... shell casings dance in hazy gore-spray ... send more cops ...
This rates 2.5 stars played with the rules as written out of the box. With the proper amount of house-rule spackle this can climb as high as 3.5 or even 4 stars with the right music, mood and people.
How much spackle? All of it. You'll want to come up with new rules for movement, combat, endgame and victory conditions, using any combination of your own tasty brains, the Quick(er) Play Rules, and Mark Chaplin's suggestions:
1. Throw out the rulebook.
2. Pick and choose from variant rules on the 'net—remember to keep it SIMPLE!
3. Do not lay down tiles after finding the helipad.
4. Forget counting "dead" zombies for the winner—this is a kill-the-zombies-to-escape game. Let the most bloodthirsty player place the helipad.
5. When a player dies, have him/her/them control the zombies, etc.
6. Trim the card deck to a custom-picked 50-60 cards. NO more, no less. Keep it 50/50 to screwage/benefit cards.
7. Use a timer—this keeps a panicky atmosphere ticking over.
8. Mount the town tiles on 2mm-thick card.
9. Use the subway expansion.
Also take a look at the smorgasbord of rules salad on the Twilight Creations website.
I have to admit that I was very put off by this at first—if I wanted to make my own game I would have made my own game, not spent money on an unfinished product. With time, however, I've very much warmed to the idea of Zombies!!! as a sandbox/toolkit experience game, a gaming hot rod that can be fiddled with and tuned until you get the custom ride that perfectly suits you & your game group.
If you dig the theme, have the time and are so inclined to tinker, this is pretty darn good.
The original base set for Zombies!!! is one of the greatest values in boardgames. $20 USD for a box stuffed with a stack of map tiles, a deck of cards, dice, cardboard counters and 100 plastic zombies. The game itself is mediocre, but new players always get a big kick out of the high quality components. Buy a couple of expansions if you want to potentially have a giant city map that will cover every table you own. Or just get the Schools Out Forever expansion for the new Guts tokens and Six Feet Under for the highly useful subway stations and sewer lids movement. Really, this is still a simple but decent game, as long as you force everybody to finish their turns quickly. I recommend a 1-minute sand timer.
Great production for the cost and neat ideas. Just left me let down, and some gamey parts (like placing the helipad at the end - you can just die, respawn and race there). Too long for what it ends up being, and as I recall, you might draw a card for a cool item, but the building you needed to be in to get it was across town. LAME. Really think scenarios would've made this one better.