Burn, Zombie, Burn!

Feel the Burn

Burn, Zombie, Burn! mixes humor with a little good ol' fashioned zombie slayin'.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 6, 2009
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Kuju Entertainment has been on a roll as of late -- or perhaps more accurately, their re-named studios have. Zoe Mode (the folks that helped out on some of the EyeToy and SingStar games) went on to create the brilliant Crush, Headstrong just finished up House of the Dead: Overkill for the Wii and along comes doublesix with Burn, Zombie, Burn!, their first self-published game hitting, surprisingly, exclusively on the PSN (at least for now).

The game's setup is deceptively simple: you're Bruce (yes, that's a rather obvious reference to Bruce Campbell of the Evil Dead flicks, if the constant Ash quips in the game weren’t enough of a dead giveaway) and you kill zombies. You can gun down, saw apart, mow, blow up, or bludgeon them beyond undeath, yes, but the real key (and the tie to the game's moniker) is setting the little brain-craving buggers on fire.

See, lighting a zombie on fire does two things: it adds one tick to your score multiplier for every one you immolate, and... well, let's just say it gets them over the fear of being on fire. Burning zombies will make a bee line for you, happily engulfing their neighbors (or anything else that's flammable like fences, for that matter) until there's a horde of cutely shambling baddies stalking you across the game's half-dozen-plus maps. So long as you kill these zombies before they eventually burn to a crisp, the reward for doing so is limited only by the number of little brain munchers you've got crackling away at any given time.

When you factor in things like giant monsters that fart jets of flame that don't get you points, or exploding zombies that will take out scads of flaming friends unless you actually shoot them first, and suddenly the whole mechanic becomes a lot more complex. This is the strength of what Burn, Zombie, Burn! brings to the PSN; it starts out simple enough, but as the layers are heaped on, it quickly becomes a careful little ballet of gunning down the undead while keeping them lit ablaze.

As mentioned before, you've got a few options for doing so. Uzis, bats, chainsaws and shotguns all drop into a level fairly early on. Survive long enough and you'll see up the upgraded versions of these weapons -- a cricket bat and a chaingun just to name a few. Survive even longer and you'll gain access to a zombie-shredding lawn mower, a flame thrower, a gun that sucks out their brains and then spits them into the open to attrack the moaning masses and even a gun that makes 'em all dance for a while.

Better still, if you can rack up enough kills with a particular weapon, you'll bank one of three red lights. Light up all three and you'll gain access to the level-specific Big Red Button. The Big Red Button isn't just a blanket tool of destruction, though. In some cases, it's actually a defensive tool more than an offensive one, raining on enemies to put out fires or creating a shaft of holy light to protect you for a few moments. Of course, it can also call in an air strike or activate a laser defense system, so it honestly depends on the level.

This variety is arguably the game's greatest strength. It might seem like each of the levels just swaps around bits of cover and weapons (which you can find by simply clicking in the left analog stick, a very handy little addition), but the truth is that each level requires its own strategies. Just because you can pick up that flame thrower, that doesn't mean it's such a good idea when you're in between waves of zombies -- or maybe it is, as the jet from the thrower ignites enemies in front of Bruce rather than letting him run through them like his default torch.
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