Updated: RottenCity Review

RottenCity has received a significant update, adding a new control scheme. The touchy and imprecise controls were our biggest problem with the game, and this update makes a major difference.

Now there is now an option for D-pad style movement control on the right, and a dedicated fire button on the left. You won’t move while shooting with the new fire button, and the D-pad is much better for lining up your shots. It even has a clear indicator that tells you which way you’re facing.

The update also fixes some bugs, like the unlocked safe house towards the bottom of the map. You now have to buy a key as intended instead of breaking in for free. Also, the game seems less prone to crashing now.

RottenCity needed this update badly, and now that it has it, we find the game much more enjoyable. The quest to escape the city is lengthy and challenging, even if you’ll see a lot of the same zombies again and again, and we think this shooter has plenty of personality.

Nadia Mincemeat is set to become an iPhone fashion icon. She’s wearing her Hooters waitress outfit, with a gun in each hand, and she’s covered head to toe in zombie blood. While we love the way she looks in this game (and the rest of RottenCity isn’t bad, either), she moves like an epileptic hamster, which can really throw off your aim.

Nadia is one of the few survivors left in Rotten City, which has become overrun by zombies. Fortunately, these zombies are stuffed full of prizes like undead piñatas, and they’ll helpfully drop guns and powerups as you mow them down. They also drop rubies, which are the currency of the game and can allow you to buy your ticket out of town.

Just a splash of blood for this splash screen.

You roam from street to street, each one a self-contained arena that occasionally offers a shop or shelter. Each area will remain clear for ten minutes once you defeat a wave of zombies, and some areas produce better item drops than others. Background graffiti indicates the type of weapons or items you are more likely to pick up from slain zombies, so you’ll end up spending more time in certain regions to find rare loot.

These design choices are simply inspired. They result in a game that is all about strategizing where you want to spend your time, while keeping one eye on the clock to make sure you can head back to the safe house before the zombies return. Unfortunately, RottenCity has terrible controls that are an issue throughout the entire game.

Nadia moves by touching anywhere on the screen, but the controls are overly sensitive and imprecise. Targeting zombies is extremely difficult, and it’s easy to accidentally turn around when you meant to shoot. In a zombie action game, the absolutely essential aspect is that you can aim and fire with relative ease. A twin-stick control scheme, dedicated fire button, and customizable sensitivity are the first things that should be added to this game in an update.

Now that’s how you make a Bloody Mary with ice.

In addition, RottenCity is very glitchy. Sometimes you’ll be faced with invisible enemies, disappearing inventory items, broken environments, or a crash to the home screen. The crashes are especially annoying, because you can only save in certain spots. The game also won’t resume from where you left off if you crash or get a call on your iPhone.

The save system we can live with, because it appears to be part of the game’s built-in challenge, but the control scheme is absolutely terrible. It’s too bad, because so much of the game is very well designed. You consistently have to use strategic smarts to plan out your excursions. The arsenal of weapons is extremely satisfying. And some of the boss zombies are downright terrifying, like a dodging, handgun-wielding super zombie.

RottenCity has the makings of a spectacular game, but the execution in its current state should give you pause. Our rating of “Caution” was made for games like this. Let’s hope it receives an update– we’d love to see more of Nadia Mincemeat soon.

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