Ego City Invasion Hands-On

Punch Entertainment is probably best known to iPhone gamers for their Reign of Swords strategy series, but before the iPhone even had an App Store, Punch released a social network game called Ego for mobile phones. Ego let you customize a limbless avatar who could chat, flirt, and fight. On the web, Ego City is a hub for these avatars, but Ego City has been invaded by zombies in an upcoming action tie-in for the iPhone.

In Ego City Invasion, you control a tank piloted by an Ego that you can customize in three parts: the head, torso, and feet. Using tilt controls, you guide your tank over wildly curvy hills, while zombies begin a slow march to your castle walls from the right side of the screen. You have to tap the screen to unleash a barrage of missiles at the zombies and other monsters that are determined to break in and snack on the Egos within.

A few twists make this game more promising than your average castle defense game. For one, you can use coins you earn in the game to unlock new weapons and costumes for your tank. These same coins can also be used to buy items in Ego City on the web.

Of the unlockable weapons we saw in Ego City Invasion, our favorite is the Human Sample Bomb, a beeping bit of brain matter that attracts the zombies to it before going “boom”. Some of the cool costumes we caught a peek at include a pink cake dress, a rusty deep sea diver, and a bright yellow hazmat suit.

The enemies come to your door in waves, and later on big zombies, parachuting zombies, and bomb-clutching crows will descend on your precious castle gate. To even things out, though, powerups that let you restore your door’s health, call in an airstrike, or even summon a charging ram will drop from supply crates.

Plus, you can get an airborne advantage with a jetpack button located in the lower-left corner. This is especially handy when fighting crows, because with a higher vantage point you can force them to drop their bombs on the marching hordes below. However, like your guns, the jetpack can overheat, preventing you from laying on the gas.

Ego City Invasion played very well when we tried it, and the extra weapons and costumes you can unlock seem like a good reason to keep playing. The game is in the final tuning stages now, to ensure that the three difficulty levels provide the right degrees of challenge and reward. Online leaderboards won’t be available at launch, but they may come through in a later update.

At the expected price point of one or two dollars, Ego City Invasion could well be worth a chance, even if you’ve never heard of the Ego avatars. The idea is, sometimes it’s good to take a break from flirting and chatting through an Ego, and just set it loose on some zombies instead.