Reviewed: June 9, 2010
Released: June 3, 2010
App Store Price: $9.99
Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies II has been met with a bit of controversy, and it has surprisingly nothing to do with the number of colons present in the title. It also has nothing to do with the historical inaccuracy of Nazi zombies, but I think I may be the only person upset about that. Zombies II has a received a number of crippling one star iTunes reviews that will surely affect the sales numbers of the title, because as we all know, Call of Duty's sales numbers (much like Activision's other jewel of a franchise, Guitar Hero) are made or broken based on user reviews.|
The complaint from the community is that Zombies II, while costing the same as a full game, is really nothing more than an expansion. There is a new swamp themed map, new weapons, new characters and enemies, but it is nothing that could not have been handled by an expansion to the original game. In fact, Activision is pretty forward about the game being an expansion for two reasons. The first piece of evidence being that the only place you see the number two (or in this case, the Roman numeral) in proximity to the title is on the icon for the app. Once you boot up the game you are met with a Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies title that is strangely bereft of a two.
The other piece of evidence, and the stronger piece I argue, is that the, "full game" is offered at a discounted price when downloaded through the original Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies game instead of going through the iTunes app store. The new map, weapons, etc. all become available within the original game once it is downloaded. So, if you have Zombies and are interested in Zombies II, make sure to buy the game through your existing copy of the first game, as opposed to buying it through iTunes.
Which brings us to the reason you are here in the first place; the game. If you have played the Zombies mode on the console Call of Duty, than you know the premise of the game. Stop the zombies from their brain munching activities by setting traps, building blockades and of course, shooting them. Earn points to upgrade weapons, buy armor and unlock doors to explore the swampy wasteland. The game is set up just like its console brethren, except that instead of beautiful tactile control sticks, you are stuck with invisible sloppy inaccurate virtual control sticks. The controls are passable at best, but it does get easier with practice.
The game looks great. It is arguably one of the best looking games on the iPhone, but that doesn't come without its drawbacks. The high quality graphics lead to an inconsistent frame rate that will stutter when you are surrounded by zombies. This makes the more intense moments also the most game breaking, which in turn leads to some unfair deaths, which then leads to frustration, which then leads to a broken phone.
The music, or rather the lack there of, really shines through. The swamp is filled with atmospheric swampy noises, and are only disturbed by frequent gunshots and zombie moans, and thankfully infrequently by testosterone driven commentary from the player character. Each defeated wave of zombies gives you a rewarding guitar riff to congratulate zombie defeat.
There are some diverse cooperative multiplayer options included in the game as well. You can play with 2 to 4 players online, through Bluetooth, or with players on the same wireless network.
The sloppy controls that hurt nearly every fast paced action game on the iPhone are present here, and the slowdown that occurs can really hinder the experience. When the game works though, it is an intense and rewarding zombie shooter. The $10 asking price is simply too high, especially in comparison to a number of cheaper, better games available for the system. If you love the first game, buy the game as an expansion (make sure to avoid iTunes), but if this is your first foray into Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies, I would avoid it like the zombie plague.