There’s something you need to know about me: I love portable gaming. Ever since I bought my first Gameboy used from a friend in high school and caught my first Pokemon (guys, Squirtle. Squirtle.), I’ve been hooked. Ask my wife how obsessed I became with my imported Gameboy Advance (sure, it cost me seventy-five dollars more than the American version, but I got to play that thing like three whole months before you did!), I’m serious about playing games on the go.
These days our choices are pretty damned varied when it comes to playing games anywhere; with Android and iOS games on our phones, tablet games, and the ever present Nintendo and Sony handheld systems — we can play pretty much wherever we want.
There’s a schism in the core gaming community regarding the abilities (or lack thereof) of a real gaming experience on smartphones. It’s a debate I can’t really take a side in since I game on almost all of these devices and can see the issues on both sides. The thing is, sometimes I will begin playing a game and love it so much that I will overlook some issues, especially with iOS gaming. That’s the case with today’s game: Zombieville USA 2.
I purchased Zombieville USA 2 before the holidays but hadn’t really bothered to play it until recently. Once I started playing it I found myself captivated and playing it nonstop for hours at a time. I’ve hit what I believe is my saturation point with the game and so I wanted to give you an idea of what I think of this game.
Zombieville USA 2 comes from the fine folks at Mika Mobile who previously brought us Battleheart (a charming little pseudo-RPG with some sketchy touch controls). In Zombieville you control an onscreen avatar (that you can change by purchasing new skins with in-game currency) as he or she battles throngs of INVADING ALIENS — just kidding, of course it’s zombies.
What makes this game addicting is the character upgrade path. When you defeat enemies or loot the environment you can find money. You then use this money to buy weapons (each having it’s own unique stats and performance quirks) or buy perks. Think Call of Duty 4, only you pay for the perks and pay to upgrade them. These perks can do any number of things from making enemies drop more cash to allowing you to regenerate health. You can only equip three weapons and three perks so you have to manage what you want your character to do versus what the level of infection (I.E. the number of enemies that you’ll face) is for a level.
It’s that customization that has kept me coming back to Zombieville USA 2 in spite of all of the games myriad issues. Like for instance: the onscreen controls. Unlike Battleheart (which had your party auto attack and controlled with swipes of your finger), Zombieville USA 2 utilizes onscreen buttons and “analog” joystick. What this means is that you will always be obscuring some portion of the screen with your fingers and when you are facing a high level of infection in a level this can often times lead to your death. Also, like is common with these types of control, with no tactile feedback from the screen, they are very inaccurate. I loathe these virtual buttons, so the fact that I’ve played as much as I have should give you an indication of how much I enjoy the rest of the game.
The game is a Universal app on iOS, so you only have to buy it once and you’ll be able to play on both the iPad and iPhone. I found the controls to obscure much less of the bigger iPad screen, but the game didn’t feel as easy to play while holding the iPad like a big controller. Zombieville USA 2 also includes iCloud support, so if you are playing on your phone and want to switch to another iDevice it will instantly remember your weapon and perk load outs and how much money you have. It’s a very nice addition.
Outside of the perk and weapon customization the game, unfortunately, has very little depth. There are nine levels of infection with three different types of environments (residential, mall, and commercial) with very small changes between the levels, meaning you’ll be seeing the same stuff over and over again. These isn’t a campaign to speak of, no story or specific missions — you basically run from left to right until a timer runs out and you escape the level. You do this over and over again until…well, until you get sick of it. It plays sort of like an ‘E’ or ‘T’ rated Left 4 Dead built on smartphones without most of the charm of that title.
The levels (depending on the difficulty level) usually last from three to five minutes which makes this a decent game to play if you’ve just got a couple of minutes to waste during you commute or before class.
Zombieville USA 2 does include co-op missions, but I’ve been unable to test these out.
All said, for ninety-nine cents you certainly could do worse for a quick gaming session. I certainly had enough fun with it. But if you cannot overlook virtual controls, Zombieville USA 2 isn’t going to change your mind.