Zombie Stampede, based on its moniker, sounds like some undead adventure that lives and breathes in the Wild Wild West. Although there are no cowboys or rolling tumbleweeds that pass your way, this free to play app does have enough showdowns to keep your trigger finger itchy and raring to go at a moment's notice.

One of the keys to infusing a bit of life into a well worn genre is to create a slightly different element to keep fans coming back for more, and on that note, Zombie Stampede completely shines. By bringing a card element into the equation, players can recruit hunters into their zombie slaughtering crew, with each fighter carrying their own distinct set of skill sets. This app's main joy may be derived from the pure act of killing, but I've also had my share of pleasure figuring out which random card to choose after my missions.

You can purchase cards by points you earn during your escapades, and depending on your luck, you will either unlock a new warrior or skill points that are apportioned to one of your soldiers. As much as I love upping my attack or defense abilities, adding an extra member to your party should always be the preferred choice. With several waves of hungry flesh eaters at one’s doorstep, having a full arsenal of fighters is a must.

Namco Bandai

The actual game is extremely easy to pick up, as you'll just touch the desired zombie target and unleash a round of gunfire into the undead's body. Tactical maneuvers are also available during the combat, as you will tap the screen to switch certain fighters' locations. For example, if one of your soldiers is low on health, have him switch with a member who's positioned at the back of your deployment.

After killing zombies, they will emit a green juice that you will collect in a trash can. Once you swipe your trash can and slide your finger in the direction of the juice, all that green stuff goes directly into the bin. The juice is mandatory for survival during later stages in the game, as it amplifies your players' skill sets, thereby strengthening their resistance to the zombies.

Namco Bandai

To upgrade your characters, you will place your zombie killers into a washing machine and equip them with various items that increase their various skill sets or overall experience points. For optimal upgrades, you will match a person’s color scheme with an item that has the same color. As your warrior and selected items are chosen, place them into the machine and watch them spin.

Along with the randomized card unveiling, the laundromat upgrade feature is completely out of left field and, in the end, an entirely inspired creative choice. Even if killing zombies can get a tad monotonous, I trudge on, knowing that whatever coins I earn enables a washing and dry upgrade for my intrepid gunslingers.

Namco Bandai

Although it runs on a freemium model, Zombie Stampede doesn't ask for your money upfront, and there's a ton of gameplay to be had before you run out of energy. To continue your play, you need to have enough juice to move on, but thankfully this juice replenishes at a solid clip. I've played Zombie Stampede for over several hours, and I never felt the free to play constraints hamper my overall experience.

Although Zombie Stampede can be a enjoyed as a simple touch and tap shooter, but it also brings an extra level of nuance with its card character elements and nuanced upgrade systems. This is an app that will stay on my iPad for the coming weeks and considering the transitory aspect of iOS gaming, that's a huge compliment for these walking dead.

This review is based on a downloaded copy of Zombie Stampede for iOS.

App Store Link: Zombie Stampede for iPhone & iPad | By NamcoBandai Games Inc. | Price: Free | Version: 1.001 | 76.1 MB | Rating 17+

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating