Pro Zombie Soccer Hands-On Preview

It’s always interesting to see how iPhone developers figure out ways to differentiate their games from the rest of the pack. Some developers rely on crazy names, others bet on gimmicky mechanics, while everyone is trying to hit a homer with slick presentation values. Sometimes, a marriage of two completely different subjects makes for a surprisingly good game. In this case, soccer and swarms of zombies combine to create Pro Zombie Soccer.

Before you dismiss the idea of a zombie soccer game, let us clear up some first blush assumptions you might have. This isn’t a soccer game starring teams of zombie players. No need to understand yellow cards, red cards, or bicycle kicks. Not to say that wouldn’t be a good game, but it’s not this one.

Pro Zombie Soccer is a story-driven shooting game starring Jax, a washed up soccer player who can’t catch a break. One night while rummaging for food in the streets, Jax gets bitten by a zombie. Fearing the prospect of becoming a zombie himself, he decides to go down kicking, using his trusty soccer ball to take zombies with him.

We mentioned that this was a shooter, except that a soccer ball replaces your typical weapon. Zombies of all shapes, sizes, and abilities pour in from the right side of the screen, and you get to mow them down, one kick at a time. Holding an on-screen button prepares a kick, and moving your thumb adjusts the aim and trajectory of your kicks. Smacking a zombie with a soccer ball in the head earns bonus points, and chaining them together triggers multiplier opportunities. The mechanics felt good in the preview build, but the jury is out on how it’ll hold up over extended play.

One cool surprise we discovered were the super moves triggered by racking up kills. When the super meter fills up, you can pick from a few options to clear the screen. We especially dug the satellite kick, which uses the accelerometer to perfectly place destruction from above.

Even with much work to be done to polish the game and fix typos, the presentation is on point already. In our short time, we noticed a surprising amount of variety of zombies. All of them animate convincingly, and you’ll smile from watching limbs and heads fly off so comically. Ambient music sets the mood, and keeps your energy level high.

Stay tuned for the full review of Pro Zombie Soccer coming soon. There’s a lot of potential here, and with OpenFeint slated to bring in the online connectivity, this may be a sleeper hit that will generate some well-deserved buzz.