Undead Knights will slay you with its over-the-top zombie action.
We can't go a couple of hours without running into something zombie related. There are movies, TV shows, comic books and video games, including the upcoming Left 4 Dead 2. But when was the last time zombies actually served a purpose, instead of running around and snacking on brains? Well, good news. You can now use these creatures to your advantage in Tecmo's Undead Knights, which adds a fresh change of pace to an otherwise above-average slice-and-dice game.
In the game, you choose between three mighty warriors. These folks were once in the employ of King Gradis, helping keep peace in the kingdom of Cavalier. However, when they try to inform the king that his young, beautiful queen is up to no good (she's dabbling in witchery), he orders them killed. A mysterious force known only as "The Beast" resurrects and gives them the power to convert and control the undead. This comes in handy as you set out on your plan for revenge, both against the wicked queen and the king who turned against you.
As you make your way through the game, you'll run into several members of the King's army, both large (huge behemoths with an axe to grind) and small (mid-level grunts with swords). You can easily hack away until they're nothing but piles of bloody flesh, but recruitment is a vital part of success. By grabbing soldiers and waiting a few seconds (sometimes longer, depending on their strength), they transform into zombies, who in turn do your bidding. You can hurl them around like Frisbees (which you'll need to do against bigger enemies), order them to attack enemy structures or use them to form bridges to new areas. The ordering tactic adds a tremendous amount of strategy to the game, even though the hack-and-slashing is fun by itself. It gets a little stale after a while, however, on the same level as Koei's Dynasty Warriors games.
The single-player campaign comes with numerous characters, achievements, power-ups and difficulty settings (good luck with Hell), and Undead Knights also has impressive multiplayer options. You can take on a straightforward Survival mode, race against others in a free-for-all battle or take turns hurling zombies at one another. Think of it as dodgeball, but with zombies subbing for the balls. All of these are good fun, even though you'll need to find another player with a copy of the game.
Undead Knights' music is a huge draw. Rather than going with lame medieval themes, Tecmo packed the game with plenty of hard rock tunes. This keeps the raw energy of the game going strong, along with zombie moans and panicked soldier voices.
The same can't be said for the graphics, though. While there's plenty of carnage to go around (the area gets covered with blood so quickly, it's ridiculous), the environments look the same. You'll run through the same old forest areas, up until midway through the game, where things get interesting; we could've used more varied stage design over the course of the adventure. At least the animation is sweet, especially the zombies. They stumble around mindlessly, while your soldier stands tall.
If you're looking for a good zombie fix this Halloween, Undead Knights should be on the top of your list. The addictive zombie-commanding action, multiplayer options and blood-soaked presentation will make you want to join this legion.
What's Hot: Features a combination of zombie management and hack-and-slash action, lots of blood and gore, achievements and upgrades, enjoyable multiplayer (especially zombie tossing), hard-rock soundtrack.
What's Not: The environments aren't anything spectacular, gameplay stays the same.