Duke Nukem and Serious Sam have got a lot to answer for. Swearing, extreme violence and terrible one liners are some of their crimes, but perhaps the biggest is the fact that their antics have led to the birth of the ultimate amalgamation of the two: Barry Steakfries. Barry stars in Age of Zombies, a time travel romp through zombie infested landscapes taken from various places in history. The game is a top down shooter with the now default twin stick controls used to control both movement and shot direction as you mow down the undead hordes.
Touching anywhere on the left hand side of the screen makes a virtual stick appear for movement, focused on the point you first touch, and the same goes for the right hand side for firing. Controls can also be customized to your liking. It’s intuitive and responsive, and with only a little extra button for grenades and other special weapons, the simplicity of the controls suits the style of the game well. That’s because the game is simple, and pleasingly so. Each stage is basically an enclosed arena, with zombies spawning at random points around the map. A meter shows you how many enemies are left to destroy, and once it has been emptied, the stage ends, unless there is a boss to fight.
Barry has an pistol with unlimited ammo with him at all times, and other, more powerful weapons such as shotguns and machine guns, all with limited ammo appear at different times during a stage. Shooting consecutive zombies with the same weapon earns a score bonus, so it pays to aim. There are also grenades, land mines and rocket launchers to collect, which are assigned to the special weapon button. This works well with the exception of the rocket launcher which is quite difficult to aim as the button is right above the shooting stick, and would probably have worked better as a main weapon collectable. Zombies come in their hundreds and the levels quickly get very tough, as they undead quickly learn a few new tricks, such as growing to twice their size, running full pelt and even grabbing guns and shooting back at you!
You will soon find yourself on a constant defensive pattern, herding zombies into manageable groups, cutting them off with scenery and making you way from one weapon drop off to the next, all the while prioritising the tougher zombies to keep the upper hand. It’s good fun, although very simple, and plays a lot better than the dozens of other similar games on the App Store. The fact that the levels are all pretty short means this is perfect for play in short bursts. The thing that makes this game even better, however, is it’s star, the aforementioned Barry Steakfries. Looking like your standard action hero, Barry is anything but, which made clear whenever he opens his mouth.
One liners are the order of the day here, some of which are really very funny, and most of which involves swear words. It’s a shame it’s all just in text bubbles as i would have loved to hear Mr Steakfries voice. This sense of humour permeates throughout the game, from the naming of the stages to the animation of the different types of zombies (the 1930’s gangsters are a highlight), and the quick witted, self mocking style really fits the games ethos of fast action and simple controls. The graphics are great, with nicely drawn 2D sprites that are full of character, and the game never slows down, even when the screen is full of enemies. The sound is equally good with good music and excellent effects. The main problem with the game is that it all gets very repetitive, as you are simply doing the same thing over and over.
The short nature of the levels, as well as a couple of different game modes does help to offset this, but you will probably finish the main game in a few hours, although both OpenFeint and Game Center achievements and leaderboards adds a fair bit of longevity, as well as the fact that this is the kind of game that can always be relied on when you need a quick blast of something. Overall, good arena based zombie blasting is successfully married to tongue in cheek humour in a game that you will enjoy for a good few hours before it’s innate repetitive nature will start to take its toll.