Monday, April 27, 2015

Events: OzApocalypse - Zombie Apocalypse

I had the opportunity to go and run through the Oz Apocalypse Zombie Experience over the weekend, and wanted to give you my thoughts on it.

There has been quite a bit of controversy around the event, primarily as it changed hands very late in the piece and there was quite a disparity between what the original promoters/organisers (IRL Shooter, who ran Patient 0 in 2013) and the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Experience: LAZARUS event being put on by OzApocalypse and Horror Corp Entertainment. This mostly stems from OzApocalypse "buying up" the Pozible Campaign that for whatever reason IRL Shooter found itself unable to present.

This was NOT the sequel that IRL Shooter had promised, this was an event put on by OzApocalypse that drew on that event, its fanbase, and premise. I think that in several aspects it was not as impressive as IRL Shooter's Patient 0 (it wasn't nearly as large or sprawling, and didn't have the embedded story).

However, it was also superior in several ways. The technology for one, I felt was significantly better.

The irM4's from iCombat sync wirelessly to the smart bandoleer we all wore, which recorded shot data, accuracy, and more.  The irM4's were fitted with a 150 round SmartMag and additional magazine kits can be purchased. If a player is eliminated, their gun shuts off for a period of time preventing cheating! The best thing about the new weapons were that they had CO2 powered sound and recoil. you could feel every shot, hear every rapport.

I knew if my teammates were firing, even over the din of the event space, and that was  a crucial improvement in the experience.

The bandoleers were tied to our irM4's wirelessly, and reported back to a central computer, and more importantly, they tied into the headbands worn by the Zombies, these were similar to the bandoleers we wore, and acted as emitters to make proximity to the zombies damaging. Get too close, and they "bite".

Shoot the sensors and they flash and go solid with a kill, and the actors dropped. All this data was fed back through to the behind-the scenes control and scored were generated, and passed against the membership cards we were given at registration, giving you reciprocal rights at other iCombat sites, and the ability to accrue rank in the network.

The OzApocalypse website made mention that there was the ability to customise your irM4, but this is a bit of a misnomer, in that there were a second set of weapons, the short barreled, and Picatinny rail mounted short barreled "Commando" irM4's in their armory, fitted with vertical grips, there wasn't really the facility during the Zombie Apocalypse event to do any customization other than adjusting the buttstock and in my case, fitting my own sling, the trusty 215Gear sling.

Other than this it replicates one of the most known assault rifles in the world, the M16/M4, and is used by law enforcement and militaries all over the world.

It has the same form, fit, and function as the real thing and brings the word realism up to a whole new level. I really enjoyed the "Tap, Rack, Bang" functionality. Removable clips, internal sensors and fully functional parts, from mag-release to selector switches . The weapons and sensors made the event for me. No more reload button or hard to hear electronic sounds. You hear and feel every round, in a longer engagement, if you were kitted out with spare mags you could drop your mag and slam a new one home. They bypassed this by assigning everyone a cylume glowstick, and had a reloading station where we were restocked by a technician, but you can see how it could be easily enough facilitated in a more longterm event.

And that's all before we even get to set dressing, gameplay and the actors! I was really happy with what we faced when we passed through the containment doorways.

 When OzApocalypse took the event over, they brought on Horror Corp Entertainment from the US, engineers who specialized in Haunted House and Zombie Apocalypse Experience "in real life" gaming environments. They have three decades of experience in visual, sound, event and multimedia production, creating theatrically-based, interactive horror and genre projects. The event at the Melbourne Showgrounds takes place in a blackened-out, light-controlled battle zone, it doesn’t matter what time of day it is,  – players will step into an ominous world to fight ravenous zombies. The Prop and Set Designers as well as Makeup Artists create a film set style environment that immerses players in the Zombie Apocalypse survival experience.

Combinations of lighting, (and lack of lighting), selected use of smoke, as well as a really harrowing and oppressive sound-scape really put pressure on the player as they navigate a maze or debris and horrific scenes.

I had the good fortune to get to go backstage and saw the interconnected passageways the actors could take to move from area to area, where they would emerge and lay in wait for the passing players, in and around the sets. The hospital area bugged me the most, as I work in them, and have done the graveyard shift...

The maze was a CQB nightmare, with blind corners, concealed alcoves and all manner of cover for the zombies to lurch from and come at us. Importantly though, for all its twists and turns, it was a "safe" environment, from an OH&S perspective and you could easily cope with the 6-8 person teams recommended. We ran it in a team of three, and were like a well oiled machine. I didn't have to worry about anyone actually getting hurt for real during even an intense simulated combat.

We weren't rushed along as we had been in the Patient 0 event, and even though the maze was relatively small, much more in line with a Haunted House event rather than the sprawling warehouse/factory sit utilised for Patient 0, and we went through the maze twice, as a part of the gameplay, I certainly didn't feel any less fearful of my life when zombies came at us from dark corners, or rattled on us from behind chainlink walls as we faced more direct threats.

Back in the registration area, the stark lighting, clean floors and all too living other players was a more jarring experience. I wanted back in to my comforting darkness, screaming and sirens. The one upside of the "real-world" was that I got to fool around with both the Glock training weapons. The Glocks had the same "real features" as the irM4's, removable clips, wireless targeting and scoring, and ammo-counts. Unfortunately due to limited battery capacity, and high accuracy, they weren't really suited to the spray-and-pray zombie hoard threats the game presented with.

A regrettable technical difficulty, but one the organisers preferred to keep it out of the game, but available for range use! I also got to use the notorious pain-belt! It was a really, really unpleasant experience and I heartily recommend it for all gamers. Again, it apparently was not suited to use in the zombie game, but us perfect for PvP shooting. I tried it on the low setting, which was startling and also all the way up at high, which was curse-making, but didn't hamper me as soon as it stopped. Incentive not to get shot, for sure.

So, all in all I was really pleased with the OzApocalypse Zombie Apocalypse event. I was a Pozible campaign ticket holder, and I feel it was pretty amazing that they would offer to honour the IRL Shooter LAZARUS ticket holders at all, which was super generous. It certainly is NOT a sequel to the Patient 0 game, and its really hard to compare the two events as apples and apples. I really enjoyed it, and really look forwards to going back for more.

The Zombie Apocalypse Experience is running for two more weekends, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays while weekdays and weeknights give those who love games like Call of Duty the chance to combat team vs team combat in the BATTLE APOCALYPSE arena, which is the same area as the Zombie Apocalypse event, but with the connecting areas opened up, some walls opened up, and more personal threats, with pain belts available on request, I believe. I'd really recommend you get along and enjoy it, in either its Zombie Apocalypse, Battle Apocalypse or even the kid-friendly FAMILY versions, before it finishes.

AND, thanks to the organisers, I can offer all my readers a whopping 35% discount with the code "COYOTE0415" (thats charlie-oscar-yankee-oscar-tango-echo-zero-four-one-five).

TICKETS: Lazarus
Battle Apocalypse
Group Bookings (minimum of eight players) email

Facebook and Twitter OzApocalypse


  1. How much did they pay you to write such a disingenuous review?

    1. I got a media-discount on entry for me and my team, but other than that, no financial advantage came my way. I didn't get any from IRLShooter:Patient 0 either in 2013, and I even backed the second Pozible campaign as a Genesis user, with the aim to get full suite of extras, and wrote that money off as lost. I'll be going and making use of the voucher the OzApocalypse offered for those too.

      When I got the emails from IRL Shooter in June 2014, I was excited, when I went to the garage sale in July I was leery, the disappointing email in August I shrugged and thought "well, there goes my money", hearing back in December that they would have the event on in January, followed by its cancellation sealed my opinions. Bear in mind, I had been in contact with the organizers from the time the Pozible campaign was announced. I only managed to meet anyone at the garage sale, and that was late, in itself.

      I enjoyed the current event, and didn't get swept up in the hype that came from either IRLShooter, nor OzApocalypse. I rarely take marketing at face value, and didn't have high expectations, so I wasn't disappointed. As soon as I heard that the event had changed hands, I wrote the connection in the storytelling and gameplay off. I didn't expect it to -ever- get off the ground, so the fact that I still got an event to go to pleased me.

      Seems like a lot of people had high expectations and were disappointed. There was a LOT of bad blood by the IRL Shooter actors and staff, I know several from roleplaying communities, and they are super bitter, as were several investors I know. I wasn't, and my review reflects that, I feel.

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