With the surge of zombie-based forms of entertainment over the past few years, we have encountered our fair share of both good and bad zombie iOS games (mainly bad). Previously known for his Zombie Train and Temples of the Sun iOS games, Jacques Deul and his team at Van Der Veer Games have not only made a zombie-apocalypse game, but a tactical one. Is the strategic experience of War of the Zombie worth buying, or should we put a round to its head and burn it with the rest?
War of the Zombies is a pseudo real-time strategy game. It's tough to classify this game as an RTS because there's so much going on with the world map that its hard to tell what it is you are actually competing with in terms of strategy. The RTS aspect mainly comes into play with War of the Zombies' over-encumbered world map and its Safe Team gameplay.
After a short introductory sequence, you're put in charge of an aircraft carrier that can traverse the entire world and set anchor in hundreds of predetermined areas. Throughout the world are hundreds of country governments that you must interact with in order to prevent the zombie apocalypse. This is where War of the Zombies becomes a bit overambitious and focuses on areas that do not make sense. The game's description tells us that you must try to prevent the zombie outbreak, but you have the ability to purposely infect entire countries. Since the game starts you off in a world where the zombie outbreak is extremely isolated and small, it feels as if you're the main factor in spreading it, which undermines the point of the game according to its official description. So what is the ultimate point of this game? Just to accumulate dollars and resources for your squad on an aircraft carrier?
Players have the ability to bribe, scavenge, defend, infect and nuke the various countries of the world, but I felt that this game hardly explains why you would side with one country over another. Is there any reason bribe or defend Kazakhstan instead of infect it? I'm not even sure.
War of the Zombie's main strategic experiences stem from its Safe Team missions, where you must control four marines in order to rescue VIPs. You can split your team however you'd like: separate them into duos and send them to opposite ends of the map, move them out one at a time or keep them all in a group of four. I preferred to move them as a group of four mainly because going back and forth across the map to find your guys seems tedious. Furthermore, the unit selection system should have been a bit more user-friendly so that players could switch between characters/duos on the fly. It's rather frustrating to try and send two characters to one side of town, and another pair to the other side, only to find one member running through town to the opposite end simply because you have improperly selected units from the list of four on the bottom of the screen, which is an easy mistake to make in this game. This forces you to take that extra second and confirm that you have the characters you want selected, and in terms of RTS-like gameplay, that extra second matters. You also have the ability to call down missile strikes in order to help clear paths.
The graphics of these parts are both good and bad. The helicopter and rooftops look amazing from the camera's perspective, but the players, zombies (just red-colored guys), and the insides of every building are all bland. At first, these graphics reminded me of Grand Theft Auto 2. But once you go through one level of War of the Zombie, all the rooftops and cities start to look exactly the same after just 30 minutes of gameplay.
The sound effects and music are downright horrible. The first few times I heard a voice, I honestly could not tell if my marines were talking or if the zombies were groaning.
There are numerous bugs and glitches that should be mentioned for those playing on the iPod 4 and iPad 1. While I did not encounter any game-breaking bugs while playing on the iPad 2, I had to take note of the INCOMING INTEL screen that would pop up numerous times to the point of absurdity. Why does it pop up all the time? Let me explain.
In War of the Zombie, I would constantly move in a group of four simply because it was annoying to constantly select and deselect units in order to split up my team; every time I did it, there would always be a bit of a mix up of who was where. As a result, I would constantly keep my marines together as a group. I don't know if they were aiming for realism or not, but the insides of building (nothing fancy, just the roof removed and you can see into the room) are tiny. Each time one of your squad members comes across a new weapon, you get an intel notification pop-up.This happens each time one of your characters comes into contact with a gun. Due to the small quarters of every indoor area, I would find myself exiting out the intel notification up to twenty times, simply because my guys walked into a room that had a gun in it and all four characters were on it.
War of the Zombie is an overambitious zombie-based strategy game that should have focused on perfecting its squad-based gameplay before it even started moving out into the world map. While the abilities to interact with the various countries of the world is detailed and leaves lots of options in terms of who to ally with and who to purposely stifle, I felt that it wasn't all that effective in terms of fun. The funnest parts of this game were the squad missions, but they ultimately become very repetitive.
If the Van Der Veer team would have focused on adding variety and more depth to the squad missions, this game would have been a much better experience. No matter how ravaged the world map gets, it feels as if there is no actual ending or point to it. For its $2.99 price tag, I would only suggest this to only the most hardcore of zombie-game lovers, but honestly, there are much better undead titles to play for that price.