Sunday, July 6, 2014

Zombies Monsters Robots - ZMR Review

   Zombies Monsters Robots (ZMR) is a third-person shooter developed by Yingpei Games and published by En Masse Entertainment for it's North American release. Currently in Open Beta.

   Following the commands of an overenthusiastic commander, you and your elite team of mercenaries fight against various entities for fun and money. As the name implies, you will be fighting various zombies, monsters, and perhaps even a few robots.

   The gameplay is very heavily PvE-based and plays similarly to a game series called Gears of War. You control a character from an over-the-shoulder perspective and can squash against walls and barriers for cover. Once there, you can blindfire from behind the wall at the expense of accuracy. There are also PvP modes if you get tired of shooting AI. More on that later. First...

   Level Design: Pretty Cool
   Maps in both PvP and PvE are visually superb. There are a lot of moving parts and environmental dangers, plus the general atmosphere fits perfectly into whatever the theme of your mission is. Environments aren't destructable, but they are still plenty satisfying.

   Difficulty: Just Right
   Something to keep in mind when doing PvE is that none of the maps so far are meant to be done solo. Bring a few friends or join randoms and you will have a good time. The difficulty isn't so low as to make you bored, but also not so high as to make you quit. The game also heaps revival coins on you, so you can keep retrying as much as you want.

Which may be a little or a lot depending on what you're fighting.
   Bleedout Finishers: Do Them
   If you deplete an enemy mercenary's health with a bodyshot there's a high chance they will be dropped on the ground and proceed to bleed out. From there, you can either just shoot them to finish them off, or run over and do a melee finisher. This will give you more points, and the finisher changes depending on what sidearm you have equipped (pistol, knife, etc).

   Mercs vs. Monsters: Interesting
   This is a recently-added PvP mode where one team plays as a variety of faceless mercenaries and the other plays as a variety of zombie monsters. Killing and dying gives you points used to respawn as a more powerful villain. Between the two sides, there are over 20 forms, making the combat in this mode dynamic and exciting.

Giant mech? Check. Lack of a face? Check.
   The one drawback is that, well, mercs have guns. The monsters can put up a fight if their team is good enough, but the mercs have a pretty clear advantage for most of the game. Luckily, teams are forced to switch sides at half-time.

   Pay-to-Win Status: Positive
   As with most online shooters, cash lets you skip pretty much everything. Many weapons, items, and "Deluxe" utilities can't be bought with gold (in-game currency), but everything is available to you if you're willing to open your wallet. Silver/Gold Bullets can be acquired through missions and used in "Shooting Galleries" for a chance at getting some cash-only goods, but chances are tiny and you're not likely to get what you want for a long time.

   Controls: Shoddy
   There are certain things you just can't do. For instance, you can't crouch unless you're against a wall. You can't dodge roll between cover spots nor can you roll directly into a cover position. Going between cover spots instead makes your character slowly crouch-walk to the other side.
   There's an also an issue with the crosshair. It can be unreliable. There will often be times in which you try to shoot something and hit a guard rail or other objects in front of you instead.

   PvP: Doesn't Work Very Well
   The cover system isn't made for PvP at all. Players with sniper rifles will headshot you even if you're fully behind some cover spots, and you don't have enough health to consider blitzing anything. Movement is very slow and crouching, as I said before, isn't an option. This leads to just spamming the dodge roll to get anywhere, but dodge roll doesn't actually provide any invincibility frames. You're either pushing the enemy's spawn for a decisive win or they're pushing yours for a landslide victory.

Moments before my face takes the first sniper bullet of the match.
   There are also the super weapons. A grenade launcher or something similar it sitting near the middle of every PvP map. The team that has the most map dominance, also known as the winning team, will be most likely to pick it up and start winning harder. This makes recovery very difficult and stops comebacks from ever happening.

   Smaller Issues: Just a Few
   - Assists don't count in any mode. Doesn't exactly promote teamwork.
   - In PvE, dying enacts a nearly two-minute autokick. If you don't get revived by either you, your team, or a checkpoint you are kicked from the room after two minutes. I don't see the point.
         - Edit: The autokick is there to prevent afk-farming, since you can be rewarded based on how long you're in-game.
   - Very slow gain on gold. Most of it will be gained through missions and level-ups, but what happens when those run out?

   Final Score: 3 out of 5

   Though it's a nice game on paper, it's not very good on execution. Pay-to-win mechanics are a massive letdown and ZMR seems to spend a lot of time trying to be something it's not. To the concept of shooting up zombies, monsters, and robots I say "hell yeah!" So why is it trying to dress up as a tactical shooter? The cover system is used very rarely in PvE, especially if you have a full party. The population in the PvP part of the game is such that they could take it out entirely with little blowback. It's obvious what the players want, give it to them!

Bonus screenshot! Why am I aiming at it's head instead of the giant, glowing heart? Because shotgun.
   Extra Things to Know
   - 6 PvP modes at present: TDM, Elimination, King of the Hill, Demolition, Free for All, and MvM
   - You start with a pack of 50 Revival Coins. Check your inventory!
   - Health regenerates. Hide like a sissy until it comes back!
   - Completing missions gives you "Rep" points. These can be used to get a few items unavailable for gold.
   - Turrets can be used in PvE. They're consumable and can only be replenished through cash, events, or missions. Rep can only buy you basic turrets.
   - Revive tokens are given out like candy in missions and in silver/gold bullet galleries, but can't be bought by themselves without cash.
   - Ammo boxes in PvE aren't shared. Try not to pick all of them up yourself.
   - There is a VIP section of the shop for people who pay for those benefits. However, everything in the VIP shop will eventually move into either the normal shops or shooting galleries. So they aren't exclusive forever.


  1. The autokick feature is not there to prevent afk farming. The autokick feature is there to force you to buy back in with revive tokens.

    At first glance the game appears to throw revive tokens at you, until you reach expert level maps where some attacks simply cannot be avoided. You'll go from 0 deaths to 20 in about 4 minutes.

    The higher difficulties are basically bought through with revive tokens, burning through 10-20 of them just to get through a boss, it's no wonder you can buy them with real money.

    1. That was my first thought, too. However, a friend and a few Google'd sources said it was for afk-farmers so that's what I put in the review. I tried a couple of the expert maps before I uninstalled, one survival and one zombie mode (I don't remember the exact names of the modes, and I was too stupid to put them in the review).

      The survival map only seemed possible without dying if you had a full team and knew where to camp, but it was possible. The zombie map started off okay but got insane later on, but I think we still beat it with exceptional teamwork.

      The problem arose when we got to the boss of the zombie map, which I didn't even know existed. Some kind of water leviathan creature. All of it's attacks were either instant-kills or reduced you to 1 hp. Only way to fight it without dying was to predict everything systematically, but some teammates couldn't see the patterns and just died 30+ times anyway.

      You're pretty much right, I'm just pointing out that the higher-difficulty maps CAN be won without spamming tokens. But how many people are going to be able to do that, is the real question.

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