REVIEW: BOXHEAD – THE ZOMBIE WARS, iPHONE OS

Originally an internet flash game, Boxhead – The Zombie Wars has not only made its way to the iPhone OS, but has already released its version 4.0 update. An overhead action shooter, Zombies Wars is a cross between a tower-defense game and the old arcade game, Smash TV.

Boxhead – The Zombie Wars sets you above protagonist Jon Bambo, one well-armed man in a world full of undead. The basic goal here is simple, use the weapons you receive to survive as many waves of the undead as possible. Designers at MEDL Mobile drop you right into the middle of the action for the modest price of $2.99.

Game Mechanics

BoxHead – The Zombie Wars starts with a simple menu, which allows the player to adjust some minor settings. For example, in the Settings menu the player can choose between two different control schemes. Otherwise, the Settings and Extras menus contain little of interest.

Select your level, choice of six different landscapes, and your difficulty level (Casual, Hardcore and Nightmare) off the main screen and you are ready to go. On the left side of the screen is your direction pad, and one large, red fire button awaits on the bottom right with a weapon selection icon centered between. The first wave begins with zombies, a pistol and your wits. As the waves march on the player also encounters mummies, vampires and runners (think zoom-bies). As the dead are put back in their place, the player unlocks new weapons and enhancements, like auto-fire. Enemies will also drop weapons and health to keep the fight going.

As more weapon choices are unlocked is where Zombie Wars starts to shine. Amongst the player’s growing arsenal are things like barricades, exploding barrels, C4 packs and turrets. These items, along with the unique level landscaping, allows for a higher tier of strategy than is usually found in the simple tower-defense like games. The usability of these arsenal elements allows a player to choose between a more offensive or defensive stance and to improvise between waves.

In all of this undead slaying goodness, a single mechanical flaw resurfaces repeatedly. Mr. Jon Bambo has a propensity to get stuck on landscape elements, including your own barricades and barrels. Numerous times while retreating or maneuvering, the protagonist will “snag” on something allowing the hungry dead to swarm the player. This persistent flaw keeps Boxhead – The Zombie Wars from a perfect score.

Game Mechanics        Score   4 / 5

Ambience

The top-down view here is rather outdated, looking like something released for a 16-bit console. That being said, the characters share a blocky look akin to Lego men. Let’s face it, though, it’s doubtful that “Lego Resident Evil” would ever make it to the store shelves, but Boxhead pulls off its own version. The music and sound effects are fitting but mostly forgettable. The addition of enemy specific noises would be enjoyable.

Where Zombie Wars does succeed is in the sense of overwhelming odds and impending doom. Each level has different entrance points for the undead and utilizes them at random, keeping the player off balance. The number and type of enemies also vary per wave all adding to the great and addicting sense of urgency Boxhead delivers.

Ambience                    Score   3.5 / 5

Fun Factor

Boxhead – The Zombie Wars has some of the best pickup-and-play feel on the iPhone OS platform so far. The game is easy to jump right into, whether it’s for a quick time-killer or a lengthy gaming session. The Zombie Wars holds up to both these situations.

What is lacking in The Zombie Wars is long-term investment. There’s nothing to unlock, nothing special to accomplish. The player unlocks their weapons per session, re-earning them each playthrough, but not keeping any. All possible levels come available at launch. The player can connect online to post their scores, but there is little else to keep a player’s attention span. It would have been nice to see some unlockable skins for the characters, something to achieve.

Even without the traditional awards, The Zombie Wars has an inherent replay addiction beyond any traditional tower-defense game. That’s where Boxhead earns it points.

Fun Factor                  Score   4 / 5

Guidance

The menu setup does not have a help option, but with the nature of Zombie Wars, it is not necessary. The game is rather self-explanatory. A description of the power-ups unlocked in battle would be appreciated, although it is mostly intuitive. If you need to be told where to shoot, the zombie’s probably already got you.

Guidance                     Score   4 / 5

 

Final Thoughts

Successful as a flash game, and now on the iPhone, Boxhead – The Zombie Wars could probably even do well in an arcade cabinet. A definite time destroyer, this game’s only true weakness lies in its lack of depth. A few unlockables, a couple trophies, and this game would top many charts. Otherwise, Boxhead – The Zombie Wars is hugely satisfying and should easily win a permanent place on any player’s iPhone or iPad.

Final           Score   3.9 / 5

Written by Andrew

GD Star Rating
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