Filmmaker George A. Romero’s talent for working with moaning piles of rotting flesh has earned him the nickname ‘The Grandfather of the Zombie’ (imagine having him as a real grandfather; how wicked-awesome would your Halloween parties be?). Romero’s film credits include Night of the Living Dead and its spiritual successor Dawn of the Dead, which remains a beloved classic in a genre crawling with the putrid damned.
Dawn of the Dead for the iPhone is loosely based on the 2004 remake of Romero’s movie. Actually, it just contains the most important element from that movie: zombie-splattering. Sure, social commentary about America’s obsession with empty commercial goods is important, but hey, zombie splattering!
Look who’s Mr. Popular today!
Dawn of the Dead is a slay-‘em-all title; you (as one of a few nameless survivors) get a top-down view of the action as you move into your shopping mall stronghold and clean house. Your goal from level to level involves making zombies dead again. Sometimes there will be a time limit, and sometimes you will have to look for an exit, but either way, countless zombies will be getting a forehead full of lead.
Fans of the movie shouldn’t expect a deep story in the iPhone game, but should instead anticipate a hellish struggle with the game’s controls. The game supplies you with an assortment of guns, but aiming and shooting dead-on is nearly impossible. Your zombie killer moves with a virtual analog stick, and turns using a swivel node on the right-hand side of the screen. Moving to and fro works fine, but lining up an accurate shot before you become zombie food is very difficult.
Starring Ving Rhames as Some Guy.
There is redemption: The game’s melee weapons are the star of the show. You unlock blunt objects as you complete more levels, including a hammer, a golf club, and (best of all) a fireman’s axe. Melee weapons are easier to control and swing in a wider arc, making them the ideal choice against a zombie horde. Of course, it’s still extremely easy to find yourself overwhelmed and you’ll be swinging through the air while zombies eat your brain.
Dawn of the Dead’s graphics feature a lot of blood-splattering fun, but there’s no real variety amongst the undead. The sound effects, however, are golden, with wet, gag-inducing thuds that announce the arrival of a hammer into a zombie’s brain.
With its control issues and repetitive gameplay, Dawn of the Dead might not even thrill fans of the movie. Others will take the repetitive tasks as part of the game’s charm: In a world filled with zombies, do you really need to do anything except kill, kill, kill?