Published on February 13th, 2013 | by Travis Fahs1
Mockbusters are nothing new to the world of Android. Companies like Gameloft have been ripping off hits of the day since before the G1 was a glimmer in HTC’s eye. Sometimes these imitators are even good, offering up a “next best thing” on a platform that needs it. But PlagueZ is not the good sort of clone, my friends. In fact, it would be generous to even call it a game.
PlagueZ is not the first game to knock-off the wildly popular ARMA II mod DayZ. Just two months ago, The War Z garnered controversy for it’s shockingly underbaked gameplay, with many hailing it as the worst game of the year. But for all its ineptitude, The War Z was a functioning game, and compared to PlagueZ, it was a masterpiece.
Upon launching PlagueZ, it’s easy to be optimistic. You’ll see a large, outdoor map with hilly terrain that extends as far as the eye can see. Although muddy and dull, the graphics are decent enough, and the controls are intuitive, if basic and sometimes unresponsive. But the more you explore, the more apparent it becomes that there just isn’t much there.
Oh, there are zombies, don’t worry. They’re standing, frozen in the map, waiting for you to get close enough to activate them, at which point they will walk toward you in a straight line. Zombie AI doesn’t have to be elaborate, but these guys make 8-bit enemies seem complex. The walking dead aren’t very powerful, but their swipes seem to magically damage you from up to 15 feet away and through walls somehow, making it easy to get ambushed and wonder where it’s coming from.
If you roam around a bit, you can find a few different weapons, and maybe even stay alive for a few minutes, but before long, you’ll wonder what the point is. Despite first impressions, the map isn’t especially big, and trekking for a minute in any direction will lead you to the ocean. Feel free to walk out onto the water like Jesus until you hit the invisible wall that is the level boundary. After playing for 10 minutes or so, you will have seen everything there is. That’s it. There’s no multiplayer, no leaderboards, and only a small island to explore. Just walk around, shoot a few walkers until you get tired of living or you run out of ammo.
What is so frustrating about PlagueZ is that it isn’t the result of incompetence. In fact, the engine is actually pretty impressive for an indie FPS. The problem is that Ammonite didn’t want to make a game. They wanted to make something that looked like a game – and someone else’s game, at that. PlagueZ isn’t just a half-assed game, it’s a potemkin village; a plausible facade designed to trick those into browsing the Play Store into believing there is much more to be found. Although it might meet the barest definitions of a game, it’s purpose is not to entertain gamers, but to defraud them. Someday, someone is sure to do this concept justice, but don’t hold out hope that you’ll find it here.
Is it hardcore?
Summary: PlagueZ offers the barest minimum of the survival FPS experience, with none of the fun or strategy of the game it hopes to imitate. It is Ugly, awkward, and woefully incomplete.