Tag Archives: Zombies

Zombie Infection Review: Give me your blood… please?

Gameloft is notoriously known for stealing popular games’ ideas and creating their own form of it on the App Store.  You can’t really blame or fault them though, as if they don’t do it, who will?  But this time, they’re bringing a game experience that’s familiar on the App Store: Resident Evil.

Capcom has already released both Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil: Degeneration onto the App Store, both of which were actually pretty decent.  But Gameloft, seeing the desires of some wanting some more Resident Evil on the iPhone, have released their newest third-person shooter Zombie Infection.

Zombie Infection takes place somewhere in Latin America in which working conditions have been questioned.  You are the character (you play both a man and a woman) that was sent to investigate the reported poor working conditions, and you start to discover that the working conditions are worse than expected; the workers have actually turned into zombies.  Your job is to find the origin of this zombie outbreak (hmm… haven’t heard that one before).

While the storyline is a little bit weak, the game isn’t short on action, as you’ll be fighting off zombie after zombie, with the inclusion of some zombie-fied animals.  It would have been nice for Gameloft to create some original IPs instead of console copies, but hey, atleast they make them well.

Likes

Graphics: The environments were quite colorful, and I was impressed with the graphics.  Gameloft usually does this part of the game correctly, and I was mostly drawn to the game by its looks.  The characters and enemies are very detailed, and I didn’t find many areas that were pixelated.

Controls: The controls were smooth and easy to use, and I didn’t have much trouble with it.  This is one area of concern that shouldn’t be one, as Gameloft has done a solid job of delivering comfortable and smooth controls.  For those not acquainted with the shooting mechanics of Resident Evil, you may have some getting-used-to time before becoming comfortable with the controls.  That’s only a maybe, and I didn’t have any problems with the game.

Replay Value: Luckily, Gameloft has included a Survival mode for those that have beat the single-player campaign mode.  It should provide with atleast some replay value, although there doesn’t seem to be leaderboards or any reason for competition within this area.  Still, I’m glad Gameloft included something for gamers to play upon completion.

Dislikes

Difficulty: The game does get difficult, even on the easy setting.  I found myself dying time and time again, and it did start to get frustrating every once in a while.  I would usually just quit out of the game until I felt like playing it again, but some may find the game a little bit frustrating to even think about going back.

Unoriginality: This seems to be a problem with most of Gameloft games, and Zombie Infection is obviously not exempt from it.  It’s a well-made game, I just think that it should be time for Gameloft to create some original games.

Zombie Infection is a well-made zombie-shooter with high production values, great graphics, and an overall solid gameplay experience.  Sure, the difficulty could do with some tweaking and it’s definitely unoriginal, but I can’t complain when Gameloft does a good job in bringing an RE-like experience to the App Store.

Zombie Infection was developed by Gameloft, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 3GS.  The price is $6.99.


Alive 4-Ever RETURNS Review: Second verse same as the first, but played with more gusto!

Alive 4-ever RETURNS doesn’t do much that’s new, but improves upon its predecessor in nearly every way. It’s not Alive 4-ever reinvented, but refined; less of a full sequel, and more of a version 2.0. And in this case, that’s just fine. After all, no need to fix what wasn’t broken to begin with. Instead, Meridian has taken off the rough edges and gussied the whole thing up. Compared to its predecessor, Alive 4-ever RETURNS looks better, plays better and is better.

Alive 4-ever RETURNS is the second coming of Alive 4-ever, released last year. The game is a zombie-themed dual-stick survival shooter with RPG elements whose narrative borrows heavily from the Resident Evil series. In short, an experimental virus has been released into the wild and is turning people into zombies. Playing as one of a small group of survivors, you must now survive the zombie hoard and make your way to safety. Over the course of 40 stages, you will level up to improve you abilities, and unlock new skills, weapons and equipment with which to customize your characters. Each stage has both a primary and secondary objective. Completing primary objectives will unlock the next stage and move the story forward, while completing secondary objectives will unlock new equipment and grant other bonuses to your party.

Aside from its general premise, the story is rather disposable. Something about the virus being en route to South America when the ship wrecks and the virus is unleashed on an island off the coast of California instead. There’s something about a zombie eating a sleepy lifeguard who never saw it coming, and then your survivors begin the game underground, in a subway station (which is ridiculous; a Californian island with an underground rail system?!), from which they later emerge into a forest (subway stations beneath forests?!). Ahem. So the story hasn’t improved, but everything else about Alive 4-ever RETURNS is better than the first time around.

The story really is of little importance. It’s the heroes, their guns, and the zombies they kill with them that matter, and there’s lots of each. To be precise, four upgradeable heroes, 37 weapons, and 18 types of zombies plus bosses. That adds up to a lot of survival-flavored carnage to be had, making Alive 4-ever RETURNS one of the most robust dual-stick action games currently available.

Likes:

RPG Elements: The RPG elements in Alive 4-ever RETURNS really help the game to stand out from its competition in the dual-stick arena. The constant character growth that occurs after stage completion provides a lot of motivation to keep playing the game, and the possible combinations of weapons, skills and buffs are nearly infinite.

Diverse Objectives: Each stage has its own completion objectives, which may include kills a set number of zombies, surviving for a set period of time, locating specific items, rescuing survivors and more. Adding further variety are the secondary challenge objectives, for which you are rewarded in new gear. The diversity keeps the game feeling fresh from stage-to-stage, and helps to maintain player interest over the course of the game’s 40 levels.

Visuals: Visuals have been stepped up for this second outing. The four main characters are much more distinct than the protagonists in the previous game, and the zombies and environments look better too. The weather effects add to the atmosphere, and a greater diversity of environments once more helps to keep things from getting stale. You’ll spill buckets of blood during the course of the adventure, and it looks just bloody fantastic.

Co-op Play: Alive 4-ever RETURNS supports four-player co-op play over WiFi, with Bluetooth support coming in an update. Who doesn’t like that? Too bad you can’t play online, though. Your buddies need to be close at hand to join up.

Dislikes:

More of the same: Wonderful as it is, Alive 4-ever RETURNS really is more of the same. If you weren’t keen on the first one, this second isn’t likely to grab you. The copious refinements are welcome and make this a fantastic release, but it’s only good this one time. When the inevitable Alive 4-ever RETURNS AGAIN hits, they’d better do something to mix things up, else the game will begin to wear thin.

The Story: Alive 4-ever RETURNS doesn’t always make the most sense. The story is atrocious, riddled with grammar mistakes and full of weird crap like subterranean subway stations on Californian resort isles opening up into undeveloped forests. I don’t even know why they bothered to write a story beyond, “Zombies! Kill’em!” In a way I can appreciate the effort, but when you’re cruisin’, why throw caltrops in front of your own wheels?

Just in case I haven’t driven the point enough by now, I’ll say it again: Alive 4-ever RETURNS is a step up from its predecessor, which was already a good game in its own right. Dual-stick shooters on the app store are much like zombies; they come in droves, slavering not for your brains, but for your dollars. There are so many, they threaten to overwhelm you, and so many so similar to the others. Alive 4-ever RETURNS manages to trump most of the competition by offering immense depth of character development, a massive assortment of weapons and other enhancements, and enough content to keep you engaged and busy for some time to come. If you’re a fan of the dual-stick shooter or of zombie games in general, Alive 4-ever RETURNS should be at the top of your shopping list.

Alive 4-ever RETURNS is currently available for $1.99, a 60% discount on its standard price. Get it while the gettin’s good. Developed by Meridian, and reviewed at version 1.0 on an iPhone 3G.


Twin Blades Review: Busty, violent nuns? Yes, please.

Back it on up there, Woody. This week’s Zombie Kill of the Week goes to Sister Angelika for putting three rounds into a zombie’s head, setting it on fire with a flamethrower, and then severing its head clean off using her massive scythe. And she gets bonus points for looking good doing it, because what — I ask you, WHAT?! — is hotter than a nun in a blood-smearing habit, baring serious cleavage, bearing a soul purifying reaper’s scythe and a large assortment of firearms?! Nothing, that’s what. And so, Woody, you can smack as many zombies as you want with a banjo and be as funny as you like about, but it’s Sister Angelika — sweet, soul Sister Angelika — that’s going to be winning Zombie Kill of the Week, every week, from now on.

Sister Angelika is the protagonist in Twin Blades: The Reaping Vanguard, a side-scrolling zombie slasher from Bulkypix. The game plays similarly to Zombieville U.S.A., but keeps a faster pace and mixes things up a little with a dual-weapon mechanic. The game’s simple story gets the job done: zombies have begun to overrun the region and Father Richiardo dispatches Sister Angelika — who has apparently been trained in this sort of thing — to track down and eliminate the cause of the infestation.

The game’s two pillars are its constant pace and its magnificent artwork. Twin Blades’ hand-drawn backgrounds and sprites are stunning to behold, and zombie deaths are rendered with much variety and detail. The variety is very welcome, as you will kill literally thousands of zombies during the course of the game. If they all died the same all the time, it would get old quick. Depending on how you kill them, zombies will keel over, their heads will explode or be cut off, they will be ripped in twain at the waist with their entrails dangling, their charred corpses will crumple to the ground, or their fleshless bones will scatter …

Which raises another point: Despite its lovely, Disney-like appearance, Twin Blades is not a game for children. Killing zombies is incredibly gory business, and the game isn’t shy about blood, often spattering your display with it while you fight. Conservative gamers may not appreciate the sex-appeal with which Sister Angelika is drawn, or the violence she exudes. Mother Theresa Angelika is not; instead, she’s part Dante from Devil May Cry and part Grim Reaper, and drawn to be equal parts nun, Japanese school-girl and sexy kunoichi. The story also implies that Sister Angelika may be involved in a scandalous lesbian relationship with another sister of the order. To wit, the game gropes with several adult themes. Some will find so much kinkiness a part of the game’s charm, while others will see it as blasphemy that such a character and premise are wrapped in the garb of the sisterhood. And despite Angelika’s big, soft anime eyes, let it be said again that this is not a game for children.

During the course of  her investigation, Sister Angelika will visit several areas including her monestary, the town and town market, a forest, a lake and more. Cleared areas will become re-infested as the days and nights pass, and players will find themselves often returning to previously cleared areas to put down the zombies once more. The repetition of constantly revisiting previous areas is mostly alleviated, though, by the game being so damn pretty, by the nonstop onslaught of zombies, by alternation of Angelika’s weaponry, and because every zombie killed allows you to harvest its heart, which can later be spent with Father Richiardo to upgrade Angelika’s abilities and arsenal.

In combat, Angelika simultaneously wields her scythe and chosen gun. You can change Angelika’s equipped firearm by swiping the screen during play. Firing guns consumes weapon energy, represented by the blue orb in the upper-left corner of the display. Slaying zombies with her soul-purifying scythe replenishes that weapon energy, allowing Angelika to keep on shooting. It’s important then to carefully manage your attacks in combat to ensure you will have ammunition when you need it most, and also to spread out your character upgrades so that Angelika retains a good balance between her melee and gun attacks; dumping all of your points into powerful guns will do you little good when you run out of ammo and have to rely on the scythe that you’ve never bothered to upgrade. The first few scythe upgrades will also extend Angelika’s melee prowess from a single strike up to a three-hit combo, which is very helpful indeed. Zombies will either strike Angelika, or latch onto her and continually drain her health. When a zombie is holding on, players need to shake their device to free themselves from the zombies’ grasps.

Likes:

Artwork: Twin Blades’ hand-drawn art is a treat. The backgrounds are lush, colorful and detailed, and coming in both day and night versions. The characters are excellently designed and animated, and exude personality. While the zombies behave similarly, they come in a multitude of looks and outfits, and also have a lot of personality. Zombies attack wearing shirts and ties, Hawaiin shirts, camo pants and more; some will armor themselves with kitchen pots and other scraps of metal,  or wield frying pans and other weapons. For each weapon that Angelika uses, the zombies have different death animations which are a lot of fun to see. Even the blood and guts are well-drawn.

Music: Twin Blades features an original soundtrack largely comprised of synth drums and string arrangements. The music is quite good, and makes fine accompaniment for the zombie carnage that it scores.

Combat: The interchange between firearms and scythe is nicely done, with guns draining energy and melee attacks restoring it. In this way the game forces the player to change up their tactics, rather than becoming over-reliant on a single weapon. Once the difficulty begins to ramp up after the first few stages, combat becomes pretty frantic and requires fast reflexes and quick decisions to prevent your being overwhelmed. With the game being fairly repetitive in nature, it’s good that the developers put a little spice into the combat system.

Upgrades: As you progress through the game, the zombies become both more numerous and more resilient. Luckily, Sister Angelika can take the zombie hearts she’s reaped back to the monastery to spend them as currency for upgrades. Angelika begins the game with only a pistol, but five other weapons are available for purchase: machine gun, explosive gun, flamethrower, ice gun and the holy beam. For abilities, Angelika may upgrade her health, energy storage, the amount of energy drained by melee attacks or the overall strength of the scythe. The first two upgrades to the scythe will extend Angelika’s combo chain, and she can also purchase a jump attack. Weapons and abilities may be upgraded to five levels.

Developer Dedication: Twin Blades has been out now several months. I downloaded it when it first appeared, but quickly tired of it. The artwork was stellar, but the game forced you to run through the same few areas in a loop, fighting zombies until you died. It was a survival game with no story, no end and no clear goal, and it left much to be desired. Several updates have been made to the game, however, adding new locations and a complete Story mode featuring new characters, a stage selection map, boss fights and more. With so much new content, Twin Blades has well justified its existence. I’m just glad the developers continued to push the game to realize its potential. And for those who want it, the game still includes a separate Survival mode.

Dislikes:

Repetitive: Whatever else Bulkypix might have done to add variety to the game — six weapons and five abilities to upgrade, a variety of cool death animations, day and night cycles, different zombie costumes, a combat system combining ranged and melee attacks, etc. — there’s no getting around the fact that the game is repetitive. You will be required to revisit the same areas over and over again, and there are only two zombie types in the game — armored and not armored — wearing different clothes. Aside from the boss fights, you will spend the entire game running from left to right, killing hoards of the same two zombies. This will surely annoy some gamers more than others, but I wouldn’t fault the game for this too much, as it seems to be the nature of the genre.

Jumping: For the most part, Twin Blades’ controls work really well. The part that doesn’t work is the jumping, which is done using the same virtual joystick as running. You have to be careful not to jump accidentally while moving, and if you intend to jump, you might have difficulty controlling the jump, whether you’re trying to jump straight up to execute an attack, or jump away to escape a pile of zombies. This issue could easily be fixed by added a separate jump button to the control scheme.

In the few short months since its release, Twin Blades has grown immensely. The new Story mode really makes the game worthwhile, and I hope the developers will continue to flesh the game out with additional content. I even have a wish-list for updates I’d like to see. Because artwork is such an integral part of the game, I’d like to see more of it. New costumes for Angelika would be awesome. It would also be great if there were a new story mode in which players could play as Angelika’s lover, Magdalena, to follow her part of the story. Of course, I’d want to see multiple costumes for her as well. Telling Magdalena’s tale could also allow the developers to include new locations, zombies and bosses without having to change Angelika’s story. Finally, an option for a separate jump button would be awesome.

Wishful thinking aside, Twin Blades stacks up pretty well against similar titles such as Zombieville U.S.A. and Inkvaders. If anything, Twin Blades outshines those games with prettier artwork, faster pacing and a better combat mechanic. And so, without further adieu, the verdict:

Twin Blades: The Reaping Vanguard is a great button-masher, and one of the prettiest games in the app store. Visually, it reminds me of games like Odin Sphere on PS2 and Muramasa: The Demon Blade on Wii. If you’re into action games, and unperturbed by the game’s kinky and violent representation of the church and its sisterhood, Twin Blades is well worth the price of admission.

Twin Blades: The Reaping Vanguard is developed by Bulkypix, and sells for $2.99. Reviewed at version 1.1.0 on an iPhone 3G. The only thing I don’t get is where the “twin” in Twin Blades comes in. I see the scythe; that’s one blade …


Pro Zombie Soccer Hands-on Preview

Pro Zombie Soccer is a zombie exterminating game with a twist. Instead of using any explosive, weapons, or firearms, you kick your soccer ball to stop the incoming hordes of bloodthirsty zombies.  Our main character has already been bitten, but is fighting to survive as long as possible.  Pro Zombie Soccer is being developed by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, which includes people who have worked on games such as Plants Vs Zombies, Worms, Wheelman, and Eyetoy Play, just to name a few.  The price has yet to be determined, but I can tell you that you will want to own this game.  Watch for the release within the coming months, but pray for it to be tomorrow.

Killing zombies hasn’t ever been this fun or creative.  With a whole new spin on the genre, the ball hurtles through the air blasting their bodies… if you aim correctly.  Your character is positioned on the left side of the screen, while many different types of zombies walk and run towards you.  Some of them are quite large, and that’s when charging your kick comes into play.  If you wait for your kick, it’ll get more powerful, and will stop the enemies who are too tough to be destroyed by one small kick.  Often they will lose an arm, and you’ll just have to kick it again to finish them off.  Another fun part of this game is that when you get combos or headshots, or just kill lots of zombies, you can unlock temporary powerups.  One makes the ball move faster for a short period of time, the next pierces through multiple enemies, and the last lets your target them with a rogue satellite, disintegrating each corpse by aiming with your accelerometer.

Graphically PZS is quite pleasing, with a nice spurt of blood emanating from each dismembered zombie.  Limbs fly off, heads burst, and other body parts disintegrate, leaving severed corpses still wandering towards you with hungry determination.  Each zombie sprite is very creative, and some can be quite amusing.  The cartoony and stylized graphics leave nothing to be desired.

The controls are quite simple, requiring only one finger and rarely using the accelerometer. All you do is simply slide your finger up and down to aim, and hold a bit longer to charge up the ball. I found this to be very easy and fast to pick up. Along with the great controls, the soundtrack to this game is killer. Driving drums, overdriven guitars, and intense string sounds deliver the perfect mood setting for destroying zombies.

Pro Zombie Soccer is an intense and fun game with lots of enjoyment to be had. Kicking a soccer ball to kill a zombie is an unbelievably creative idea, which has evolved into an amazing piece of work. A well-written storyline accompanies this great game, which will have players feeling even more immersed in their zombie killing fun. Here’s a hands-on preview video I’ve recorded.

Garters & Ghouls Review: Zombies are so hot right now. Zombies.

Halloween is just around the corner, meaning fun times for guys and ghouls of all ages. And while the kiddies have narrowed their focus to candy, the thing most on the minds of guys this time of year is hot undead chicks. Everyone wants a corpse bride of their very own, and to experience the sort of undying love that fairytales are made of. Namco has obviously had one ear to the ground — or maybe they’ve just been listening from deep within the ground, in their graves — and have reanimated one hot dead-butante just in time for the spookiest of days.

Garters & Ghouls clawed its way out of the earth and into the App Store last evening, the latest in a long run of Halloween-themed releases. And while the App Store is now rife with zombie shooters, it’s definitely been lacking in sexy zombies. Garters & Ghouls makes up for this by introducing zombie-protagonist Marie Dupois, raised from the dead — in her garters! — by a man of immediately questionable intentions to combat an evil known as the Thrum. Playing as Marie, you are tasked to destroy the portals in each of 25 levels through which the Thrum are summoning zombies, werewolves and other supernatural denizens into the world.

Garters & Ghouls is a dual-stick shooter similar to releases such as iDracula, MiniGore and Alive-4-Ever, and also bears similarities to the arcade classic Gauntlet. What sets the game apart from its kin, though, is its level progression and narrative. So load your guns, tighten your corset and hike up your garters! It’s zombie killing time!

Likes:

Marie Dupois: Never look a gift horse in the mouth, nor an undead hotbox clad in a red corset and garters. Sex sells on Halloween, and Namco knows it. If you can get past her perfume — eau de decay — she may just be the zombie-slayer of your dreams.

Level Progression & Narrative: Far too many dual-stick shooters rely on survival and arena mechanics; far too few actually give you levels to explore. By their very nature, dual-stick shooters can be repetitive. Implementing level progression gives the player tangible goals, changing scenery and a story to follow, greatly alleviating the repetition of zombie-kill after zombie-kill. Garters & Ghouls offers 25 levels through creepy locales, and probably the deepest plot of any dual-stick shooter on the App Store.

Upgrades & Achievements: As you progress through the game, you will collect money from fallen foes that can be spent in the Steam Queen shops to buy upgrades for Marie, including enhancements to movement speed, weapon damage, health and more. There are also a healthy number of achievements to be gained for things like shooting 30 zombies without missing a shot, wasting multiple opponents in a single attack, etc. Taken as one, upgrades and achievements give you much to strive for while you play.

Dislikes:

Controls: The controls for dual-stick shooters are pretty standard; left stick controls movement, and right stick controls firing direction. Perhaps a side-effect of the reanimation process, but Marie’s controls feel stiff and jerky, rather than smooth and silky. Have you ever seen a graceful zombie? But while the control issues may be explained away using the story, they just don’t make for good gameplay. Marie can move and shoot in 20 directions; that means you can send a bullet in a straight line at only 20 points in a possible 360 degrees. The result is that you will often miss your targets because you’re not perfectly in line with them. It leaves enemies and portals feeling very two-dimensional and hard-to-hit. The portals are huge, and should not be so difficult to hit. What’s more, the portals lack effective impact response, making it difficult to know whether or not you are hitting them at all. Why indie developers can release games like iDracula and MiniGore with controls that feel smooth, fluid and responsive, and a major game publisher like Namco cannot … well, I will just never know.

Weapons: The first time you pick up the grenade launcher in iDracula and realize its destructive potential, you smile, sound in the knowledge that you are now equipped to unleash a whole new world of hurt upon your opponents. And the grenade launcher in iDracula is only a mid-level weapon. The first time I picked up the grenade launcher in Garters & Ghouls, however, I was disappointed. “Huh? That’s it?” The grenade launcher feels more like a pebble launcher, and if the grenades are disappointing, do you think the lower-level shot gun or machine gun are built to impress? They’re not. The shot gun is a wide pebble launcher, and the machine gun is a fast pebble launcher. Namco really dropped the ball on the game’s weapons. Weapons in a game like this need to feel bad-ass; weapons in Garters & Ghouls just feel bad.

Repetitive: While the level progression, changing scenery, narrative, upgrades and achievements do much to alleviate feelings of repetition, the fact remains that from level-to-level, your primary goal is to survive the horde while taking down portals. You’re always doing the same thing.

Crashes: It may just be that my iPhone is being overwhelmed by the alluring power of the corset and garters combo, but this game crashes a lot. Let’s hope Namco makes stability improvements in an update.

Garters & Ghouls nails the Halloween vibe, but falters somewhat in gameplay. While the level progression and narrative help to make the game unique, there is a lot of room for improvement. By comparison, Alive-4-Ever innovated in its genre by introducing different types of objectives for each level, and by specifying trophy objectives. iDracula, also nailing the Halloween vibe, defined the genre early in the App Store’s life with its solid controls, excellent system of upgrades and shiny presentation. The nail in the proverbial coffin is the price. At $4.99, Garters & Ghouls offers little in terms of gameplay that cannot be found in Alive-4-Ever or iDracula, titles that sell for $2.99 and $0.99 respectively. On the other hand, it is nice to see an entry in the genre with a focus on story, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Marie is the hottest zombie in the App Store. If you’ve already taken your fill of iDracula and Alive-4-Ever, and you’re on the prowl for a new shooter this Halloween, Garters & Ghouls is worth a look.

worthalook

Garters & Ghouls is developed by Namco Networks America Inc., is available for $4.99 and was reviewed at version 1.0.0 on an iPhone 3G.

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