Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies Review

Not content with having achieved the biggest media launch ever last month with Modern Warfare 3, Activision has released Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies for iOS. If you’ve played the zombie mode in last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops for consoles and PC, you’ll feel right at home here, because the iOS version offers one of the levels from the original game.

Yes, this game only contains a single map, with another one promised in a future update. And while that might sound disappointing, the map is significantly bigger and more detailed than the multiplayer maps you’ll find in most other iOS shooters.

I like these odds.

The idea of the game is that you’ve hunkered down in a building during the inevitable Nazi zombie apocalypse. Undead members of the Third Reich come at you in waves, crawling through broken windows and decimated doors. You start with a pistol and a knife, but you’ll quickly be overwhelmed if you don’t upgrade to heavier firepower. To arm yourself, you’ll have to fork over money that you earn either by setting up short-lived barricades or killing zombies.

Money can also buy you access to other rooms. The map in the game is called “Kino der Toten,” which translates to ‘cinema of the dead.’ It’s an enormous run-down movie theater, with a cut-off power supply and no connection to the outside world. You start at the front of the theater, but if you can make it all the way to the rear, you can switch on the electricity. This enables electric traps that help you kill more zombies.

The villains it’s OK to kill.

It’s a fun game to play alone, but the co-op mode is a major draw, too. Up to four people can play at a time, either locally or online through Game Center. However, when we played in random online matches, we were never teamed up with more than one other person at a time. Amazingly, the online multiplayer mode features voice chat. This is great for working out strategies with your teammates, but it’s not implemented flawlessly.

Online matches tend to be choppy, with dropped frame rates and frequent lag. It’s playable, but it could certainly be smoother. The same goes for the voice chat. Oftentimes your teammates’ voice will drop out in the middle of a sentence and you’ll have to ask him (it’s usually a him) to repeat himself. Add in the background noise of most people’s houses, and voice chat loses some of its appeal. If it becomes a problem, you can mute your partners.

Look what the tide washed up.

Obviously, the controls aren’t as smooth as they are on the console version of the game, and the action isn’t as visceral, but the gameplay experience is still very fun. Your character moves a little slower than we’d like, but the controls are responsive and easy to get a feel for if you’ve played other first-person shooters on iOS. To make up for any control shortcomings, indicator arrows appear when zombies get within spitting distance of you, and a helpful aim-assist option is enabled by default.

The app also includes a top-down twin-stick shooter called Dead-Ops Arcade that you can unlock by tapping the four coins located on the game’s menus. Dead-Ops Arcade is an enjoyable diversion that pits you (and optional teammates) against 50 waves of zombies in a variety of environments. It’s definitely not the most beautiful or polished top-down shooter we’ve played on iOS, but it has its charms. It’s generous with loot drops, giving you plenty of weapons, power-ups, and extra points, and the soundtrack is terrific. This mode even has its own set of Game Center leaderboards. If the zombie FPS mode is the main course of this app, Dead-Ops Arcade is like a free dessert.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies is a very fun game that will satisfy most any fan of iOS shooters. We’d love to see them add another map or two for free, and patch up the laggy online co-op mode. But there’s nothing here that totally spoils the experience, and with another update or two, this game could easily become a Must Have title. If you’re not dying to play a new Call of Duty game on iOS, you might want to hold off until they fix some of the issues. But if you buy it now, you’re not likely to regret it.

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