I have two favourite enemies that I enjoy blowing to smithereens: Nazis and zombies. In Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies I get to blow away a combination of the two, and I just love it.
Updated with iPad impressions after the rating.
Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies started as an unlockable survival mode for the console version of Call of Duty: World at War. Needless to say it became popular beyond belief, and now that mode is available as a standalone game for the iPhone. Now you can kill Nazi zombies whenever you feel an urge to do so for the premium price of ten bucks.
There are three different control methods in Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies. Two are completely touch based: touch screen and dual virtual sticks. Even after hours of killing Nazi zombies I still struggle with the standard touch controls once it gets really frantic. You control movement with a virtual control stick on the left side, and look around using the right hand side of the screen. Buttons are used for steady aiming, and firing your weapon and these are also found on the right side of the screen. At the bottom you also have a knife button to help you escape by slashing at the dead flesh. Touching the weapon at the top of the screen reloads it, and double tap changes to your other weapon. Quickly changing weapons instead of reloading is a must when you get surrounded. A button for throwing grenades is found below the weapon on the right side.
I think it is really easy to aim using these controls, and I manage to headshot zombies without any trouble from a distance. Up close and personal the controls tend to become less precise, and panic is a fact. Actually this is quite interesting as it gets much more realistic that you behave less controlled when surrounded by 10 zombies looking for a brain snack.
The second method using dual virtual sticks is even more precise, but a bit slower to control in frantic moments. You shoot by tapping the right virtual stick, and double tap to fire automatic fire for machine guns. I am slowly learning this method and think this will be my standard soon as it reminds me of playing Halo on the Xbox.
The third control method is based upon using the accelerometer. A virtual control stick controls movement, and you tilt to aim. I cannot get these controls to work in a game as hectic as Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies so it is definitely not for me.
The game is all about survival of the smartest. You get thrown into a large room with a number of windows, a staircase and a door. You start with $500 and get extra cash when repairing barricades for the windows. I usually try to conserve the ammo of the starting pistol to be able to purchase a better weapon right away. A simple machine gun at $600 is usually my choice of weapon initially. You can also unlock the door or clear the staircase for $1000 each. This gives you access to new areas of the mansion with new weapons to buy. You have limited ammo for all weapons but the flamethrower that has a limited use for each attack instead. I love the flamethrower, as I don’t have to run back for more ammo.
Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies is a survival game where the zombies attack in waves. In the current version there is only one map available, but more will be available by means of in app purchases. For each wave the zombies get harder to kill, and increase in number and speed. As you unlock new areas of the mansion you get more space to run and gun.
The graphics are some of the best for the iPhone so far, and to me seems to be on par with Xbox and Wii graphics. It runs really smoothly on my 3GS and iPod Touch without any slowdowns no matter how many zombies on the screen. The visual effects from fires, and exploding barrels are really top of the line. If you have time to shoot a zombie into pieces you will actually shoot chunks of meat away, and watch how it also affects the movement of the zombie. Sadly the dead zombies disappear but of course it would be hard if you had to run laps round piles of dead littering the house.
The sound has to be experienced using headphones as it really sets the mood. Weapon fire, snarling zombies and strange radio stations help make it a nightmare. At times you will also hear zombie battle cries, and then you know you are in for a challenge. As far as I can tell you cannot use your own music but I don’t think anyone should even think about not having the game audio for CODZ.
There is a single player mode that lets you try your skills alone against the undead. You play until you get killed, and then you can play again from the beginning. This is more or less only a training mode, and all you have to keep you going are local high scores and achievements. If you don’t have any means to play Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies online the game is not really that great. Of course it is exciting to play alone as well but it does get old after a couple of times.
If you play online it is another different story though as Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies is a co-op game for 2-4 players either within local Wi-Fi or online. You can also play 2-player Bluetooth games. The online games are either private or open, and so far I have only played the open games. Being in Sweden I have quite a good connection, and I have never had any trouble playing the game. On the other hand I tend to end up becoming the Host as other players tend to drop out due to connection errors. Most games end with me being alone at around wave 15 where I really need some help.
Playing Call of Duty World at War Zombies in online co-op is about the most fun you can have on an iPhone or iPod Touch. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know who I am playing with as we have a common goal: survival. When a comrade goes down you can revive them by running to their limp body, and use revive. This takes about five seconds, and you have to make sure to kill all surrounding zombies to not risk becoming a pile of discarded food as well. When you are dead you can shoot using a pistol to help your friends revive you. If your comrades complete the wave you will get revived automatically.
Powerups are dropped from time to time giving maximum ammo, double points, instant zombie kills and a wipeout of all remaining zombies of the wave using an atomic bomb. Timing is important when you use these as you can waste valuable help by for example using maximum ammo before reloading.
Four ragged soldiers, back to back; everyone should experience fighting hordes of zombies together. Even with only one map it always becomes a new game as the players change. I have played with campers, rushers, the helpless and the useless. Online leaderboards isn’t my first concern when surrounded by snarling Nazis but of course it is nice to get a little remedy when you get killed, and making a good score is such a remedy. I would have liked to be able to jump into the action further along, as now all games start from wave 1. On the other hand this forces me to play my best from the beginning to conserve ammo, and save money for the big guns.
Gameloft tried, ngmoco tried, even iD tried but the first really working FPS for the iPhone is Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies. I never though the day would come but here we are with a game that controls almost as well as having a keyboard and mouse or controller. Can we hope for a Modern Warfare for the iPhone now?
I will divide the scores for this game as the single player experience really differs from the online experience.
New map added: Verrückt(Zombie Asylum) $4.99 DLC
Activision has now updated the game with a new map called Verrückt, which translates to insane in English. And that is what you get. More zombies, but this time they are not only out to get their mouth full of brains but they are also in need of a bit of harsh counseling. In this insane asylum you have yet again to survive for as long as possible as the hordes swarm you. Of course the game is supposed to be experienced through online multiplayer, and there is no other game there with as fun coop out there.
The Verrückt map brings a lot of new features to the table, and it is definitely worth buying if you have already got yourself into Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies. To those who haven’t bought the main game yet the total cost will be $15 to get to play this new map. Still Verrückt is where all the other players will end up, and I can’t see any shortage of players for the months to come. Activision has proved to us that they are willing to stick to their game, and update it accordingly. The next map I hope they will give away at a lower cost though, as otherwise the game will be quite expensive if all maps cost five bucks.
The Verrückt map is varied, brings an arsenal of new weapons, and some new game play mechanics. Vending machines giving you special abilities have been added called Perk-a-Cola machines. You also have to make sure to turn on the electricity to get anything working at all. This makes the game play in Verrückt even more cooperative as you have to move as a team. If you thought the zombies were bad in Nacht der Untoten you haven’t seen nothing yet. These are mental, and when a Nazi had to go to an asylum he had some major issues. Thankfully they respond well to cold lead to the head.
10 achievements for Verrückt, and 13 new for Nacht der Untoten further enhances the value of Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies. It is definitely the best fps for the iPhone in my opinion, with Nova close at its heels. Working together with other peace loving soldiers around the globe is so much fun. At times though I get the feeling that I have to do everything in coop. There is no way to give orders, and it ends up in me running around checking up on everything. Some players just stand around in a corner blasting until the zombies get them, and then I have to revive them. And that can be hard if they have managed to pick a vulnerable spot to camp in. Still I get satisfaction out of helping a fallen comrade.
If you haven’t got yourself hooked to Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies definitely give the lite version a go. The production values of the game and awesome controls paired with the quite large number of players make it a definite recommendation.
|iPad addendum: Nigel Wood
Activision’s awesome team based spin-off comes to iPad in glorious HD. Seriously it looks incredible, particularly the new level ‘Zombie Verrukt’ which comes packed-in with the iPad edition, which goes someways towards the higher or price point. Other than that the game is exactly the same, although once again the controls on the bigger screen don’t feel as comfortable as the iPhone edition. Whether its played on the lap with your index fingers or held up using your thumbs, it all feels a little floaty. Get this if graphics are important to you or if you only own an iPad, otherwise get the iPhone version.