The original Alive 4-Ever set a new standard for zombie shooters on the iPhone. It had four-player multiplayer, dozens of mission objectives, and more guns than the Michigan Militia. We eagerly anticipated the sequel, only to find that it’s more of the same without any meaningful upgrades.
If all you’re looking for is more missions, Alive 4-Ever Returns does manage to deliver. The 40 levels range from killing 300 zombies to staying alive for three minutes. Like before, sometimes you’ll have to escort a helpless survivor to safety, or recover suitcases filled with gold or vaccine. Each level also has a bonus objective, which will give you more experience and unlock new items for stat boosts.
Zombie RPGs are good by default.
The fun of leveling up, then spending experience points and cash on health and gun upgrades, is still completely intact. This was one of our favorite aspects of the original game, and we’re glad to see it hasn’t gone anywhere. Most of the attributes are the same, though, so at least one opportunity for greater depth was missed.
Another missed opportunity is the terrible story, which is told through Twitter-length snippets flashed before each mission. They describe a plot that is completely unrelated to the gameplay, and by the end we couldn’t care less about what they had to say.
Dressed to kill.
Some of the additions we did appreciate, however, include usable skills that give a temporary boost to your character’s abilities in the middle of battle, and grenades that you can toss at enemies. The grenades come in two varieties, fragmentation and sticky, and they do give you more options when you’re swarmed by the undead.
You’ll also be able to pick up a set of dual handguns, which give you a near-invincible burst of firepower. Before, when picking up a suitcase, you were limited to your single handgun. But now, even with one hand on a suitcase, the dual handguns can make a huge difference. We can’t help but imagine our survivor holding the suitcase in their teeth while they go all John Woo for a short time.
These additions, along with some new zombie types and environmental effects, are not very significant. While they slightly mix up the gameplay, most of the time you’ll just feel like you’re replaying the original Alive 4-Ever. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Alive 4-Ever Returns fails to move the series forward in a way that will make fans of the original excited once again.