Review | 5/21/2009 at 6:14 PM

Zombie Wrangler Co-Op Review

Companies use zombies in experiments all the time, especially in the city of Potters Field. When escaped zombies get into the residential areas and the parents are all busy, it's up to the kids to wrangle up the flesh eating mess and send them back to the lab. Armed with a “Wrangler-Pack”, a chore list to keep tasks straight, and abilities unique to each character your job is to wrangle up loads of undead escapees and send them back where they belong! Think Ghostbusters meets whack-a-mole in the brightly colored suburb of Potters Field, using the humorous undead as your enemies.

Undead enemies were surely amusing – from business suit zombies, to smothering “soccer mom” zombies, to vomiting zombies, to zombies that take their heads off to use as projectile weapons. Even squirrels get in on the action if you get too close, doing a good job of slowing you down with a squirreley attack! Avoid the undead and rodents to pick up bonus items, weapon upgrades for the Wrangler-Pack, or destroy toxic capsules to keep Potters Field safe.

Run!!!! Human with a pumpkin head!!!

Our chore list gives you objectives to complete before advancing to another area. Number of a specific type of zombies to destroy, certain items you need to find, or a count down survival timer. The chore list was the same in both co-op modes, and is shared between both co-op partners. So, if the chore list calls for 10 "skater zombies" to be captured, and player one has 4, but player two has 6, that objective is removed and both players can advance.

Your Wrangler-Pack is the vacuum of the undead, sucking up zombies to be sent back to their rightful place for a bounty. Since the Wrangler-Pack takes a moment to successfully trap zombies, the kids use a punch attack to stun any zombies around them. If the zombies get too overwhelming in an area, each character has a unique backup plan of their own.  This backup plan comes in the form of a "power" attack that can strike from a distance, causing a one-hit kill on any undead. This works well for national security, but will in turn cause the Potters Field "lab" to lose a valuable Zombie specimen.

Each enemy killed in Zombie Wranglers is worth money, and captured enemies are worth double. Chain captures for bonus money and upgrade your Wrangler-Pack to pick up more enemies at once from a further distance. Fortunately both local and online 4 player co-op were available, unfortunately they were both very different experiences simply because of the camera.

Is it safe yet? 

Your online co-op gives you the option of third person view and overhead camera view, while local co-op cheats players with one single overhead camera. By having no split screen on the local gameplay, players are linked together in a limited playing sphere, limiting their mobility toward valuable objects and the ability to flee a mob of zombies. Having 2 characters on a single screen is pretty bad, but 4 characters on a very limited space like that, all chained together by the single camera, is restricted and frustrating.

To add to the local co-op limitations, if a player dies, their corpse traps the screen over them until they respawn. Dooming a partner in need of heath, or power ups. Online co-op doesn't have this issue at all, as the characters are controlled on individual screens and can get as far away as necessary to fully sweep a screen for secret items. The one advantage to overhead camera angles is the vantage point to important items. Though, having the option to enter the overhead camera mode gives the online co-op the gold star.

Online co-op plays much like the single player campaign - Independent characters fulfilling their chore list goals, only you have a buddy to back you up if you get swamped by enemies, or are in the mindset to clear the entire level in sweeping formation. There isn't much to this game, it's very straightforward mindless fun for a few hours at a time. Co-op makes it more enjoyable while making commentary on the goofy surroundings, or zombie types that enter the screen.

I ain't afraid of no

Co-op in Zombie Wranglers gives the mundane tasks a bit more depth, and supporting one another to efficiently mop up the undead is much more satisfying than doing it alone. Local co-op falls short by having a restrictive single-screen camera, but also gives a different vantage point for playing!  Online co-op is where it's at, and really fits well within the game.  These four kids are friends in their neighborhood, so why separate them for a boring single-player experience?