As with many much-anticipated Gameloft releases, we have two things to say about Zombie Infection. First, it’s an incredible game that we enjoyed from start to finish. The action is nonstop, the story gets better as it progresses, and the overall presentation is about as polished as we’ve seen on the iPhone. But we can’t shake the feeling that if they had strayed from the glaringly obvious Resident Evil 5 inspiration, they could have built something even better.
But before we get into what the game’s not, let’s talk about what it is. Zombie Infection is a third-person shooter that has you mowing down swarms of lunatics hellbent on infecting you with a zombie virus. As you progress, you’ll work your way through 12 well-crafted levels to figure out how the virus was released and who is responsible.
You play as Alex Rayne and Damien Sharpe, an action news team with the unfortunate luck of finding themselves in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Alex is the truth-seeking reporter, sensible about everything except fashion– how many newspeople wear low-rise jeans and bare more midriff than a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader? You’ll more often play as Damien, the cameraman whose brother is somehow involved with the virus, making the story personal for him. Which one of them you control depends on which level you’re playing, but they never fight side by side.
Like nearly everything else in this game, the controls are heavily based on Resident Evil 5. When not aiming your weapon, you can move around freely, breaking open boxes and picking up ammunition and medkits. When you tap the button to aim, your foot movement slows considerably, although you can still swivel at regular speed to find your targets. If you’re familiar with onscreen controls, this doesn’t take any time at all to get used to, and the game feels just right.
As you progress, the enemies use an increasing amount of firepower and begin to mutate, making them harder to kill. To compensate, you build up your weapon arsenal as you play, moving from a pistol and shotgun to a submachine gun and grenade launcher. You can also use melee attacks that are surprisingly effective when you’re not outnumbered. If a zombie’s health gets near zero and you’re close enough, a red fatality icon appears on the screen that allows you to use one of several brutal takedowns.
Many levels from RE5 have counterparts in Zombie Infection, from a shanty town and shipping yard to a swamp boardwalk and hospital. Like in other Gameloft shooters, the levels are extremely linear. You always have a clear objective, with an arrow pointing exactly where you need to go next. Any pieces of the environment you need to interact with gleam with streaks of blue until you touch them, and a mini-map is always in the corner of the screen.
The latest innovation in CPR.
The overall presentation of the game is very impressive. The graphics are great, with detailed environments and smooth animation. What really helps create the spooky atmosphere, however, is the sound. The music is cinematic, with pitch-perfect creepiness that ebbs and flows at just the right times. Whenever a zombie is in proximity, it growls and babbles, putting you on edge for what’s to come. The one sour note is the voice acting, which ranges from bad to laughably terrible.
Many of the Resident Evil 5 extras are included in Zombie Infection as well. Beating the game unlocks a survival mode that pits you against increasingly tough waves of zombies. Collectible tokens are strewn throughout every level, and collecting them all unlocks a secret. The game also connects to Gameloft Live, which supplies a long list of achievements you can earn.
It’s hard to overstate the fun we had playing Zombie Infection. It’s a top-notch experience that gives players just about everything they could possibly want in a survival horror/action game. The fighting is intense, the levels are wonderfully designed, and the gameplay provides plenty of variety. The one thing it’s missing, however, is any hint of creativity. Nearly everything in Zombie Infection has already been done in Resident Evil 5, and we wish the developers had brought in more new elements of their own. We’d complain more about that, but it’s hard to get too worked up when you’re having this much fun massacring the undead.