Game Reviews

World Zombination

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World Zombination

I first played World Zombination back in July 2014, when it was in soft-launch, for a hands-on video on AppSpy.

Part tower defence and part strategy management, World Zombination piqued my curiosity even then, and now that it's been launched globally I've a chance to return to it.

So I thought what I'd do is play it over the course of seven days to see if it's worth you spending your time and money on, and then reporting back my findings.

You okay with that?

Good. Let's get started.

First impressions

I think the opening tutorial has been changed since the soft-launch, as I don't recall the game explaining its gameplay systems quite so clearly last time.

After picking a side (I chose the humans, but you can play as the zombie horde too), World Zombination steadily gets you up to speed.

It's your task as the non-undead to defend your position against the recently re-alive, utilising the abilities of several unit types by placing them in strategically advantageous positions on the field of battle.

Firefighters have high health and stop zombies in their tracks, Gunfighters are weaker but attack from distance, Paramedics heal other units, Snipers fire powerful shots over a great distance, and Lumberjacks destroy low level baddies quickly,

There are also Hero Units, though so far I've only unlocked one of them. She's cool - Captain Zeta is a brave and strong leader for the resistance who rides a transformed VW camper van into battle.

You unlock more unit types over the course of your missions, as well as other goodies to help fight back against the rotting masses.

You can spend the resources you gather automatically at your base to level up your units and unlock special abilities.

Should your unit ever fall in battle they don't die, and can be re-deployed in battle mid-mission. In both theme and game mechanics there is thankfully no permadeath here.

If there's a criticism I can throw at World Zombination already, it's the limited number of voice samples each unit has. If I never hear "AXE AND YE SHALL RECEIVE" from the Firefighter again I won't be upset.

But I will hear it again. And again and again and again.

I'll hear it every time I select that unit while playing, and it'll continue to grind away at my soul until I switch off the sound effects completely.

Oh, yes, I nearly forgot to mention - there's an official Pocket Gamer guild if you want to join me. Just search for "Pocket Gamer" and you'll find it.

Day 3: Global takeover

After a couple more days of play I'm about halfway through New Orleans in the single player, and I'm starting to get into PvP rucks in Havana that see me facing off against players around the world.

The game's continuing to add new unit types into the mix, such as the Mercenary and Fire Captain, and I'm getting used to using the special abilities at my disposal too.

After a bit of research on your part, you can use Stim-Z boosts, which increase the abilities of a squad for a limited period of time, and the Flare Gun, which distracts all zombies for a short while.

Other little tricks I'm learning to take advantage of in battles are Rally Points. When you place a squad in an arena, you can tap them again and highlight exactly where you want them to stand.

This means that the area they cover can be tweaked and more or less firepower can be concentrated in one section, which quite often makes for the deciding factor in combat.

The Pocket Gamer guild is going strong, having already reached the player cap of 50, and there are decent options included to communicate with one another.

If we all club together and do well in the game, then we'll also be awarded gameplay perks, which is a welcome bonus.

Another little extra I like is the Quick Fight option. If you're confident that your team is up to the task of beating the next stage, you can let them handle it.

Quick Fights use up all of the stamina of the team, so you have to wait a while before you can field them again, but it's a nice way of catering to people who might only have a couple of minutes to play.

Day 7: Has brains

World Zombination is smart.

I'm coming back every day to continue training my troops, and check in on the now-burgeoning Guild I've created for Pocket Gamer. The game fits in with my play schedule well too: I can spend lots of time on it, or I can play for 30 seconds, and either way I feel I'm making progress.

The more you play the more you notice the little details. Simple stuff like an indicator underneath each fighting position indicating how many more units you can assign to it, to the marginal but still highly useful amount of slow motion experienced while you're placing troops - these are all marks of a well-thought out, rigorously playtested, high quality video game.

As World Zombination progresses you continue to unlock units and abilities, and even whole gameplay modes, and each of them subtly alters the way you can approach the game, and the tactics you need to use in battle.

Right now my favourite combo is to have my most powerful unit way back at the base, surrounded by troops with projectiles, plus cheap fodder at the front to soak up damage.

I also place my Snipers away from harm's reach, but still covering specific areas prone to attacks from bigger units.

I'm also training up some of my team with the specific task of having them sitting out the combat and helping to gather resources. You know a game is deep, and that it has its hooks in you, when you're seriously thinking about how to approach its meta game.

World Zombination is part strategy management, part tower defence, and while this combination has been tried before, to my mind it's never been done to such great effect.

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World Zombination

World Zombination is an essential download if you like tower defence games with a little more bite
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.