As someone who knows nothing about game development and has never written a single line of code, I think I’m totally qualified to say that creating a decent mobile game is a lot different than making one for consoles. I bring this up because Zombie Gunship, a new title from Play Store newbies Limbic, illustrates a key difference between the two: Where TV screen titles are more-less forced to rely on their gameplay to be considered good, a mobile game can offer fairly weak mechanics and still come out okay if the unlock system doesn’t totally suck, or vice versa.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing. If it was, 90 percent or more of the tablet/smartphone games out there today would crash and burn. Though several manage to get both right (and have the download numbers to prove it) a staggering number of downloads on the Play Store seem to choose a single category to excel in. This review’s just about the one, though, so you’ll have to take my word on the rest of them. C’mon. You can trust me. Totally.
Bang, You’re Dead
Some of you indie gamers out there may be familiar with a little-known shooter series known collectively as Modern Warfare. If so, you’ve probably played the gunship levels present in most of them. If not, let me break it down for you: As the gunner in an advanced billion-dollar helicopter, your job is to look at an open area through an old-school black-and-white tube TV and gun down enemies that look like white blobs on the screen. Zombie Gunship takes a very similar idea – as in “so similar Apple would sue the pants off them if they made MW games” – and adds werewolves to the mix.
Ha! Just kidding. The enemies are actually zombies, but I bet I had you going there for a minute. The undead, represented by black blobs on the screen, are hell-bent on entering a fortified human base. Humans, on the other hand, show up as white on the monitor.
Shooting those white blobs is obviously a no-no here; instead, you have to gun the heck out of some shambling brain-munchers so that your warm blooded counterparts can safely make it inside. Letting the zombies eat the other guys is perfectly acceptable, by the way… just don’t shoot them, because if you do that too much, you lose. You also bite the dust if a zombie makes it into the base, which makes sense if you’ve ever seen the OG Day of the Dead. Geoooorrrge!
Wise Fwom Your Gwave
Fortunately, a downright heavy arsenal is there to help, and that’s where the unlock system comes in: As you might have expected, every undead you murkalize nets you coins to spend upgrading your helicopter’s guns (a machine gun, 40mm cannon, and 100mm Howitzer). Each firearm comes with different stats to dump cash into, like firing rate, damage, and outright bullet speed. There are also side perks to spend your blood money on: One gets you more cash per zombie killed, for instance, while another expands the amount of poorly-lit ground you can see with each gun.
Here’s my problem: While the game certainly improves as you dump upgrades into your weaponry, it’s never exactly fun. Sure, there’s an addictive aspect to making your guns shoot a little harder – you want to see how they work after you drop the money you’ve earned fixing them, after all – but you can only mow through so many limping, phosphorous-white baddies before things get boring no matter how powerful your arsenal is. Had it not been for the upgrade system (and the fact that I was reviewing the game, of course) I’d have dropped it far earlier than I did. Then again, that’s the case for a lot of titles on the Play Store these days, whether I’m endlessly running through a tunnel or racing snails for a psychopath.
Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?
That all said, Zombie Gunship costs a whopping dollar, making it a dirt-cheap purchase for an okay amount of fun. If you’re into zombies or you really like the gunship levels on Modern Warfare, it’s probably worth your time. If not, who knows? I hate to advise you to buy it, try it, and return it within 15 minutes if you don’t like it… but buy it, try it, and return it within 15 minutes if you don’t like it. I don’t exactly regret spending my own buck on the game, but it also doesn’t pass the Play It Once The Review’s Done test. There are worse games out there, in other words, but there are quite a few better ones, too.