Ever wanted House of the Dead in VR? Zombieland: Headshot Fever offers a solid alternative.
Zombieland’s had an unlikely revival in recent times. First appearing in 2009, this post-apocalyptic comedy film brought us an entertaining story about four survivors—Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock—making their way through a zombie-infested apocalypse. Talk of a sequel soon followed, and Zombieland: Double Tap eventually emerged in 2019, leading to a resurgence of interest. We’ve seen two subpar adaptations since then.
Thankfully, Zombieland: Headshot Fever has just arrived on Oculus Quest, and XR Games has created a surprisingly solid shooter.
Acting as a self-contained story set after the events of Double Tap, players step into the role of “New Guy” and join the gang as they train for a sporting event called the “Zombieland Invitational”. Out of boredom, people are shooting live zombies inside racecourses, competing for the fastest times.
Inside this mansion, you’ll access these competitions via Little Rock, who offers four sets of increasingly difficult courses. Next to her is a practice range where you can warm up before each event. Columbus and Wichita cover in-game achievements, while Tallahassee handles your weaponry.
Fans will notice XR Games’ respect towards the source material too, maintaining that same dark comedy without relying too heavily on the events of the films. Keeping true to Zombieland’s spirit, they’ve even brought back Abigail Breslin to voice Little Rock but, sadly, the other cast members aren’t present.
However, XR Games has amusingly employed Woody Harrelson’s brother, Brett, in his place as Tallahassee. Beyond that, the only major detractor is the visuals, which are functional, but look rather dated.
Headshot Fever plays just like a 90s light-gun shooter, so if you ever clocked up the hours on House of the Dead, you’ll know what to expect. Survival is your goal, placing you against waves of zombies. Rather than a points system, courses are ranked on completion time, offering global and personal leaderboards.
To combat these undead foes, New Guy comes armed with a main pistol equipped to your dominant hand. If required, you can utilize a powerful secondary weapon such as a shotgun, but as a trade-off, those have limited ammo. Reloading both involves flick the corresponding joystick down to empty your clip, then moving your gun towards the fresh one.
If you’re chasing high scores, you’ll want to make use of “adrenaline mode”, activated by landing two consecutive headshots. This slows down time for precision shooting, letting you build up adrenaline with continued headshots in order to pull off satisfying combos. Each course has four challenges that encourage replayability, ranging from finding a specific item, finishing within a set time, pulling off x number of headshots, and more.
Completing these objectives earns you new items like different gun skins or toilet paper, which serves as your in-game currency. It doesn’t take long to complete each course, and I do wish there were more to choose from, but there’s an addictive core premise that kept me hooked from start to finish.
Zombies need eliminating before moving ahead, using a teleportation-based approach to get through levels, and it perfectly suits this arcade gameplay. Outside your normal stragglers, Zombies also come in several variants to keep things interesting. “Throwers” launch items that need taking down.
“Homers” won’t hurt you but shooting them incurs a 5-second penalty. “Ferals” will try rushing you, whilst “Big Guys” are basically tanks, requiring heavy fire to slay. If they get too close, that’s game over. Once the wave is defeated, all you need to do is look at the freshly placed marker to move on.
If courses start proving difficult, weapon load-outs can be changed through Tallahassee, letting you swap between any unlocked ones, though there isn’t a huge range to choose from. Existing weapons can also be upgraded by trading toilet paper, which can be obtained by completing levels, finishing challenges, and landing headshots.
Every gun holds different stats on areas like damage and ammo capacity, and they can also be altered with special perks. Only a set number is equipped at once, offering improvements like increased adrenaline time or improved aim.
Licensed tie-ins usually aren’t much to talk about, but XR Games has done well with Headshot Fever. Granted, there are a few wider drawbacks with weapon variety, length, and visuals, but they’ve successfully delivered an engaging arcade shooter, one that stays true to Zombieland’s roots. Boosted by high replayability, even if you’re not a series fan, Headshot Fever is an accessible experience that anyone can jump into, and I’d highly recommend taking a look.
Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever is available now on Oculus Quest for $19.99 / £14.99. PC VR platforms and PlayStation VR are set to follow later this year.
*This review was conducted using an Oculus Quest 2. Review copy provided by XR Games*