The name of this game is a little bit of a mouthful if you decide to give it its full title, but we’ll give it a go:
Call of Duty: World At War: Zombies
Right, now that is out of the way we will stick to referring to the first iPhone-based game in the immensely successful series as CoD Zombies. It is based on the special zombie-slaying mode that you may have unlocked if you played through 2008’s World At War and the emphasis is on slaughtering the reanimated corpses of Nazi soldiers. Since various computer games throughout the ages (most significantly the Wolfenstein series) have established the Nazi’s proclivity for dabbling in the occult, it is fairly easy to accept the existence of Nazi zombies in the CoD universe, if you allow its creators a bit of artistic license.
The iPhone version of CoD Zombies retains exactly the same gameplay mechanics as the original, but since not that many people bought World At War it is worth going over the basics. You start off trapped in a single room in a house and from the first moment you are bombarded by wave after wave of zombie soldiers all trying to climb in and relieve you of your delicious brains. You will need to use a variety of WW2 weapons to dispatch the undead fiends and you can also board up the window in order to earn money. The more money you earn, the more rooms in the house you can unlock. Unlocking more rooms of course means that there are more windows to protect and board up, but it also allows you to purchase much better weapons and of course earn a higher score.
As the game progresses and the zombies become more numerous and aggressive, the tension is ratcheted right up as you struggle for your life against seemingly overwhelming odds. Despite this feeling of helplessness, CoD Zombies is actually perfectly balanced so that you are kept constantly on the tipping point of failure but always able to regain control when you feel that you are about to breath your last.
There are several different control schemes available in CoD Zombies. You can use the motion sensitive controls to tile the iPhone and move your character about and this is probably the best setting if you are relatively new to first person shooters. Alternatively you can use your finger to swipe across the touch screen to turn and this at least means that you can keep the screen pointing directly at you at all times. However, the best control scheme of them all is ‘dual stick’. This allows you to use two virtual touch screen analogue sticks and if you are familiar with the home console versions of the CoD games then this should be the control setup of choice. You can control your motion through 360 degrees as well as your aim with far better accuracy and it is the only way you will be able to survive for an extended period.
The iPhone is known for its powerful hardware which puts to shame standalone handheld consoles like the Sony PSP. As such the CoD Zombies graphics are really rather impressive. You shouldn’t expect to get the same level of detail and fidelity as you would from a home console version, but considering that the action is taking place on a small screen everything looks sharp and highly defined. Most importantly the frame rate never gets choppy even when there are many shambling corpses on screen and it looks authentically scary at times. If you are a fan of headshots the results are pleasingly graphic and this is not exactly a kid-friendly game. However, since most iPhone owners are around 30 this should not really be an issue.
One area in which the slight limitations of the iPhone’s hardware are revealed is the length of time for which dead zombie bodies hang around. You will not find them piling up to litter the floor, as they will disappear quite sharpish. As such the CoD Zombies maps can feel a bit empty after you have just killed off hundreds of foes, slightly detracting from the feel.
If you want to take on CoD Zombies with some mates then you have two options. You can either jump into a match with a random group of four other players from around the world using a Wi-Fi connection. Alternatively you can connect using Bluetooth for a local match. This is a multiplayer game where working together is important, though it is still about getting the highest score. There is built in support for leaderboards, displaying the top scores from players worldwide. It is necessary to verify your copy of CoD Zombies and register with a username and password before you can upload your own scores.
Call of Duty: World At War: Zombies is quite an expensive iPhone game. But you get your money’s worth with excellent visuals, quality controls and extensive multiplayer options which bulk out the package and provide incentive for repeat plays.