You'd think that eventually zombie taste buds would evolve, and they'd stop lusting after brains so much.
How good can they really be?
Nevertheless, zombies are again coming for our brains in Alive 4-Ever RETURNS, the latest in a long line of iPhone zombie escapades.
While the majority of these zombie games aren't worth a moment of your attention, the Alive 4-Ever series has been a rare bright spot in the undead action uprising.
The original's fantastic top-down, twin-stick shooting action was second to none.Resting on rotting laurels
The sequel reinstates all of these qualities perfectly, including the four-way Bluetooth co-op mode, and remains a compelling game simply because of that. Yet, not enough new content has been added to make this a truly must-have purchase.
It's not exactly the same game - far from it - but the new material seems more like lateral movement than pushing the series forward.
Most of the game remains unchanged save for a few key alterations. Each of the 40 challenge levels consists of brief episodes during which you have to complete an objective such as rescuing a civilian, defeating a boss monster, or surviving an onslaught of zombified enemies.
As you complete missions, you're able to upgrade your character's attributes and acquire new weapons - 37 in total - for beating back the zombie masses.
This light role-playing element gives Alive 4-ever RETURNS much needed depth, enabling the game to be more than just a mindless twin-stick shooter.Second to one
Every level has secondary objectives that challenge you to complete the level in a more difficult way. For example, you might be challenged to stockpile gold bullion before getting around to your main goal of rescuing some survivors. Extra money is then rewarded which can then be used to buy new guns and abilities.
As with the ability to enhance your character's attributes, it adds a very welcome layer of depth. Without it, every mission would be a quick smash-and-grab type of affair.
Furthermore, it allows for customisation of the difficulty level. If you're not challenged by the basic mission parameters, you're able to make it harder on yourself by going for those secondary goals.Modern zombies
The most substantial change from the original can be seen in the increased speed of combat. Things are much faster here and as a result, Alive 4-ever RETURNS feels more like the fast-paced twin-stick shooter that iy appears to be in the screenshots.
That an alteration in the tempo of combat is the biggest difference between the two games highlights how little this sequel offers.
Shooting zombies in the face remains as fun as it always has been and the RPG leveling adds a great extra layer of customisation. Yet, there's a distinct sense of an opportunity missed. This is a sequel pitched far too close to the original and lacks the wealth of new features and content normally expected of a follow up.
If this is your first experience with the Alive 4-Ever games then you're in for a treat, but if you played a lot of the original then you might be turned off by the lack of new features.
There's a lot to love about this game, but the brains are starting to get a little stale.