Zombies are the leftover meatloaf of video game premises. You typically know what to expect when you play a zombie game, and it feels like nothing new has been done with the recipe for ages. Thunder Game Works, the studio behind the much-loved strategy game Trenches, has a new idea for the undead: get a big huge zombie to whip little zombies at invaders, and call the game GibsNGlory. Hey, we can dig it (hah, ‘dig it!’). Unfortunately, the gameplay in GibsNGlory lurches and moans like a dybbuk.
Like Trenches, GibsNGlory takes place during the Great War. You are a gigantic zombie, and you live on the left side of the screen. A constant stream of British soldiers pours in from the right side. To stop them, you need to reach into the ground to pull up lesser zombies and lob them at the Brits. There are several types of zombies, and each one comes with a specialty: a regular zombie blows a hole in the terrain, a fire zombie erects a barrier of flames wherever it lands, and the gas zombie–well, let’s just say that when a zombie with a distended belly explodes, you don’t want to be anywhere in the neighborhood.
“Hold on, I got something for ya.”
After you dig up a zombie, you slide your finger forward to determine the power and height of your throw (basically, the opposite of Angry Birds’ famous ‘pull back’ method). While the slide-forward control method helps separate GibsNGlory from its feathery brethren, it makes it difficult to determine just how much muscle you’re putting into a shot. Worse, each level is several screens long, which makes it hard to judge where to throw your zombie pals. The miniscule map at the top corner of the playfield isn’t much help.
Your zombie minions also lack a sense of weight, which makes breaking through obstacles and blowing up explosive barrels very frustrating. Going back to Angry Birds, there’s never any doubt which bird is suited for a demolition job. Black birds explode the heaviest barriers, Yellow birds slice through wood and stone, Blue birds are appropriate for small, scattered hits, and the Green toucans just suck. With GibsNGlory, it never seems to make a big difference which zombie you choose to throw at Her Majesty’s Royal Zombie Slayers.
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s-a zombie.
Worst of all, when you do land a good hit, the game stutters or even stops for a few seconds. This proved a problem even on a fourth generation iPod Touch immediately following a reboot. What’s the point of wrecking stuff if you can’t watch concrete and body parts fly smoothly into the stratosphere?
GibsNGlory has a fun premise, and it comes from a team that knows its stuff. Sadly, it’s not an easy game to recommend. The App Store is brimming with amazing physics-based games, and GibsNGlory needs considerable fine-tuning before it can rank among the best.