I absolutely love the idea of killing zombies — as well as assorted mutated bugs and aliens — with music. I’m one of roughly five unfortunate souls who never really got into the music genre, mostly because I’m awful at games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but the few times I did pick up a guitar shaped peripheral I think it would be incredibly kind to say I was passable. You’d think a zombie-themed music game would be just the trick to get someone like me into the genre, and it might’ve been.
I’m barely passable without the looming threat of something monstrous inching my way, so when you throw enemies into the mix I go from amateurish to looking like a total flailing idiot. With that said, if you share my fondness for the idea of mixing zombies and rhythm, head past the jump to read my thoughts on this interesting new game.
The Baby Factor: If Typing of the Dead and Guitar Hero got together to make sweet, musical love; Rock of the Dead would be their brain-munching (and toe-tapping) offspring.
Often the best ideas are the simplest, and Rock of the Dead’s concept of tossing an assortment of monsters into a rhythm game is excellent, I only wish it would’ve been implemented better. For full disclosure, many of my issues stem from my lack of any music game peripherals, which makes slaying the many beasts this game throws at you pretty damn tough. I don’t own a plastic guitar or drum set so I had to rely on my controller to not-so-nimbly take out the waves of enemies I encountered.
First off, you can’t change the button prompts to read out the letters on the buttons, and that’s how I’ve memorized them. When I’m playing a game I think X, Y, A and B, not blue, yellow, green and red. Maybe that’s just me but even if it is it would’ve been nice to have the option. Hell, why not have the color and the letter displayed in the prompt? Just an idea.
Rock of the Dead has a great sense of humor that makes the terrifying situation of asteroid revived creatures of the night a little less unsettling. If I found myself in the same situation as the game’s protagonist(s) I don’t think my first thought would be to kill them with music, it’d probably be more along the lines of soil myself and run away crying. But that’s why I will never be a hero, because I revert to a child far too easily.
It’s humor is paired excellently with a cartoony art style that certainly won’t have this game winning any awards for best visuals but they do their job well enough. I didn’t have any issues reading the prompts that were placed fairly intuitively so you never feel too overwhelmed when the larger waves come.
Easily the game’s biggest selling point is its cooperative play that has you and a friend defeating hoards of alien monstrosities together. This feature makes the game worthwhile to check out, particularly if you’re a fan of the music genre but are looking for something a little different.
The Final Word: Despite an appealing style, good humor and fairly polished gameplay, I feel this game would’ve been more successful as a cheaper arcade title. It’s a great idea but Rock of the Dead doesn’t have enough features or polish to warrant its full game asking price. As a rental though, it’ll get you through a particularly dull weekend.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Rock of the Dead, which was provided by the publisher.