Despite scraping the bottom of the undead barrel, the zombie rollercoaster continues on iPhone and iPod touch unabated.
Reanimated corpses are clearly big business these days, as Zombie Crisis 3D proves. This gruesome game tasks you with eradicating the slavering legions with a range of deadly weaponry.
The first-person viewpoint may draw forth visions of a Call of Duty-style zombie slayer, but the action in Zombie Crisis 3D occurs entirely on-rails. In fact, it has more in common with one of the first games to truly popularise the genre: SEGA’s seminal 1996 coin-op hit House of the Dead.
On the rails
Your character stalks around each level on a set path, with your only input being the direction of gunfire. Discharging your weapon is a matter of tapping the screen, while reloading is accomplished by either touching the icon in the bottom-right corner of the display or shaking your device.
Three different weapons are available for your zombie-killing delectation. The standard handgun is the one you rely on the most - although it’s the weakest of the three, it has unlimited ammunition and reloads quickly.
The shotgun is capable of taking out multiple enemies in a single blast, but takes longer to reload than the handgun. Finally, there’s the machine gun, which delivers a sustained rate of fire and is perfect for crowd-control and boss encounters. Of course, ammo is harder to come by.
Unsurprisingly, your main enemy is zombies. These come in several different flavours including ones in nurse uniforms and mutated monkey cross-breeds, which are the result of twisted experiments.
Almost all of these shambling fiends can be killed instantly with a well-aimed shot, although additional points are awarded if you pop the cranium with an accurate blast.
Handle with care
It’s not just your weapons that can be used to keep the undead horde at bay. Explosive barrels are capable of clearing an entire room of zombies should you time your shot right. Caution is advised because the blast also damages you if you’re too close at the time of detonation.
Also spread around each level are wooden crates, some of which yield useful items when shattered. Ammo is the most common pick-up, but health packs are often a more welcome sight, especially during battles with stubborn boss characters.
These occur at set points throughout the game, and involve identifying the enemy’s weak spot and reading its pattern of attack in order to locate safe reload points.
At the end of each section you’re rated on your performance. Much of the game’s appeal lies in bettering your score, particularly given its integration with Game Center.
Still, repeated tapping grows old quickly, and other than the occasional change of scenery there’s little to differentiate one grimy locale from the next.Stiff as a board
Matters aren’t helped by the often grubby presentation. The game runs at a jerky pace and the zombies animate in a stiff way. This might seem like a compliment when you consider the general awkwardness of your average walking corpse, but it isn’t.
The zombie models aren’t even all that detailed, boasting box-like designs which wouldn’t look out of place in a 32-bit console title.
Polish has been applied liberally elsewhere – the opening cut-scene, for example – but the core game just feels rushed and half-baked.
There’s not enough variety, and aside from the occasionally fraught boss fights the challenge is limited. Boosting the difficulty level mitigates this problem slightly, but fails to remedy the samey blasting experience.
It’s fair to say that in order to stand out from the slavering hordes of iPhone zombie games you need something a little bit special, but unfortunately Zombie Crisis 3D doesn’t have that magical ingredient.