In a world full of mad, insane, bonkers games, Battle Bears: Zombies stands out as one of the maddest available on the iPhone. Of course, that's not always a good combination and there's a fine line between "mad fun" and "mad annoying". Battle Bears Zombies probably has a furry foot in both camps.
The bonkers plot sees your character (a teddy bear) ambushed on his travels by a load of pink zombie teddy bears who want to hug you to death. Taking refuge behind some sandbags, you must use the various weapons at your disposal to hold them off until help arrives. Let them get too close and you'll be hugged to within an inch of your life.
Like I said: Bonkers! Still, whilst the plot might be a little mad, at least it will bring a smile to your face and there is actually an element of plot progression to the game. This is done though the use of a number of cartoon-style cut-scenes (complete with speech) which advance the story and act as an introduction to each level. These are very well drawn and a lot of fun to watch.
The game is viewed in third-person perspective from just behind Teddy, who is hunkered down behind the sandbags. In the distance are a number of hills over which hordes of marauding zombie teddy bears will attack. It's up to you to use your weapons to shoot them repeatedly until they drop, or you can use careful aiming to shoot their heads off, at which point they will explode in a beam of rainbow colours (or blood if you've got the gorier option turned on).
The main in-game graphics are also very well drawn. Even though they are relatively simplistic, they are fun to look at and easy on the eye. The zombie teddies are brightly coloured, belying their deadly intentions, whilst their death throes are fun to watch - particularly when you successfully blast the head off one. If, like me, you have a hatred of all things cute and fluffy then you will find Battle Bears quite a cathartic experience!
At several points throughout the game, you will also come across some end-of-level style bosses. These are similarly crazy in their construction and make you worry for the minds of the people who thought them up (a giant "Bear-Zerker" and a barber-shop quartet of pigs are amongst the enemies you will encounter!). These show a great deal of imagination and, like the rest of the graphics are well-drawn, bight, colourful and fun to kill!
Unfortunately, after a few levels, the graphics start to suffer from a lack of variety. Aside from the bosses, the look and feel of each level is essentially the same - only the numbers of invading teddies increases. There's little or no graphical variety to either the teddies or the level backdrops and after a while the relentlessly cute nature of the images does start to get a little dull.
Sound-wise, there are some suitably militaristic-style tunes peppering which add quite a lot to the overall atmosphere, their semi-serious nature making an amusing contrast with the silly game play and graphics. The various weapons you can collect make a satisfying noise when fired and sound sufficiently distinct to make it feel like you are genuinely using different weapons.
Controls-wise there are two options. The default (Absolute) is by far the easiest and the one I would recommend. This simply requires you to line up your gun's cross-hairs and tap the screen to shoot. Additional weapons you have collected can be accessed via another icon. This control system works very well and makes the game nice and easy to play.
The second control method is Relative. I tried this and, to be perfectly honest, didn't have a clue what I needed to do. The cross-hairs seemed to leap about all over the screen and were virtually uncontrollable. I have no doubt that this is a perfectly usable control method, but it seems to me that you will have to invest more time mastering it. This rather goes against the simple pick up and play nature of the game and I'd definitely recommend sticking to Absolute mode, which is much easier to master.
As you've probably guessed by now, Battle Bears: Zombies has a rather insane sense of humour, which does initially make it a lot of fun to play. The game is simple to get into, easy to control (using the default mode) and will entertain you for a while. Unfortunately, as with the graphics, the game play is also rather repetitive. Other than the fact you can pick up and use more weapons, there is little variety between levels and it soon becomes a rather monotonous process of simply shooting enough zombie bears to end the level before progressing to the next. Battle Bear Zombies cute graphics and madcap plot may give the game a look and feel all of its own, but the lack of any real long term challenge means that the entertainment value wears off quite quickly.
It's also rather too easy. Most seasoned gamers will complete the levels pretty easily and, whilst it does get a little more difficult later on, it never gets particularly tricky. Mind you, when you take the repetitive game play into account, most people are likely to tire of it long before they get anywhere near the end.
Battle Bears: Zombies is a nice idea with some good presentation and a strong sense of humour. Sadly, this can't paper over the fatal flaw that is the lack of any long-term game play. Initially fun, it has a very limited lifespan and I would be very surprised if many people are still playing it a fortnight after downloading it - I know I'm not. I suppose at only 59p to download, you can't really complain, but there are far better games out there for the same price.
© Copyright SWSt 2011