The Living Dead
A bad game? No! The graphics aren't bad, the gameplay is kinda boring, but isn't bad, and the zombies are actually freaky. Might be due to the fact that they make you panic when you have fourty of them pouring into a room.
Few people yet know of the new ZZTer, Commodore, but already he is making a name of himself in the community. I feel it's my duty to acknowledge the few newbies who I believe have the potential to make great games, and highlight their skills and weaknesses before it's too late and they give up, and fade away.
Commodore isn't someone the community wants to be fading away too soon. Let me get this straight though, The Living Dead is not a great game in itself, but it's the prospect of future games and the skills it showcases that make it worthwhile. It was made under the company name of 'Mirror Image Games', which is basically a partnership between Commodore and a fellow newbie Snika. While it remains to see if Snika can achieve this level of quality on his games, Commodore certainly has jumped the first hurdle.
On to the game then. In living dead you play a man called John Williams, who goes to answer a cry for help after being attacked by a zombie in his car. The game continues from there, and levels of stupidity get higher as the plot continues. It's not BAD stupidity, it's b-movie stupidity and in the majority of places, it feels right. The scene in the house is great, and the scene in the shed was actually rather brilliant, the sound effects and graphics really came together for the first (and only) time.
Graphics wise, the game varies in skill from the rather primitive shading of the interiors to the pretty object drawn stain glass windows of a church. There's a lot of a path and a lot of trees that seem to look like a scene from SPRG after a while. The sound is also eclectic, ranging from the awful title screen music to the creepy music in the shed, it's not a good idea to keep it on all the time.
Gameplay wise, there isn't really much here, unfortunatly. Long walking scenes serve to extend the playing time, but battles for the most part use ZZT's shooting engine and offer nothing new or exciting, and only just keep you away from plot long enough to keep going. Bosses are annoying but bareable, and have the appopriate attacks. The talking scenes are more fun, with the dialouge as cheesy as the plot itself and the game moving at a nice pace. While Commodore lists Romero as an influence, I feel it plays more like 'Evil Dead' than 'Night of the Living Dead. It didn't have such a huge scale as the latter, and the more blunt comedy was also evident.
The only two things to really complain about was the way you swapped characters without being told, which confused me a little to begin with, and the way the people followed behind you. In a normal RPG, a char will just #die and a flag will be set they are in the party, but in TLD your partner follows you around, making for buggy walking and annoying times when they get stuck. There's no real reason for it, and it ruins the flow of the game to shoot your partner and have him re-appear on the next board. It's not enough to stop playing, but it is enough to annoy very quickly.
In summary, Commodore is destined to go far once he Hones his skils a little. I see in him a young Madtom, and like Madtom, his skills are improving very rapidly, but he still has a long way to go from his rather horrible 'Ghostbusters Demo' to making a renowned game like Burgular. However, I don't wish to hype him as the NEXT anybody, and his future in the community is what he makes it. I wish him the best of luck and hope he continues to improve and make more ZZT games.