I’m gunna review a zombie game now
I’m surprised it’s taken this long for a zombie game to appear on our iPhone screens. I mean think about it, since the advent of iOS gaming, we’ve been inundated with all types of game both weird and wonderful, but there aren’t any titles that feature zombies. Who would’ve thought it? Zombies are easy fodder for video games, you’d think by now the AppStore would be swamped with them.
So Zombie Gunner is the AppStore’s first zombie game. As I said, amazing. It’s a side-scrolling shooter, where you play as Andrew (typical action hero name there) whose daughter Lisa has been kidnapped when a zombie infestation spreads through the town. Actually, I should rephrase that, she’s been taken, not kidnapped. Zombies aren’t smart enough to demand ransom and all that nonsense, not when there are brains to be eaten.
It’s your job to grab your guns and your cash-dropping red pig (more on that later) and go find Lisa. You move across levels blasting zombies while collecting coinage to spend on weapons and upgrades.
This is a game of varying quality that ranges between interesting and sloppy. We’ll start with the negatives, because you know, it’s more fun.
The controls seem unnecessarily fiddly. You’ve got two sticks – the left handles movement, the right is for shooting, but you actually shoot by sliding the stick towards the direction you want to fire rather than pressing a button. This presents problems because the on-screen zombieficaton can get quite intense, and the sliding action isn’t always picked up. As a result, you’ll often find that you suddenly either stop moving or stop firing. As a strategy for surviving an attack of the undead, that’s about as effective as stopping to ask where the nearest toilet is.
In addition, the interface is cramped and confused. There’s a lot of information competing for space and not everything is explained properly; you’ll likely blast your way through a couple of levels before realising that tiny picture in the corner releases a smart bomb (it doesn’t). On this note, one of the biggest, most careless sins committed here is the awkward layout of text. There clearly isn’t enough room to squash everything in, so it seems sacrifices had to be made. Text is routinely cut off mid-word to start a new line. ‘Bullets’ becomes ‘bullet
s’. It’s definitely one of my pet peeves when it comes to iOS games, and it cheapens the experience. As an aside, you should try feeding your pet peeves cat food. Mine seem to like it.
But for all it’s faults, Zombie Gunner gets the most important thing right – the gunning. It’s meaty and weighty and satisfying. Zombies explode into sticky remains when you blast them away (even the default revolver packs an enjoyable punch), the screen shakes nicely while you exercise your trigger finger (that’s shooting, not the annoying muscular condition), and the promise of a range of weapons keeps you nabbing those coins. Characters are bold and chunky, and fantastically drawn; you won’t want to take your eyes off the screen. Mainly because you’ll probably get your intestines chewed by a zombie, but you know what I mean.
You can also purchase vehicles which takes the carnage up another level and are brilliantly overblown, as well as ‘Friends’ which give you small advantages such as dropping more coins or restoring your health. Hence the red pig. The levels also mix things up with varying objectives, although yes, everything will always come back to firing large weapons at your former postman’s face. There’s definitely a lot of content and combinations here to keep you coming back.
But it’s a shame that the game doesn’t realise how ridiculous it is. Visually it’s so over the top that you’re waiting for some humour; an in-joke or two, or some sort of nod and wink that it knows exactly what it’s doing. But it never comes, with everything instead being played completely on the nose.
It’s disappointing, because the inclusion of a bit of irony would’ve made this a stronger game. I’m a sucker for it as you may have guessed. You didn’t think I was being serious in that first paragraph, did you?