War. What is it good for? If you’re a lady or gentleman from Club Undead, it’s good for a bite. Soldiers’ brains made juicy and fat after years of being stuffed with orders and drill chants can make for a tasty dish. But military personnel aren’t known for giving up without a fight, and they like their brains secured safely in their noggins.
Tactical Soldier: Undead Rising, a universal app, relays the struggle for survival between a ragtag band of soldiers and a pack of zombies. A big, big, pack of zombies. After science goes mad at a military base, nearly all of its staff and soldiers are transformed into the walking dead. It’s up to the survivors to eke out other combatants and get to the bottom of the problem.
I see a clean floor and I want to paint it red.
Tactical Soldier is a turn-based strategy game, and if you’re familiar with the genre, there’s little here that will confuse you. Your soldiers expend a certain amount of energy (“ability points,” or “AP”) when they move across the field. If they have any energy remaining after a move, they can fire a long-range weapon or attack a nearby enemy with a melee weapon. If you opt for guns (recommended!), your hit percentage goes up depending on how close you are to an enemy. As you slaughter bad dudes, you gain skill points that you can award to your soldiers to improve their hit points and various abilities.
It’s pretty standard stuff for a turn-based strategy title, though Tactical Soldier does throw in some interesting tidbits to keep the action fresh. For instance, your soldiers can pick up heavy weapons that are capable of turning enemy ranks into swiss zombie cheese, but can also hurt allies if they’re caught in the crossfire. The good guys can also find grenades, which are simply a joy to throw into a knot of zombie warriors.
Time to die’¦ again.
Tactical Soldier utilizes 3D polygon-based graphics (no 3G support here, by the way). The battlefield is augmented by sweeping camera views that add a sense of dread when zombies peek around corners and shuffle closer towards your men. The drama comes at a cost, though. The battlefield is small and cramped on an iPhone, which can make it difficult to move your soldiers exactly where you want them to go. Grabbing items from dead bodies can be a problem too: When the ground is littered with piled-up zombies and their blood, it’s hard to tell which corpses you’ve robbed.
The character models are a bit lacking, too. Some of the fellows on your side look curiously emaciated on their status screens and are difficult to tell apart. There’s nothing wrong with the music in Tactical Soldier, though. A creepily urgent tune accompanies you when zombies lurk nearby. If they get too close, the music switches to something that’s quieter and more dread-inducing. When the immediate threats have been vanquished in a room, the sound goes mercifully silent.
Tactical Soldier is not a game for the impatient. Your progress from task to task is slow and deliberate, and a trip across a room can take several turns. Regardless, if you want a turn-based strategy game that offers a little less fantasy-based fairy dust and a little more in the way of blood, guns, and thunder, remember that the Army needs a few good men and women to waste a whack of zombies.