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Zombieville USA is the kind of button-mashing action game that is perfectly suited for playing during short breaks, but lacks the depth needed to hold your interest for extended gaming. Fans of the zombie game genre will still get a kick out of its gory graphics and horror themed music. It is currently available on iTunes for $1.99 and works on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.
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Forget about having any kind of story here, because this is purely hack and slash from beginning to end. As one IGN.com reviewer noted, this game never seems to end. It’s highly repetitive in such a way that you keep coming back for more, and the lack of variety amongst enemies makes the experience nearly the same most every time you play. At least the frequency and volume of the zombies you encounter is randomized.
You begin the game by picking from one of several different main characters like a ninja, a farmer, and so on. The characters all perform the same during the game, so there are no gameplay changes between them. It’s purely for looks, but still adds a little something to it. Once you choose your hero, you will go through level after level of what’s basically the same thing – a street with some houses and lots of zombies to beat down.
Money is earned for every zombie you kill, plus you can enter the houses to find more cash or ammo. Each level can be completed in two or three minutes, then you enter a shopping area where you can buy upgraded weapons, health, and so on. The idea is to keep playing enough to earn the money required to get the really good weapons, and you’ll need the added firepower to take on the growing hordes that you must face in later levels.
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This game plays the same on each level, and there is very little to tell the levels apart. It’s presented like a sidescroller where you use arrows to move left and right, and you have two attack buttons. There is no up and down movement and you can’t jump, so you keep moving in one direction or the other and attack the zombies that come along. Several houses are found along the street and you can enter them by tapping on the door. If you linger too long outside, more zombies will come and you might have trouble killing them all, but you can hide inside the house.
Combat involves pressing one of two buttons and pointing in the direction of the zombies. You have a melee attack and a gun attack, but ammo is limited. As you earn money to buy upgrades, you’ll find 15 different weapon types are available, and the amount of zombies you encounter seems relative to the firepower at your disposal. Once you put the time in to get the good stuff like a chainsaw or flamethrower, the fun really starts.
With such simplistic gameplay, there isn't much strategy to it. The entire game is based on reflexes and you can play as little or as long as you like. It automatically saves after completing each level, so you can pick up where you left off. I was pleased with how responsive the controls were, and this is important since the action is so fast.
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Graphics and Sound
The main selling point of this game is the graphics. It uses what looks like hand drawn animations and characters and it looks really good on the iPod Touch screen. There is quite a bit of gore, too. When you hit the zombies, they will react several different ways and blood tends to fly through the air. The death blow results in their head being smashed in, then they collapse to the ground in a cartoonish pool of blood. It’s a load of bloody mindless fun.
At the game menu screen, you’ll hear horror themed music that befits the genre quite well. Sound effects during gameplay are quite repetitive, but that is to be expected with this type of game. It still sounds good with different weapons making different sounds and zombie game fans will love all the splattering sounds from taking down the undead.
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Zombieville USA is purposefully simple, and for that it’s a lot of fun. I still think the gameplay could be expanded upon, such as adding more zombie types and more stuff to interact with on the streets. Since it’s so linear and the game doesn’t change much from level to level, it won’t hold your interest for very long. With a $1.99 price tag, you might want to get the free Lite version instead to see what it’s like before you commit to buying.
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Zombieville USA Hints & Tips
Here are a few hints and tips to help you get the most out of the game:
- When you get to the end of a level, backtrack some to kill the zombies that have been following you. It's a good way to milk each level for more money.
- Save your money for the really good upgrades, like shotguns and chainsaws. Also make sure you have enough money to buy health at the end of the level, in case you need it.
- Don't stand around too long or the zombies will gang up and you'll die very quickly if being attacked from both sides.
- Conserve ammo as much as possible and use your melee attack, especially when you have two zombies on top of each other because you can hit them both with one hit.
- Houses make great hiding places, so don't step out the front door when there are too many zombies to deal with on the front lawn. Wait for them to walk past, then make your move.
- When one of the more powerful zombies (with the different color faces) comes out, focus on taking them down first.
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- Author’s personal experience playing on the iPod Touch.
- Screenshots courtesy of iTunes.
- Download Zombieville USA