Publisher Gamebridge's GO Series of DSiWare games seems to have faded out with 2012's release of GO Series: Undead Storm, but that doesn't mean the properties are completely gone. In a move that no one expected developer G-STYLE has released a sequel to the aforementioned property on the 3DS eShop titled Undead Storm Nightmare. While we all know that sequels can be a resounding success or an unmitigated disaster, we're pleased to report that this one holds up to the standards of the original.
Just when you thought he zombie craze was played out and over used, it turns out that you were correct! Thankfully, Undead Storm Nightmare is polite enough to bypass any niceties that insist it provide a deep plot that humanizes the monsters and instead opts for "here are zombies, please get rid of them." The plot doesn't need to go much deeper than that as this game is quite simply about surviving a zombie apocalypse by blasting your way through hordes of the undead. It's pure shooting action at its finest, and it's a whole lot of fun.
Despite retaining the same gameplay as the original, the setup in Undead Storm Nightmare is completely different. Almost identical to the influential Left 4 Dead, the first Undead Storm featured several different three-stage campaigns that could be played through on multiple difficulty settings. Nightmare, on the other hand, opts for a Mission-based approach and a stronger focus on the single player - multiplayer is still present, but it is no longer the shining jewel in the Corpse-filled crown. Both games are clearly based off of the architecture of Left 4 Dead, but Nightmare represents a step forward for the series, bringing out its own unique identity.
As you play through missions you will also be collecting plenty of Survival Coins and other items that can then be used to unlock new missions or purchase weapons and upgrades for the armaments that you already possess. It makes sense to upgrade weapons with collected supplies and currency, but unlocking stages this way slows down the pace of the campaign. Having to revisit the same maps to progress isn't ideal, but the missions are plenty of fun to play even after seeing them through more than once. Upgrading your artillery and purchasing new weapons also changes the dynamic of gameplay, making the campaign feel consistently fresh.
Multiplayer is still available, but there's much less of an emphasis on it this time around. In multiplayer mode gameplay remains entirely unchanged from the single player missions, with the exception of having up to four local pals come along for the ride. The unfortunate news is that there is no online option, and download play is not supported with this title, meaning that each local player must have a copy of Undead Strom Nightmare downloaded to his or her 3DS in order to join in. If you can manage to get a cohort of players together in the same room, it's easy to say that the experienced is heightened, adding more attacking enemies to the already frantic stages.
The control system is simple and works well, but it can be a bit disorienting when starting out. Undead Storm Nightmare is essentially a twin-stick shooter, but it's limited to using only the 3DS's Circle Pad for movement. Without a second stick available, and not supporting use of the Circle Pad Pro, rotating your character is left up to the L and R shoulder buttons. If this sounds inconvenient, that's because it is when first starting out. When you run headlong into a hoard of zombies and suddenly realize that you're spinning and firing in the wrong direction, it can be more than a little frustrating. This is more of a minor irritation than a major complaint though, as the controls quickly become second nature after playing through a stage or two. Other actions, such as attacking and using health items, are linked to the console's lettered buttons while switching between weapons is performed with a tap of the touchscreen. Beyond rotation, it's all very straightforward and simple enough to work well in the later missions when quick reflexes are a necessity.
One of the bigger complaints that we had with the previous Undead Storm game was the muddy visuals. Things still aren't perfect, with repeated, bland textures and character models that don't change from stage to stage, but we are happy to report that everything looks much crisper this time around. The character models have more detail, making it very easy to differentiate between your character and zombies or an ally during a multiplayer mission; we never experienced any slowdown in frame rate even when the screen was flooded with baddies. It's too bad that the console's titular 3D effect wasn't put to any use whatsoever, but if that's the price to pay for clear visuals that are always up to speed, we're willing to pay it.
The fact is that the zombie fad started dying out years ago and it's one that really needs to be let go, but that doesn't mean worthwhile products are no longer coming out of the trend. A prime example of this phenomenon is Undead Storm Nightmare, a game that takes an overused trope and shifts the focus away from the undead and back onto enjoyable gameplay. It's not a perfect game, especially when considering the need to revisit missions over and over to earn in-game currency, and the potential frustration that the controls may cause, but it's a good time nonetheless. Whether you want to play solo or with a friend, this game is a must-have for anyone looking for a bit of mindless fun while bashing brainless hordes.