From Computer & Net Player, Mar 97, p.59
If the next stage in the evolution of the first-person shooter is to be more of a change of style than of substance, then GT Interactive's ZPC is at the forefront. Despite the fact that it uses the aging Marathon 2 engine and it isn't true 3D, this is one of the most distinctive looking games I've seen in quite some time-mainly because it looks like a weird, hyperviolent, psychedelic comic book. And in one of those rare and pleasant twists, it's also a lot of fun.
The plot has you cast as a prophet of God exile, who, centuries before, was shoved into space by terrorists seeking to usurp the God-like pharaohs of an alternate earth. You return to find your homeland and your people cruelly ruled by a fascist regime, and you must regain your throne by brutally destroying the tolitarian terrors. It's sort of like the punk/alternative version of Wolfenstein 3D.
ZPC uses the Marathon 2 engine, so it plays in essentially the same way and has all of its limitations as well. The up/down viewing area isn't wide enough, there isn't a jump or crawl command, and it uses the caps-lock key for running and swimming. ZPC does seem to run slightly better in hi-res, however, and its look goes a long way toward giving it a feel all its own. It's still just a first-person shooter, of course, and if you're sick of them, don't bother to look here; there's nothing new in ZPC's playability at all. You're still just going around killing things while avoiding return fire and gathering powerups and extra ammo.
Throughout the game, you'll collect various types of ammunition to use in your one main gun. You'll also find grenades, machine guns, and even lightning bolts; and as you progress, you'll gain items that increase your character's psychic powers. (You can also fall back on the "chi punch"psychic blast weapon and use your gun to bash the enemy if you run out of ammo.) Like Marathon2, the game doesn't allow you to save whenever you want to, and instead of save terminals, ZPC requires a powerup to save. Each item allows you to save the game once, but the game is so challenging that this feature really isn't too beneficial.
ZPC does have solid multiplayer options--eight-player network and two-player modem modes--and there's a multitude of levels and variations to choose from. Sounds are well-done, with some nice explosive effects and splattering noises, and the music, which works remarkably well to heighten the atmosphere of the game's violent, psychedelic world, is the work of Ministry and the Revolting Cocks. Its cool soundtrack also gives ZPC one of the best first-person shooter musical scores on the market.
From Gamecenter Dispatch 1/17/97
4. INTRODUCING DISPATCH-DIRECT DOWNLOADS
You can never have enough downloads, which is why we're rolling out a massive new Dispatch-Direct Download section as a regular part of the Gamecenter Dispatch. We'll be featuring three popular downloads that you may have missed from our "download of the day" archive, as well as one of our "theme paks." "Theme paks" are downloads grouped by categories such as arcade classics, action packs, and more. Here are this week's downloading highlights:
From "download of the day":
ZPC (GT Interactive)
Computer Player, Nov 96, p.38 by Glenn Broderick
This title already had a cult following before it was released. For those of you who aren't in that cult, let me explain why the interest exists.
Although, at first glance, ZPC might resemble just another first person shooter, if you look a little closer, you'll see its singularity. First and foremost, famed artist/animator Aidan Hughes is the lead artist. Fans will recognize Hughes' work from KMFDM album covers and from "MTV Liquid Television" short clips; the stark, cartoony style that was his trademark in these other venues is alive and well in ZPC. In addition, former members of my favorite band (Ministry) are doing the tunes for this game. When you combine this popular artist with the musical talents of such a well-known band, it would be hard not to capture the interest of a lot of people. Throw the Marathon game engine into this mix of talent, and you'll understand where this cult of prerelease followers comes from.
Having seen and played an alpha of the game, I can say that it's a truly unique gaming experience; first-person shooting takes on a whole new feel when you're doing it in an animated world crafted by Aidan Hughes. Plus, who doesn't absolutely love music that's even loosely associated with Ministry? People who are eagerly awaiting ZPC won't be disappointed.
The Red Herring, Sep 96, p.151
Our crack team of play testers loved this retro game based on the Marathon game engine and designed by Zombie Entertainment. With subdued colors, 1940's comic- book styling, and plenty of fake wood paneling, ZPC is one of the hippest, darkest games we played. You storm a futuristic Fourth Reich fortress and waste space Nazis to a martial beat. You can dispose of enemies by boxing or shooting them, but our preferred method was sneaking up behind them and bludgeoning them with the butts of our guns. While the premise of ZPC is hardly original, the graphics and action are. If you like Marathon, check this one out.
The Seattle Times, Sep 8, 96, by Steven L. Kent
Now here's a game that's black and white and red all over . . . literally. Nearly all of the art in "Zero Population Count" is red or black, creating a jarring and dramatic effect.
In many ways, the game is the most artistically ambitious "Doom"-style game ever created. It is the story of a messiah with a shotgun returning to a bleak world of peasants and supermen.
The graphics are stunningly two-dimensional - flat and artistic. Illustrator Aidan Hughes gave the game a dramatic and exaggerated Orwellian look that is unique.
Axcess, Aug/Sep 96, p.92
ZPC (which stands for Zero Population Count) is another Doom-ite from a relative newcomer, Zombie Entertainment. Using the tried-and-true Marathon engine from Bungie Software, Zombie has managed to create the coolest, most surreal, most unabashedly violent game to surface in the first-person shooter field to date. For one, the game features the gritty, visceral comic-book art of Aidan Hughes, best known for his work commissioned by the band KMFDM. Instead of realism, which has been the goal of every other Doom-style game in history, ZPC more closely resembles one of those nightmarish animation shorts on MTV. This, combined with the music of Paul and Roland Barker (Ministry and Revolting Cocks), makes ZPC the perfect alternative to the games everyone is sick of. Even the plot is cool. You assume control of Arman, a fourth-generation "War Messiah" who is released from prison to save the remaining survivors on the planet's surface. Along the way, you must see to the demise of the group known as the "Black Brethren" in order to restore your crown and regain the throne. The gameplay is fast and frantic, and the artistic treatment rates a 10 on the cool scale. Zombie is not run by a bunch of computer geeks. So, if you were one of the millions consumed by Doomania, you can go back to the software store now-there's some new blood.-ME