Games like N.O.V.A have proven that decent first person shooters can be made for smart phones, with good controls married to things like sensible enemy placement used to work around the innate limitations of the control format.
Unfortunately, Welcome to Hell, a spin on the popular zombie survivor format, does not follow the path of recent mobile first person shooter games and instead marries bad enemy placement with frankly terrible controls.
Left for Dead, the Valve game for Xbox 360 and PC has inspired a glut of similar zombie survival games, most notably for smart phones in the form of Call of Duty: Zombies, where you have to fend off a swarm of Nazi zombies. Welcome to Hell is similar in style, but where COD: Zombies had your enemies knocking through doors and windows, Welcome to Hell has them appearing randomly out of the ground.
Yes, that does mean they can rise up behind you while you are fighting enemies off from the front. That might sound like it would be frantic fun, but it’s not, it’s an example of bad enemy placement, and more than that, it’s annoying.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be as annoying if the controls were not so awful. I have played many a mobile FPS, both online and off through to completion, but the controls on offer here have to be some of the worst I have seen.
You have two virtual sticks to control the action with, which is the standard these days, but most shooters have a system where tapping the right hand stick as you move it around to look fires your weapon. It sounds odd on paper, but it works brilliantly for a touch scream. Welcome to Hell doesn’t use that system, instead, when you want to fire, you must take your thumb off the right stick and tap the screen near it.
This literally means that you can’t aim and shoot at the same time, so you have to line up your shot and then fire away while using the left stick to get a bead on your target by moving. This is painful enough when you have one zombie shuffling toward you, but many times worse when you have several of them running at you from different directions.
There is an option to change the controls so you can have the fire button on top of the stick, but it just doesn’t work as in other games, with taps missed and the gun firing when you didn’t want it to.
This isn’t helped by the fact that the controls have an enormous amount of ‘swing’ to them. What this means is, if you are turning fast to your right, but then want to turn back to your left, you have to wait a second for the screen to catch up to your movements. You can adjust the sensitivity, but the difference is minimal.
The graphics are decent on a technical level with fairly well animated enemies and nice mist and explosion effects, but the games’ visuals just don’t have the character of other games of the type. Sound, too is passable and as you would expect, but also does have one cool feature in 3D sound that allows you to hear when a creature is behind you.
There are a few different areas to play through, and the more you play the more credits you get, which in turn allow you to unlock better weapons. Many of the levels are pretty atmospheric, but some are woeful in their design, particularly one that is completely red with the zombies showing up as black shapes. I’m sure it is supposed to be frightening, but it is actually very frustrating as you simply can’t see where you are going.
The game does have some nice ideas, such as the aforementioned 3D sound, and the weapon unlocking is neatly executed, but terrible controls, total lack of character and frustrating enemy spawning means that the only sense of creeping dread you will get from this zombie fest will be at the, admittedly small, hole in your pocket.