyone know where to find a screenshot of the level selections? I know you’ve already posted several pics of the upgrades in the upcoming section, but would be nice if these were included here since it sounds like a pair of core game mechanic.

  5. onmode-ky says:

    The branching is very simple: each node in the tree has 3 branches, with 2 of those branches shared per each adjacent node, such that each successive level in the tree has 2 more nodes than its predecessor. The tree’s root has only 1 node, and the tree has a depth of 9, so there are 1 + 2(9 – 1) = 17 leaves. The total number of nodes is then (1 + 17) * 9 / 2 = 81 total stages in the game. The 17 leaves are grouped into the game’s 3 endings.

    Every branch off a stage is locked until you kill enough of the zombies in that stage. Kill enough to earn a Bronze rank, and the uppermost branch off that stage is unlocked (the tree is drawn branching from left to right). Earn a Silver, and the middle branch is unlocked. The lowest branch unlocks if you kill enough to earn a Gold rank. Thus, the uppermost leaves in the tree are the easiest ending to achieve in the game, while the lowest leaves give you the hardest (and best) game ending to achieve.

    Replaying a stage is thus encouraged in 2 ways: improving your rank gets you cash for upgrades, and improving your rank also unlocks more branches. Technically, there are 2 more reasons to replay a stage: you get to watch your new upgrades in action, and, well, watching the mayhem is just fun. It’s sort of like watching a Rube Goldberg machine.

  6. volcane says:

    This is one of the all out best Minis IMHO :-) Well deserved of the 9.5/10 review!

  7. thumbbandit says:

    Ace Armstrong is in the window of the comic shop… second image down (first if you don’t count the title screen image). ;)

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