Candygun Games just launched their latest title Dead Block for Xbox Live Arcade. Players must fight for survival against the undead with use of their surroundings, traps, melee weapons, and teammates. Is this zombie defense game worthy of your hard earned ten bucks? Possibly.

Dead Block takes place in the 1950s, when gas prices were affordable, the golden age of cinema was in full swing, and apparently some insanely evil rock ‘n roll craze caused an apocalyptic musical plague turning the deceased into the walking dead.

The story in Dead Block is told through a series of TV episodes giving you a brief backstory, providing you with one of the three characters (Mike, Jack, and Foxy), and unleashing a shit-ton of zombies on you while you’re trapped inside of a Diner, High School, Mansion, etc. The game offers up to 10 single-player levels, each with their own unique feel, providing different types of interiors. Each level gives you access to one character and, on occasion, the other heroes will show up… but you often have to rescue them. For instance, Foxy might be trapped inside of a room, but you need a key in order to unlock the door and free her, thus making her available for use. This is where Dead Block offers what other zombie defense games do not.

Every single structure in each location can be broken down by mashing B, turning it into wood which you use to build barricades over windows, doors etc. Some structures will have items placed on them that you can search.  This pops up a mini-game for you to play that from varies tapping the triggers to rotating circles with slits, lining them up so you can reach in and grab the item. Most of the time, you will find bolts that are used to build traps, and each character has their own specific set.

Dead Block offers a ton of awesome traps for you to play around with. Foxy, for example, has a bomb trap. Once the zombies rip through the wood causing the bomb to drop, an ginormous explosion is set off, killing multiple zombies within a short few seconds. Other traps include things such as Freeze Traps that freeze zombies in place, giving you an easy one-hit kill; Cardboard Trap drops cardboard boxes onto the heads of zombies, making them wander aimlessly, swinging their arms and attacking their fellow undead army. However, these traps each have a their own green meter that when depleted, the trap disappears and you must rebuild it or replace it with a different trap or block the area with 2×4’s.

Each character also comes equipped with a handy melee weapon, but better weapons can be found throughout each level, such as hammers, nail bats, frying pans, etc. They also have their own unique power up — Jack starts off with a nail gun, Mike gets a nice juicy cheeseburger, and Foxy gets a handy tazer, but once used they require some time to recharge. Both melee weapons and power up weapons can be upgraded later in the game as you search through objects and find them. You can get freeze guns, shotguns, exploding cheeseburgers, and more. These upgrades are very critical because without them, you’re going to have a hard time against the walking dead.

The goal of each level is very basic:  you either must fight off X number of zombies or search throughout the level finding three guitar parts in order to get your inner rock star on and somehow magically kill the zombies. While these are the only two objectives and can get repetitive at times, the game doesn’t end once you complete them. You must make your way to a certain section of the map to activate the guitar, in which you get to play a little Guitar Hero-type solo before ending the game, or activating the Zomb-O-Matic after killing a certain number of zombies. So essentially, if you wanted to fight off the undead until your resources run dry and you’re fending for your life, you may choose to do so.

One of the great things about Dead Block is the amount of zombie chaos that happens at one time. This isn’t a game where 20-30 zombies attack and you get a new wave. Try around 40-60 zombies crammed into a building, blocking your paths, forcing you into a corner. Of course, there are always devices laying around to help you out; what kind of zombie game would this be without them, right? While searching through objects, you may find things such as TV antennas, raw meat, or money. By placing an antenna on a TV, the zombies will begin to watch a show and completely ignore your existence. You can also put raw meat on electrical heaters, zapping zombies when they walk by, or put a coin in the jukebox and watch them do a nice little dance.

Little, wacky things like this are what sets Dead Block apart from other zombie defense games and providing you with a great time. However, Dead Block is built with co-op in mind; it screams it. While you can switch between each character in single player with a simple tap of LB, the game only offers local co-op, which is a major disappointment. Unfortunately, due to the lack of online co-op, I was unable to experience the co-op portion of the game. The co-op doesn’t offer any new levels, so you won’t be missing out on much by playing only single player.

Thankfully, the items you find throughout the levels aren’t pre-set. So while you can replay any level of choice, your upgrades won’t carry over, but the items will be placed differently each time giving you more replay value. The music in the game is also pretty awesome. The end level song reminds me of the beginning of “The Hangover”, which is great and makes me feel like a total bad ass.

So overall, is Dead Block worth your cash? As much as I want to say rush out and buy it, I simply cannot. In reality it’s a split decision. If the lack of online co-op doesn’t bother you and you’re looking for a great zombie defense game, then Dead Block is easily worth your $10 and will provide you with hours of kick-ass zombie defense. If you planned on picking this up to play online with your buddies and not much into single player, I wouldn’t even think about purchasing the game until it drops down to 400MSP. In the end, Dead Block offered a ton of variety, comical gameplay, and some kick-ass tools to play around with. You should at the very least download the trial version and give it a go.

Here’s the rundown:

+ Good replay value, and some great music

+ Unique and entertaining gameplay that will keep you playing for hours

+ Awesome selection of tools and weapons

– Lack of online co-op

– May get repetitive for some

Dead Block was developed by Candygun Games and published by Digital Reality Ltd. It was released for Xbox 360 on July 6th, 2011 with a PlayStation 3 release date of June 20th, 2011 in the US. The copy used for review was provided to us by the publisher. Campaign was played until completion, taking around 4 hours to finish. Local Co-op wasn’t played due to the lack of a second controller.