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Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Not even if it was the last game on Earth... rss

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Matthew LaClair
United States
Watertown
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Okay, so I haven't done any reviews in a while and here's a game that I feel really deserves some attention. Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game is the latest (and evidently most successful) attempt at cobbling together some half-a**ed mechanics into a barely passable game, wrapping it up into a theme almost universally loved by nerdy gamer types, and barfing it into the mass market under the proud "Hey, it's all about the theme!" banner of mediocrity. This game stinks like the rotting, pestilent flesh of its titular undead. But where do I begin?

For starters, strategy is non-existent in LNoE. I'm not just saying it's a dice fest, that would be woefully understating the matter. This game basically plays itself. There's no way for the human players to win any scenario without hording a bunch of cards from the Hero Deck. The only way to do this is to park yourself in a building and sit there until you get what you need, flailing pitifully at any zombies that have shambled into your space. Once you get that weapon/item from the deck, there may (depending on the scenario) be an incentive for you to leave the building and actually do something. This grinds the game to a screeching halt right from the beginning as it becomes a matter of draw a card, roll some dice, end your turn. You might think I'm just boiling the game down to it's physical actions in order to make it sound boring, but that's really pretty much all you do. You may need to do some running around in order to get to your objective until you loose your item or your weapon breaks, at which point you have to run back to a building and start the whole tedious process all over again. Things aren't much better on the zombie side either, they have their own cards that they can play strategically, but there's not really any reason to do anything but pile living corpses onto the heroes in the hope that they will eventually be worn down. I'm not saying a game needs to be deeply strategic in order to be good, but it should at least offer something. At least games like Arkham Horror, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Runebound, DungeonQuest and Talisman offer some kind of narrative or tension. A completely random game can still generate a feeling of excitement, there's none of that in evidence here.

And you know, I could even put up with all that if this game wasn't so shockingly and unapologetically derivative. It's as if Flying Frog Productions simply took the rulebooks from a few other zombie games, tore pages from them at random, shuffled them up and sent it off for editing. Some of the mechanics are ripped straight from other games (the ranged combat system being the most grievous example) with no effort made to disguise LNoE's complete lack of originality. The HtH combat system is somewhat unique, I guess, and the different characters have their own abilities (although many are copied from one to the other). These things are fairly uncommon in this genre of game and they're deserving of some mild praise.

Yeah, but doesn't it just nail the theme? No, not really. Stylistically, the game is more Ed Wood than George Romero. The goofy archetypes and photographic artwork are appealing and they do work in this context, but are a bit more cartoony than usual for the subject matter (and the soundtrack is simply a waste, unnecessarily driving up the cost of the game). In terms of gameplay, there's nothing to tie the mechanics to the theme. This could have been about anything and you'd never know the difference. Why can't I construct a makeshift fortress? Why can't I decide to screw my friends over in an every-man-for-himself situation? How come zombies are agile enough to crawl underneath floorboards and ignore the effects of walls but my living characters aren't? Barring any of those things, couldn't I at least become a Ving Rhames-esque killing machine, mowing down hordes of zombies and going down in a blaze of glory? In what zombie movie do the protagonists spend the bulk of the film rummaging around for stuff?

Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game might have been worthwhile at one time, but it's about 6 years too late. You can't put perfume on a pig, and all the shiny gloss and cool components in the world can't hide the fact that this game has been done to death (no pun intended) and was better before. It's shallower than cheap filler like Zombies!!! and less thematically convincing than free print n' play games like Dead of Night. LNoE is much like its subject matter in that it is content to simply shamble along, moaning and decaying until some better-looking game comes along to put a bullet in its skull.
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Neil Sorenson
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So, how did you like it?
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Howell
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I'm envious. There's a lot of games I hate, but I've never been able to put my anger in words as succinctly as you did here.

We have differing opinions on the game, but I appreciate your review.
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Jon Quinn
United States
Bradley
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mattlaclair wrote:
[i] You can't put perfume on a pig, and all the shiny gloss and cool components in the world can't hide the fact that this game has been done to death (no pun intended) and was better before.


I am almost certain that you can put perfume on a pig.
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Mark Bigney
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Angry, but giving the impression of tough but fair. You are specific in your critiques. An excellent negative review, sir!
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Steve R Bullock
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jwquinn wrote:
mattlaclair wrote:
[i] You can't put perfume on a pig, and all the shiny gloss and cool components in the world can't hide the fact that this game has been done to death (no pun intended) and was better before.


I am almost certain that you can put perfume on a pig.


I DID put perfume on a pig once when I lived in the woods of Kentucky, and you know what- by golly that pig smelled pretty good!
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Antonio Chavez
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Wow. Me and my group have been enjoying the game for over a month now. Thats 6 plays total, and they are asking for more. We've had a blast every single time.

Obviously we're wrong. I'll let them know the game is no fun. I thank you for saving us the time we would have spent playing what is clearly not a fun game.

Regards.
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Tommy Dean
Australia
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Actually I think you sounded specific, but in fact made the same vague references that you accuse the game of.

I am an unapologetic fan boy of this game...and I am on record more than I should be in this area of the forum trying to really get at the "what is a game to you" theme. But in the face of, what we call in the comedy biz, an attitude piece...well...best to just sit back and laugh

Nice writing, the attitude hides some lazy reference (as a good attitude piece is wont to do) but the bile is always more tasty when served frothing!

Thanks for the laugh!

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Tim K.
United States
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Agreed. Angry but well-stated. A nice counter to the love-fest going on for this game thumbsup
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Mark Bigney
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Toronto
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Caveat: I have no opinions whatsoever on the game itself.

ozjesting wrote:
Actually I think you sounded specific, but in fact made the same vague references that you accuse the game of.


I have to disagree. He said;
a) The mechanics were ripped from other games, and were either derivative, didn't cohere with each other, or both;
b) There were few, if any, real choices to be made during a a game;
c) There was little sense of narrative provided by the game, unlike others of its ilk;
d) The game boils down to scrounging for cards, which is not tense or interesting.

Sounds pretty specific to me.
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Scott Everts
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
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I guess we should of expected some negative reviews eventually. I certainly understand all games aren't for all people. Though I think the tone of this review was alittle over the top but I assume the reviewer did it to draw attention and say "Hey I'm angry & hateful!"

All the times we played there were some great strategic moments. And certainly the theme and story plays out well during each game. I'd be curious how many times the reviewer actually played it. If only once then he might of had a bad game. Sometimes in random card games like this a bad draw or just bad luck can ruin the initial play.

It's a light Ameritrash game with nice theme and a good laugh. If you're looking for more you will be disappointed.
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Matthew Holley
United States
Duluth
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51% DELICIOUS!
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I've actually been waiting on this review to help me decide whether or not to buy this game. All of the gushing has made it very difficult for me to form an opinion. For much the same reason I always read the negative ratings first before I buy anything from any online retailer; I'd like to know that if I don't like a game- these will be the likely reasons.

Thanks for a review that states why you didn't care for this one. Thumbs up for giving me information I could actually use.
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Beau Bailey
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Ok, first off, I have NOT played the game, and even with this review I am still interested in getting this game.

But, I thought this was a good review pointing out problems he found with the game. His complaints seem to mesh with the positive reviews of the game. The disagreement seems to be purely over how much that affects the fun of the game.
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steven colby
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will not buy this game......thanks
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Bobb Beauchamp
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I dunno, while the review stated pretty clearly why the OP didn't like the game, I don't think it really provides all the much useful information as a review.

The problems stated with gameplay seem to stem more from the strategy used during the reviewer's games, and not truly something that comes from the rules. From other reports, it seems the human players have been doing just fine by doing more than just hiding in houses until they have a stack of cards. Also, whether provided in the rules, or commented here on BGG, the reason for zombies being able to travel through wall spaces was to prevent the fortress strategy from being implemented for any length of time. It's a boardgame, not reality, or even an RPG. There are going to be limits on actions in order to consider issues of fairness and balance.

As for hitting the theme, it seems the game doesn't fit the theme the reviewer was hoping to find. What is described in the review sounds pretty spot on, and while the OP didn't care for it, I think it still hits the theme fairly well. Considering another complaint was that he found the game derivative, the use of photographs for the content seems to be something few, if any, other games have done.

And, truthfully speaking, if derivative rules were really that big a knock against a game, our market choices would be about 70% smaller than they are today.

While the review was entertaining to read, it really doesn't help much as a review. The emotion written into the review makes it hard to really ascertain what the actual problems were, rather than just what the OP didn't like. And while "I didn't like that game" technically is a review, it's not really all that helpful.
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Will
Argentina
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Thanks for the review. I was thinking about this game lately but had my doubts. You certainly help me decide

I'll stick to Betrayal atHotH.
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Vaughn Sandor
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Eastlake
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I played it once and the zombies kicked our ass.

I'm looking forward to another stab at this game because I thoroughly enjoyed the first play.

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Ryan
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I've played this once, last Saturday. Our game was actually fairly tense and came down to the last turn to determine which side had won (we played the escape in the truck scenario). Everyone seemed to have have a good time playing, and of course this depends heavily on who you're playing it with and whether they're into the theme or not.

Are the game mechanics great? No. But they aren't horrible either, and there actually are strategic and tactical decisions to be made along the way. How do the heroes split their characters throughout the game? Do I use this item or event card now or should I save it for later? Why and when should I swap items with another hero? Who should we save and who should be sacrificed ... and when? Granted it's not Chess or Caylus, but to say there is no strategy involved is ignorant.

For the game design and mechanics alone I might give this game a 6 (and I, too, normally detest heavy dice rolling). Add on to it the fun factor and I bump it up to a solid 7.5.
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Ken B.
United States
Fayetteville
Tennessee (TN)
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So tons of positive reviews, but then one negative is enough to say, "I'll pass."


God, I love the internet.


Oh, and Mr. Tagmeister--Godwin's Law also applies to thread tags. That probably needs to be spelled out somewhere.
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Barry Kendall
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Pennsylvania
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I prefer mustard to perfume on my pig.

Some of your comments sound like the reaction of a friend of mine who played for the first time last night. About four turns in, he was having a fit because cards I played on him took his lovely shotgun away after the first shots.

Then he tried to melee a hospital full of zombies with characters who had no equipment.

Then he wanted the game to be over because he could see no way to kill fifteen zs in 15 turns. He did not care for the suggestion that as it might happen in reality, it's advantageous to accumulate some hardward before wading into a throng of zombies (or kindergartners, for that matter).

I'll agree that the game has derivative elements. However, as in VIKTORY II, derivations brought together in a good way can still make a good game.

I disagree that LNOE is "shallower" than "Zombies," which I find about as entertaining as mowing all the yards on my street pick ammo, mow down zombies, clear space, move to next space, mow zombies, pick up ammo, repeat; fuel mower, cut grass until yard is done, move to next yard, mow, run out of fuel, refuel mower, repeat). The equipment available is much more varied, the decisions about using what's found are interesting, and the graphics contribute nicely to the overall effect.

The only real drawback I've found concerns the board configuration, which becomes a little dull after a number of plays. I plan to experiment with different arrangements of the "L" boards, such as long-vs-square.

I also disagree with the statement that "the game plays itself." Players can choose to lone-ranger it or to work cooperatively with a "searcher" and an "escort" (preferably with good melee or firepower capability). How to use the Human mobility advantage to best effect, how to "ambush" z's in the zombie melee phase (where a lot of z casualties can be racked up if the right cards are husbanded) and how to operate tactically to eliminate z's with minimal losses are all part of game calculations.

The cards are, by design, a big part of the game, as is the tension between foraging for equipment and looking over one's shoulder at the shuffling horror coming this way. Standard subtheme in z movies; it would be a shame if it WASN'T there. The downloadable z game you mention does something very similar using counters and reference charts rather than self-contained cards. In real life, I try never to face a z without a weapon.

One refinement I plan to try is requiring z's to melee a solid wall successfully to enter (z and wall each roll one D6; z wins on ties) after stating the intention to enter. If a wall defeats the z that turn, the z just stands there (thumping on the wall/window, no doubt). Perhaps this could be carried further to define certain walls (morgue, sheriff's office jail cell) as Impregnable.

Easily done. Why wasn't this in the game to start with? Ease of entry into play, I suppose. It will be interesting to see what the Expansion provides (I hope to see the local Volunteer Fire Dept. with a couple of firefighters using rescue saws, Halligans, axes, high pressure hoses, etc.). I'd also like to see a multi-story building or two (Floor Two of the Mansions and High School, for instance).

Sorry you didn't like the game. It's true, it's not "World War Z" translated to the game table, but I think it's fun.
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Nasty McHaggis
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Columbia
South Carolina
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I'm pouring all of my points in sarcasm.
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Matthew LaClair
United States
Watertown
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I agree that my review was a bit short on "nuts and bolts" specifics, but that was on purpose and I stand by my comments. I usually do the standard review components/rules overview/what's good/what's not "format". However, that information has been covered adequately by other reviewers and I thought it would pointless to regurgitate it here.

My comments were a little over the top, again, the tone was meant as a counter to the love fest this game has undeservedly recieved IMnotsoHO. I certianly would encourage anyone to read the positive reviews for this game as well before you make your decision.

If you and your group like LNoE, don't take it as an insult that I don't. The point of my review was simply that if you already own or have played any of the countless other zombie games out there, you're not really any worse off just skipping this one and sticking with them.
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Take joy from your wins; take lessons from your losses.
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Mr.Baggins wrote:
Wow. Me and my group have been enjoying the game for over a month now. Thats 6 plays total, and they are asking for more. We've had a blast every single time.

Obviously we're wrong. I'll let them know the game is no fun. I thank you for saving us the time we would have spent playing what is clearly not a fun game.

Regards.


    Remarkably, someone that has posted in this thread told me just the opposite of what you say here yesterday in my session report. His conclusion when I asked how we had encountered such a complete blow-out of a game? It's not a problem with the game, it's a problem with ME, and apparently my friends as well.

    Obviously, WE were wrong too. I will let my friends know that the game is indeed fun, and that we should continue to endure our enjoyment.

             Sag.
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Take joy from your wins; take lessons from your losses.
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ozjesting wrote:
Actually I think you sounded specific, but in fact made the same vague references that you accuse the game of.

I am an unapologetic fan boy of this game...and I am on record more than I should be in this area of the forum trying to really get at the "what is a game to you" theme. But in the face of, what we call in the comedy biz, an attitude piece...well...best to just sit back and laugh

Nice writing, the attitude hides some lazy reference (as a good attitude piece is wont to do) but the bile is always more tasty when served frothing!

Thanks for the laugh!



    Apparently my writing did the same.

             Sag.
 
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Who Am I Now?
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volnon wrote:
jwquinn wrote:
mattlaclair wrote:
You can't put perfume on a pig, and all the shiny gloss and cool components in the world can't hide the fact that this game has been done to death (no pun intended) and was better before.


I am almost certain that you can put perfume on a pig.


I DID put perfume on a pig once when I lived in the woods of Kentucky, and you know what- by golly that pig smelled pretty good!



Are you sure that pig wasn't really Ned Beatty?

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