The lights are on
Earlier this year developer Mighty Rocket Studios announced a new title related to the PS2 horror series Obscure (watch us play the first game). The side-scrolling, four-player, cartoony action game is a far cry from the tense, grim original. Mighty Rocket Studios has since changed the game’s title after hearing feedback from fans. Now titled Final Exam, this downloadable title (a retail PC version is coming, too), pits four players against hordes of zombies in environments like carnivals and high school. I played through a section of the game, and constantly fighting back waves of zombies makes the title feel like a side-scrolling Left 4 Dead.
The controls combine standard side-scrolling action with twin-stick shooting elements. Players jump around, climb ladders, and slash apart zombies with a melee attack. Earn experience and unlock new weapons and moves by performing lengthy combos. The right analog stick aims your weapon, which in my case was an assault rifle. Ammo is scarce, so I used it for the hairiest situations. All the characters have unique attributes, like a cartwheeling cheerleader or football quarterback. I liked using my QB’s charge and stomp abilities as smart bombs to clear out groups of pesky zombies. Just be careful that you don’t get too close the exploding variety. The game controls well, but I found hopping onto staircases in the background sticky. It’s a small gripe that could be ironed out when the final version releases, but the incessant zombie hordes exaggerate even the smallest control issues.
I partnered with one other player for some local co-op. Up to four players can play locally or online. We had fun protecting each other from the never-ending waves of zombies while leading children stuck in the amusement park to safety. Our mission was to escort all the children from their hiding places to a school bus. The kids’ AI was pretty inconsistent, often requiring us to backtrack and run by them to get them to follow us again. This mission is just one example of the variety of tasks awaiting players in the handful of large maps.
The downloadable market is lousy with zombie games, but Final Exam may scratch the side-scrolling, co-op itch that few of them do. If Mighty Rocket Studios can deliver intriguing environments and missions to keep players busy, this is an exam that might be worth taking when it hits PSN, XBLA, and PC in coming months.
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I hope they make a new canon ObsCure for next-gen consoles. This just reminds me of a browser game by Nerdook called Zombies Took My Daughter, although that was pretty fun.
Looking at games like Matt Hazard and Shoot Many Robots, I have found that very, very few 2.5D sidescrolling shooters come ANYWHERE CLOSE to matching up to games like Contra and Metal Slug, or Mercenary Kings now. The lone exception being Arc System Works' Hard Corps: Uprising. Plus, this has stupid zombies. And is connected to - however tangentially now - some obscure, budget horror title that has been forgotten by many. This thing has "pass" written all over it for me, personally.
I heard about this when I was searching obscure 3 -.- such a shame that the game ended up like this :(