It’s hard to escape the hype surrounding a new Call of Duty game.
It starts with competitors ragging on the previous title in the series, escalates into interviews with Infinity Ward/Treyarch, and culminates with posters stuck on every bus and lodged in-between programmes your girlfriend likes to watch (much to her annoyance).
That’s true in console-world, at least. On mobile, Call of Duty just seems to appear out of nowhere - no fanfare, no interviews, and definitely no adverts.
Which is a bit strange when you think about it. It’s not that BLOPS: Zombies (as it shall henceforth be called) is a ‘bad’ game. It may not be the complete Call of Duty experience on mobile, but as a straight mobile port of the main game’s additional mode it does its job very well.
And I was told you were the best
The aim is, as always with Zombies, to survive for as long as possible against waves of the living dead before you and up to three other comrades are inevitably cut down by the horde - all the while buying weapons from walls and activating traps if you’re a beginner, or downing perk sodas and Pack-A-Punching your guns (upgrading, essentially) if you know what you’re doing.
That’s the beauty of Zombies. While it may come across as a simple reaction test at first, with an emphasis on repairing defences and opening doors to other areas in the map when you get overwhelmed, extended play moves the focus onto managing ammo and upgrades over blind, panicked shooting.
Ideaworks hasn’t messed with the formula. In fact, the team has done another sterling job in keeping the Zombies experience as close to the console version as possible.
The enemies aren’t quite as fast as before, and you can no longer diving-jump down the spiral staircase on Kino der Toten (or even just jump, for that matter), but almost everything else from the main game remains intact.
Enemy spy-plane detected
Control-wise, not much has changed since World At War: Zombies, with Touch being the default (and best), Tilt being infuriatingly inaccurate (as usual), and Twin Stick being effectively the same as Touch.
The autoaim is extremely generous, with my headshot tally hitting 200 on my first playthrough (out of 340 kills), but the lack of any gun-brandishing foes actually helps to mask the inherently inaccurate nature of touchscreen FPS controls.
One thing that does rankle, however, is the removal of the option to use a dedicated ‘fire’ button. BLOPS: Zombies instead runs with the ‘tap to fire’ method that, while okay for single/burst fire weapons, doesn’t activate automatic fire properly when backpedalling.
On the flip side, this does mean the Magnum actually serves a purpose now, although that’s not so great when you hit Wave 30 and have hundreds of the blighters bearing down on you.
Friendly Apache inbound
Disappointingly, BLOPS: Zombies only comes with one ‘proper’ map - the aforementioned Kino - half of what the console version had on release and even less then that when you factor in the subsequent DLC.
To be fair to the game, Kino is a far better map than anything offered up in World at War, with clever rooms designed for maximum panic-inducing standoffs (don’t try and hold out in the dressing room or alleyway), and a satisfying, if relatively simple, system for accessing the fabled Pack-A-Punch machine.
The re-appearance of the ‘fetch me their souls’ demonic dogs and addition of ‘crawler’ zombies that explode with view-obscuring NOVA gas add a bit of spice to proceedings. But despite the quality of the map design, it’s hard to shake the feeling that one level for £4.99/$6.99 is a bit on the steep side.
The bomb has been planted
To be fair, there’s also Dead Arcade, a bizarre twin-stick arcade-shooter included as a hidden extra in the main game.
Unfortunately, Dead Arcade comes across as a bolt-on in gameplay terms, with an overhead view that’s too zoomed-out to be useful and pacing that will likely make you want to kill yourself (virtually, I mean) before the enemy does.
Indeed, one of the main complaints I have with both versions of Zombies is that once you get to a certain level of skill (or, in the case of Dead Arcade, as soon as you start a game) there’s simply no challenge for a good 30-60 minutes of gameplay.
This is an issue that affected the console version as well. It’s just a shame that Ideaworks didn’t, or wasn’t given leeway to, correct this.
Thankfully, there’s always the co-op to keep you interested, this time using Game Center for local and online match-ups.
Or at least there would be if the online mode worked. Alas, at the time of writing the servers were down, which meant I couldn't test out this portion of the game.
Nevertheless, BLOPS: Zombies is an expensive, but fairly accurate, port of the Zombies mode from Black Ops.
It’s not going to suddenly convince anyone who hated it before - in fact the sticky auto-fire is likely to annoy a fair few who liked it, too - but unlike Modern Combat 3 it's not a game trying to be something it can’t possibly match.
Rather than being a little bit like having Call of Duty on your phone, it's like having a little bit of Call of Duty on your phone. Which is infinitely preferable.