Game Reviews

Zombies Ate My Friends

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Zombies Ate My Friends

Zombie games are dime a dozen on nearly every platform. It seems as though these poster children of '80s entertainment have arisen from the grave once again to try and overrun the planet.

While some zombie games manage to shuffle into the mainstream and stay there, the majority just fall by the wayside like so much decomposing matter.

Those that do succeed tend to have a selling point - perhaps an emphasis on story or a tower defence structure. Glu Mobile has attempted to give Zombies Ate My Friends its own unique selling point, but the results are mixed at best.

State of emergency

Having created a customisable character, which can be further kitted out through the use of cosmetic in-app purchases, you're thrust into a strangely cartoony world of zombie survival.

Your first task is to rescue a fellow survivor and grab some supplies for your helicopter-enabled escape. This means venturing across town, defeating zombies on the way, and grabbing supplies from garbage cans too.

To do this, you'll be tapping on navigation arrows to traverse screens, tapping on zombies to initiate battles, tapping on menus to fight, and, ultimately, just tapping an awful lot. Even bigger fights, like boss encounters, require the same tap, tap, tap mechanic, and it becomes mundane rather quickly.

This is also true of how you progress through the story as all you ever seem to do is run back and forth through waves of zombies doing mundane and menial tasks.

While there's clearly an air of survival in the narrative and environments, the only pressure to survive that you'll find in the gameplay is the will to carry on.

Zombie fatigue

Still, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that Glu Mobile wants the focus to be on zombie-slaying - even if it does try to put this in the wider context of helping people.

Engaging in combat with the undead expends various units of energy depending on the type of attack you pick. It also causes your weapon to wear and supplies of ammunition to dwindle. All of this just increases the likelihood that you'll be spending money on in-app purchases.

And that's Zombies Ate My Friends in a nutshell. It's just a series of opportunities to spend money.

At first, you're regularly rewarded with Cash and XP, with the occasional Energy boost thrown in alongside the rare Gold Skull. As you can imagine, this fills you with a sense of progression and getting something for nothing. But it quickly fades.

This is probably not too much of an issue if you're a freemium regular. However, it's hard to find much of a reason to keep coming back to a game that essentially involves tapping menu buttons before being ferried onto another screen for more of the same.

There are some neat ideas on show here, such as timed events that see zombie hordes approaching if you fail to finish a mission in time - thus making your task harder.

But those more interesting gameplay perks, alongside the charming visuals, are all overshadowed by a rather oppressive and unintuitive freemium system. This is a game about mindless, indiscriminately consuming drones that apparently wants to be played by them too.

Zombies Ate My Friends

An interesting concept that's let down by a reliance on a tired freemium model that nearly turns Zombies Ate My Friends into something as lifeless as its shuffling antagonists
Vaughn Highfield
Vaughn Highfield
Quite possibly the tallest man in games, Vaughn has been enamoured with video games from a young age. However, it wasn't until he spent some time writing for the student newspaper that he realised he had a knack for talking people's ears off about his favourite pastime. Since then, he's been forging a path to the career he loves... even if it doesn't love him back.