It seems you can't go anywhere these days without pesky zombies taking over the place. And so it is with N.Y. Zombies which (once again) sees you as one of the few survivors of yet another zombie infestation. But you're not the sort to sit around feeling sorry for yourself are you? Oh no. You're going to get out there and help the Undead become the Really Dead.
N.Y. Zombies is a first person shooter which sees you having to clear the various levels of zombies in order to progress safely to the next area. Each of the levels takes place in a single location with the object each time to kill a certain number of zombies, whilst not shooting the survivors who run towards you. Complicating this is the fact that unlike most traditional first-person shooters, you can't actually move around the room. Instead you are limited to standing in one spot and can only rotate yourself 360 degrees to eliminate any threats that come at you from all angles. Killing zombies will also earn you money, as will rescuing survivors. This can then be used to buy new, more powerful weapons in between levels.
The graphics in N.Y. Zombies are really atmospheric and on a par with things like the first Resident Evil on the Playstation. The locations are well drawn and the zombies shamble along, looking suitably dead. The graphics are very muted in colour, giving the game a grimy, dirty look perfectly suited to the game's subject matter. If you are familiar with the old PC game Max Payne, this has a very similar graphical style. You could accuse it of being a little drab, but then you wouldn't really want jolly, bright colours in this sort of game, would you?
There's a pleasing graphical variety to the zombies too, with several different sorts (male and female), rather than it simply being the same sprite attacking you again and again. Successfully shooting them sees them explode in a fountain of blood, which means that this game is certainly not for kids. The zombies are genuinely scary and as the action hots up and you find yourself being attacked from all sides, the slightly gruesome graphics can cause genuine moments of trouser-related discomfort.
Another nice graphical touch comes between levels when you are shown pages taken from a "diary" which act as the story behind the game. This works very well and enhances the game's sense of realism. As you progress, your character isn't just an on-screen avatar that you have to stop from dying. Instead, thanks to some genuine plot development, you really identify with your character, with his hopes and his worries and this makes the game come alive just that little bit more.
Sound is also pretty good, at least in some areas. There are a number of atmospheric in-game tunes (all discordant notes, ominous sounding chords and haunting piano tunes of the kind you might expect) and these really add to the sense of tension. Sadly, sound effects are less impressive. All of your weapons - even the really powerful ones - sound rather weedy when you fire them, and the "growls" from the zombies make them sound far less frightening than they look. Weak sound is a fault common to many iPhone games, and in fairness, I suspect this is more to do with the relatively weak speakers on the phone than shortcomings in the games themselves.
Controls have been implemented well. Although the idea that you can't move takes a bit of getting used to everything soon becomes second nature. Looking around is achieved by sweeping your finger across the screen, whilst to shoot you simply tap the screen area occupied by the enemy you want to kill. A number of icons across the bottom of the screen show the currently available weapons and a simple tap on these selects that weapon. Controls are tight and responsive, and within a couple of games you have quickly mastered them. The fact that the controls are so straightforward makes it easy to concentrate on the game itself, rather than having to remember a series of complex commands. It did take me a few goes to full get to grips with the control system, but this is achieved fairly quickly, thanks to an excellent little tutorial which takes you through the basics in a fun way, before you actually start the game proper.
The weapons add an extra fun element as each time you buy a new one, you can't wait to try it out and see what it does to a zombie. Sure, some are more effective and efficient at killing than others, and you'll soon discover which weapon you prefer, but they are all great fun to try out.
Initially, the game is great fun. Shooting the zombies gives a real sense of satisfaction and there are times when the game play can get quite frantic; it genuinely feels as though you are on your own, under attack from all sides and facing impossible odds. It's starts off very addictive and you'll find yourself racing through many of the opening levels in one sitting. Sadly, though, there's no disguising the fact that it wears thin pretty quickly. Very little changes from level to level other than the setting and the number of zombies that attack you.
There is some slight variety added through a couple of different game modes (for example: Survival, where you simply have to fight off the zombie hordes for as long as you can), but these still can't hide the somewhat threadbare nature of the game play in the long term. Fun though it is for a while, I suspect that this is a game that few people will play to the end; not because it's too difficult, but because you'll get bored of doing the same thing over and over long before you reach the end. Even if you do complete it, there's not much in terms of replay value and the addition of the extra game modes is unlikely to tempt you back.
Still, for only 59p, you can't really complain. It might grow old rather quickly, but it's still likely to be a game that you'll fire up from time to time to blast a few of those pesky zombies away as a bit of catharsis. It's not exactly Resident Evil, but it's a fun little blaster for a while at least.
© Copyright SWSt 2011