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Zombies, Monsters, Robots, and Guns Oh My!

Previews By William Murphy on April 01, 2014

Zombies, Monsters, Robots, and Guns Oh My!

Zombies. Monsters. Robots. No joke, those are the three things that En Masse Entertainment is counting on having enough geek culture influence to carry its next online game, aptly titled Zombies Monsters Robots.  Developed by Yingpei Games (formerly Epic Games China), ZMR is a cooperative and competitive free to play online third-person shooter which focuses on the insane more than the tactical or realistic. It’s not technically an MMO or really an RPG, so we won’t be adding it to our Game List. But En Masse are good people, so after seeing the promise in ZMR, we thought we’d at least give you a taste of what you can expect from their sophomore release. 

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Technically a sequel to Mercenary Ops, ZMR is being developed using the Unreal 3 Engine, which is something Yingpei and En Masse have a lot of experience with as the engine was used for TERA as well and Yingpei helped out there when the game was being developed. Most F2P shooters on the market focus almost entirely on the competitive aspects, but the goal Yingpei and EME have for ZMR is to make the experience more about the cooperative thrill you get from games like Left 4 Dead. That’s not to say there won’t be PVP modes: capture the flag, team deathmatch, king of the hill and demolition will all be available.  There will also be Patient Zero (where an infected player becomes one of the monsters and spreads his disease) and Mech Match (self-explanatory, right?). But the PVE modes are the big part, and how EME expects most players to spend their time.

The controls are traditional shooter controls, WASD movement, E to interact, F for melee, and G for grenades.  There’s also an active reload, made famous by Gears of War, where if you time a second press of the R reload key just right, you’ll get a temporary boost to damage. Time it badly, and you jam your gun. The only odd thing in ZMR was that spacebar handled sprinting and there was no jump option.  You can dodge with the spacebar, but no vertical jumping… it’s something I really hope EME corrects before the game’s summer release as no jumping in pretty much any game severely limits the freedom of movement.  The environments are interactive, boxes can be exploded, cover can be blown apart, and in the map we played you could board up windows and doors to stave off the onrushing undead. 

The map we played was The Pit, a Kill Every Thing (Horde mode) map where the waves get progressively harder until you make it to the boss, defeat him, or die trying.  Each of the maps tie in loosely to a B-Movie styled narrative, with their own boss fights.  Post launch, there’s even going to be a Dinosaur Island map, thought En Masse is pretty sure they won’t be changing the name to ZMRD when that happens. 

There are a wealth of options for how to customize your character and your weapon loadouts, from different guns to different looks, and even customized patterns on each weapon.  But each character, male or female has the same basic model (muscly man or lithe woman), and the options I saw for hair, clothing, and the like seemed a little uninspired to be honest. If there’s one thing I worry about with ZMR it’s that by opting for a “real” look to its world and surroundings, they’re missing out on what could have been a very cool stylized art look with a name like Zombies Monsters Robots. Instead, ZMR tends to look a lot like every other F2P shooter you’ve ever played, and that can be off-putting.

The gameplay itself is pretty decent, though even in an early stage. Minus the lack of jumping, controls are spot on, sensitivity can be tweaked, and everything’s very responsive (as it needs to be).  But if I were going to play ZMR after launch, aside from letting me hop when I feel the need to, I also hope EME tweaks the run speed of characters. I got the feeling that my legs were moving fast, but my body was somehow floating and having trouble gaining traction.  The result was that I felt slow and cumbersome when the Pit map was all about sticking together and moving from room to room between waves to advance the mission objectives. 

The final boss of the Pit, known as the Executioner, was pretty badass though. He had what reminded me of Whiplash’s electric whips from Iron Man two to fling at us, he called down lightning from the ceiling, and eventually pulled in the spiked walls around us to give us less room to maneuver his deadly attacks. His weakspot was on his back, so we had one player kite him around while we took him down from behind (that didn’t sound right), and minus a few deaths we completed the mission in under half an hour. 

Overall ZMR seems like a promising, fun, pick up and play shooter with persistence in the form of character and gear progression.  But as an MMO gamer, I’d sooner pick up either Defiance or Planetside 2 for my fix.  And as a coop shooter fan, I’d much rather dive into Borderlands 2. But ZMR will be free, and some interesting match types to boot. We’ll see whether En Masse’s second offering will make waves or be lost among the tide this Summer when it launches.

Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.